ENFOLD REALITIES: A DALIT PERSPECTIVE

 

Abstract

‘Dalit’ is a word which is more powerful in India than ‘India.’ It has played a major role in social, political and economic life of India. Dalits have faced unexpected exclusion in all aspects of their life. Though, different policies and constitution in itself provide various safeguards to them in almost every dimension of life. But the biggest question need to be addressed is that to what extent the gap has bridged between theory and praxis? What are some of the internal ambiguities of policies which ruined the entire strength of the policy provisions? Education is also not an exception in this regard. Extreme level of humiliation and discrimination has been not only perceived moreover proved by countless studies. Present paper is going to unfold the existing problems and concerns associated with Dalit girl child with reference to education and socialization. This paper is presenting the theoretical understanding of what does it means to be a ‘Dalit girl child.’ and has been supported by some case studies conducted for the purpose of this paper. Case studies of a few SC students provide practical strength to the paper. The paper will also try to establish linkages between education and socialization of Dalit girl child. The education of SC girls has been looked into. Paper emphasis that socialization and education are not distinct categories of each other, rather they are associated with each other. To reach to the collusion, the paper discusses various theoretical understanding focuses on, education and socialization regarding Dalits.

Author: Sandeep Kumar

Assistant Professor, Department of Education, University of Delhi

[shc_shortcode class=”shc_mybox”]Published in: Contemporary Researches in Education, Edited by Dr.Asha J.V. and Naseerali M.K.[/shc_shortcode]

India is known to be diverse in various aspects. As per Chanana, K. (1993) verna system has been prevalent in the country, which divides individuals on the basis on caste. The term ‘Scheduled Caste’ become legalized  in 1937 to designate lower ranking Hindu castes and they will be getting special protection and support by the Indian Government. It is important to understand that how to understand a caste system or what are the characteristics, caste system include. Some of these characteristics are stratified division of society, Hierarchy, restrictions on social intercourse and interactions, civil and religious prohibition and special immunities, lack of unrestricted choice of occupation, restriction on inter caste marriage and education.

Education always had been prohibited for Dalits and considered property of upper caste people. Though, it has been acknowledged long back that education is must for liberation. Jyotiba Phule and Dr. Ambedkar are the most prominent personalities who strongly favored education for all without any kinds of discrimination, neither on caste base nor any other.

SOCIALIZATION

All most all sociologist and psychologists believe that socialization plays a very significant role in the make- up of an individual. Luckman and Berger said that all individual become member of society after their birth. They become legitimate member of a society, where they live and participate in activities of a particular society. There is a temporal sequence, in the course of which he is inducted into participation in the social dialectic. By successful socialization we mean the establishment of a high degree of symmetry between objective and subjective reality.

According to Prof Krishna Kumar socialization is a process results from the encounter between children and adults around them, first the parents and other family members and later the members of the larger community play a very important and significant role in the process of socialization. Krishna Kumar has taken this understanding from Vygotskian perspective of development, where Vygotsky talked about the process of co-construction of knowledge. This process of co-construction becomes one of the important aspects of socialization.

Socialization according to Berger and Luckmann comprises of primary and secondary socialization. Primary socialization takes place childhood which is emotionally charged and not questioned. Secondary socialization on the other hand is role specific, thus, taking one’s place in larger role in society and social practices. Men together produce human environment. It is through the interaction of men that the human environment is created as a amalgamation of socio cultural and psychological formations. There will be no social life or environment without interaction or in isolation.

The process of habitualization can also be understood with reference to socialization. In this as well the same kind of pattern is repeated again and again traditionally so much so that it has become a habit. And gradually this habit become natural rather acquired.

“Man is man, in fact, only because he lives in a society” (Durkheim). Durkheim explains socialization in terms of interacting and adjusting into a set of complex social environment. Education and socialization are interrelated, where, Family does the primary socialization and further socialization is done by education in specific categories. Socializing and education can be seen as synonymous, where, they serve the same purpose. This combined process, provides space, to individual, for development.

Dewey considers education as a process of growth in the social life.  Similar to Durkheim, Dewey said Durkheim education cannot be defined apart from social experience. These days we perceive not distinction between education and socialization, because, education is seen as having a fundamental social character. To makes school natural and easy initiation in the society, Dewey mentioned that the school must be integrate with the society’s experiences.

SOCIALIZATION AND EDUCATION: PERSPECTIVE OF SCHEDULED CASTE GIRLS

Caste is an integral aspect of socialization. Every child is born in a caste and gradually go through the specific socialization of that caste in a particular manner. Throughout this process, he/she expected to behave, interact with people in a particular way. Getting education for a low caste child and that too a girl is not an easy task but in spite of this if entry is made in the schools the caste of that child is further reinforced as they are expected to mention the sub caste to which they belong. The process of this discrimination starts at the time of admission itself. As the caste of the child is known, the teachers who mostly belong to the non Dalit  caste impose their own assumptions on the low caste students. Implicit to explicit, all kids of biases, prejudices and discrimination is faced by the lower class students. Girl children have more Sevier situation. They have to face double discrimination, of being a Dalit and girl.

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Phule, Ambedkar and Paulo Friere’s views on education of women are significant to discuss here.  According to  Phule the powerless situation of the untouchables and women was due to their debarment from education and knowledge. Phule advocated education for women for their development. It would be vital to the development of women as persons and as citizens and foremost as a human being. He believed in liberation through education.  He believed in the power of education for liberation. Phule set up the first school for Dalit girl.

Ambedkar also talked about the equal education for men and women Education became a crucial dimension of Dalit women’s political involvement (Velasker, 2007).

According to Paulo Freire education and liberation is not a gift that would be provided easily to the oppressed. A constant fight and vigor to attain freedom has to be a part of the oppressed. Paulo Freire said in order to achieve the goal the oppressed has to critically reflect on the reality followed by taking appropriate action. Education has been the prerogative of the high caste people but unless and until critical reflection of the situation was done no appropriate action could have been possible. “It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subject of the transformation” (Freire, 1972)        Education of women gets effected at various levels. There are established processes which influence decision making related to schooling from a social exclusion perspective.

It is important to understand the factors which influence the decision of sending a child to school or not. This also becomes an important part in our understanding of socialization. There are several points those can be discussed in this regard, some significant has been highlighted in a paper by UNICEF on ‘Social Exclusion of Schedule Caste’ It includes:

  • Characteristics and process within the school (i.e. teaching, school environment, background of teachers, discriminatory practices etc.)
  • Processes within the community (i.e. social dynamics, inclusive decision- making, social norms within the community related to education etc.)
  • Household characteristics and related processes (i.e. caste, poverty, gender, number of children, nutrition, educational level and occupation of parents, value places on education etc.)

The above three elements affect a child’s chances of accessing school (UNICEF, 2006). The school, community and household are not isolated categories rather are interlinked and interdependent on each other. All three act together, in order to ensure a child’s entry in school. Let us consider an example in order to illustrate the above mentioned process. A Scheduled caste girl Seema in a village with family belonging to a lower socio- economic group drops out of school. Her parents have to work daily to earn their two time meal. Seema has two younger siblings. Seema has to take care of household work and her siblings in her parent’s absence. This situation makes her to play a role of mother in very early age. This makes it difficult for her to enter school; but even after making certain arrangements her parents send her to school. Within the school she realized from the day first all know about her caste and developed a specific kind of behaviour against her. Therefore there is a bias that already exists within the minds of the students and even the teachers of the schools who mostly belong to the upper caste. This existed discrimination forced her to leave the school. The end result is drop out from school. This shows the way a community, household and school all three act together in the decision making process of either attending or not attending schools.

CASTE STUDIES

To explore more about the discussed understanding in first segment of the paper, four case studies have been conducted. These case studies provide authenticity to the work. These case studies are done on four SC school going girls. The idea behind this work is not to generalize the situation of SC girls. But certain issues and concerns are heighted by these case studies, which is important to be acknowledged. The case studies presented only as indicative resource for understanding the situation of SC girls with respect to their socialization and education.

ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

Socialization

In terms of socialization it is evident that family is a primary agent of socialization.  Gender roles are defined within the family very precisely. All the cases show that father has to work outside or earn money for the family and on the other had mother does not burdened with this responsibility irrespective of her qualification. In the first case study the mother is a graduate still she is housewife and in the fourth case study where the mother is illiterate still she tries to contribute financially in the family. This situation has a specific concerned with socio-cultural status of the family. The first case study girls, studied in private schools, whereas, in forth case study girl studied in government school. The gender roles are defined here that a women has a choice of going out and earning, whereas, a man has no such choice. The role of women as a nurturer is specified in the household which is further carried on by the girls of family.

The patterns of socialization get affected by regional situations and therefore, it is important to understand them form rural and urban perspective. In the first study the girl is born and brought up in Delhi but she was very uncomfortable talking about her caste, whereas, the girl in case study II (Radhika) is comfortable about her caste. The reason being that caste has been a part the socialization of Radhika but not for Meena (case I). This also signifies that in rural areas the division is evident to children as they grow up and even parents do not feel the need to hide such a thing from their children. On the other hand the socialization of a girl staying in Delhi did not include caste, as her parents also never wanted her to understand her identity and ancestral background. Meena’s parents did not want their children to now and identified by their caste. They said they do not want to tag their caste with their childrens’ identity.

Elders’ perspective towards education

Elder family members’ perspective towards education plays a significant role in processes of socialization. Their beliefs, attitudes, perceptions etc. all effect the socialization of a child in a family.

Education has been important in all the case studies. In the case of Radhika (Case study II) her mother motivates her to study.  This belief becomes a part of the socialization of Radhika as well. And this motivation brought her Delhi from her village for higher studies. Here we also need to keep in mind the region that she belongs to. Accepted Buddhism the family is influenced by the idea of Ambedkar. This is reflected in their understanding of education and its importance in the life of Dalit girl. This is in contrast to case study III (Veena) as her parents want her to be educated but for marriage only, so that she can get a good life partner. This also shows that the objective of educating girls is getting good marriage proposals.

Socio-economic status of family

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The socio-economic status of the family is also significant in the analysis. In Case Study I the girl is born and brought up in Delhi and studied in a private school. She has no issues on the economic form; also no gender difference is evident because there is no brother in the family. On the other hand, in the other case studies, the socio economic status is not very impressive and gender differences in terms of rituals and eating habits can be seen.

In case study IV the women of the family adds to the family income and the reason is become the socio-economic condition of the family is not very stable. She is illiterate but contributes whatever she can to the family. On the other hand in the case study I the women is educated but  still she does not contribute in the family income as she does not feel the need as the family is stable with respect to the socio-economic status.  This shows that earning is not the priority of the woman of the house unless and until there is a lack of financial stability.

In terms of socialization and education it is seen that there is a link among two. the education of the parents and their socialization affects the socialization and education of their children. Also the way in which children are socialized also affects their education.

The development of trust

It was fond in all the case studies that the trust on other members of society was very low. Three girls out of four said that they have been treated badly because of their caste at various places like society, school etc. therefore they do not want to believe anyone. They accept that they took more time to develop trust on other. This also influences their socialization in school as well as in society. Some time it hinders their studies also.

One of them said her mother always tell her not talk much neither at home nor at school. She herself realize it later, that why her mother asked her to do so. As her caste revealed in class, students and even teachers start behaving with her in a special manner. She felt disdained.

Another one said, education has liberated me, but, enforced different other kinds of discriminations, restrictions and biases. She felt that she left one cage and entered in other one.

The development of independence

Dalit girls’ perspective about self-decision making and being independence was very low and narrow. They said most of the time they have to consult their parents for even very small thing. Whereas, their parent said it is necessary to take our permission before they take any decision. They stated two basic reasons for this, first, society is not safe for girls these days and second, girls cannot take decision alone, because they do not have experience of life.

One of the girl said, I have never participated in decision making in family. Here, clothes, food, studies, friends even how to thinking has been decided by the family. She said, life is so tough outside home, one, because of being Dalit and second she is a girl. Another girl evaluated family role and said, family had played a major role in her life, which is, both, negative and positive. Negative role of family had been stated, in terms of, not making them independent.  One girl said, school and school environment had also hindered their development of independence.

The tendency to take initiative

Socialization is a process, which develops ability, capability and attitude for taking initiative for known and unknown works and tasks. One of the girls said, she has given space for initiative only for household work, not other works and gradually she become dependent and failed to take initiative for any sort of work. She, very helplessly mentioned that school had also not helped her in this process. Her primary socialization had already developed a base for her personality development in future.

Another girls said, to buy note book also I have to ask my parents. Though, her brother is allowed to take his decisions. She mentioned, neighbourhood people also questioned, if, I do anything, which is not very obvious to them. One girl said initiating something is a far away from her; she even cannot suggest anything in something which is already existed.

THE SENSE OF COMPETENCE AND AMBITION

Competences and ambitions are highly associated with the kind of independence and opportunities one have. Interaction with girls and above few theme of analysis proves that they had very little space for these things. One girl said that she liked to become an airhostess, but, her caste never left her hand and family, school all made her feel, in different way, that she should not think of becoming an airhostess. She mentioned that she could not carry this burden anymore and decided to quit.

One girl said she never dared to think about any ambition, as, she knew, she has to do what her parents will say. She said, her life is like a sandwich, where, one slice is her caste and second slice is other castes and she is in between. She mentioned how one can even think about her competence and ambitions.

One girl shared her ambitions to join police, but, unfortunately, she did not get any kind of space and opportunity to achieve it, neither from home nor from school.

Decisions about ‘who one is’

Knowing one’s identity is really important which includes self-concept. “Who are you”, was answered by girls very casually. All of them said they are girls. They hardly could relate any specific abilities with them. Their self-efficacy was also very low and therefore self-concept. Three out of four very clearly mentioned their identity is recognized by others and that is “Dalit.” One said, she is Dalit, but, she has other identity also of being student, girls, citizen and so on, but she could not talk much about this.

Analysis of cases shows that these girls are confused about “who are they.” Most of the responses were not clear to the researcher. They were just able to see themselves with association to their caste and as a girl.

Relationships with others

Social interaction depends upon the kind of social relations you have with family, neighbors, friends in school, teachers and so on. All the girls said that they have good relation with others but simultaneously also saying that nobody want them to be developed.

One said, all her friends talked to her nicely, but, caste difference still exists. She stated some of her friend, clearly pointed out, that certain thing, do not happen in your customs. They wanted to prove them self-higher caste, more civilized and developed.

Such relations explicitly and implicitly influenced the socialization of these girls. All of these were able to identify the significant others and one said, it is not easy to disobey other and particularly those have significant role in their life.

CONCLUSION

Caste and gender play a very significant role in socialization patterns and education. Caste Socialization is an important aspect of the growing up of an individual. Education also influences and reinforces on various occasions the socializing pattern of the family.

Many provisions have been incorporated in India constitution to provide repetitive space to SC.  Different polices extensively talked about the provisions in this regard, but, these policies have not been considered as enabling forces that address the social norms of discrimination among disadvantaged groups (Chopra and Jefferey, 2005, p.63).

Government reservations for minority groups’ access to education may help to increase the number of Dalit girls in school, practicality has a different face all together. And challenges do not end here, after accessing school, Dalit girls have to face problems in their identity development, as they have to face preexisted prejudices regarding caste. The social inequalities are so strongly embedded, that it is imperative to keep them in consideration while dealing with various issues. Nothing can be seen in isolation as everything is dependent on each other. Understanding about gender, caste also has a significant role to play and visa- versa. Therefore it is important to understand the scenario in totality, rather, segmented.  By segregating, it would be impossible to look at such extensive problem in isolation, there is need to understand it in an interlinked issues spread out in society.

The paper is tried to enfold the realities a Dalit girls lived with.  Paper also discussed that socialization and education are interdependent on each other. The reason of SC girls not being able to attend school or even drop out also depends to a great extent on the assumption and beliefs of the people with the family and society.

Within the category of women, dalit women are even more affected as they become a victim of dual discrimination on the basis of gender and caste. Taking a broader view and looking at the socializing pattern would aid in analyzing the situation in a better manner.

It is essential to understand that a Dalit woman has lower status among women. They have to face bauble discrimination on the basis of gender and caste. Here, it also becomes important to study the socialization pattern more seriously to cater the problem.

REFERENCES

Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1991). The Social Construction of Reality- A Treaties in Sociology of Knowledge. Anchor Publication.

Bube, L. (2001). Anthropological Exploration in Gender: Intersecting Fields. Sage Publication

Chakravarti, U. (2003). Conceptualizing Gender—Phule, Brahmanism and Brahminical patriarchy, Rao, A (Ed), Gender and Caste- Issues in contemporary Indian Feminism. Women Unlimited Publication.

Channana, K. (2001). Interrogating Women’s Education- Bounded Visions Expanding Horizons. Rawat Publication.

Dewey, J. (2008). The School and the Society. Aakar Books.

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin Books.

Mittal, M. (2010). Dalit Women n India- Survivla and Current Dilemma. Arise Publishers and Distributers.

Pawade, K. (1995). Life of a Dalit Women. Jogdnad. P.G (Ed), Dalit Women- Issues and Perspectives, Gyan Publishing House.

Velasker, P. (2007). Caste, Gender and Education: Dalit girls access to schooling in Maharashtra. Tilak, B.G (Ed.), Women’s Education and Development. Gyan Publishing House.

 

 

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