Are Dalits Still Slaves?
NEW DELHI: The flagship Mid-Day Meal scheme in Rajasthan, Orissa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh is afflicted with largescale caste and gender-based discrimination. Waking up to a series of reports of discrimination, the HRD ministry has decided to send central teams to specific districts in the four states from where such reports have come.
While the discrimination was gender-based in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar, Haveri and Uttara Kannada, it was both gender and caste-based in Orissa’s Kandhamal and Boudh.
The maximum discrimination has been reported from Rajasthan where HRD ministry’s monitoring agency found that in Karauli, upper caste children were not sharing mid-day meals with lower caste children. In Dausa, Scheduled Caste children were made to sit separately and eat mid-day meals. In Sirohi, children belonging to minority community were eating food separately. “The teacher should not have allowed such communalization in MDM,” monitoring agency Shiv Charan Mathur Social Policy Research Institute said.
The situation was far worse in Dungarpur. Monitoring agency Institute of Development Studies said 85% school children were found sitting in caste groups. A similar story of caste segregation was found in Jaisalmer. Additionally, in urban areas of Jaisalmer, upper caste children refused to eat food with dalit children.
In Pali, 57.5% school children were sitting in caste groups and it was also found that in 10% schools, only upper caste children served the mid-day meal. Gender discrimination could be seen in 12.5% schools as girls were made to serve the food.
In MP’s Narsinghpur, the monitoring agency found that in 17.5% schools, upper caste children did not eat mid-day meal as cooks were of lower castes. Monitoring agency MP Institute of Social Science Research, Ujjain, reported untouchability within school premises in schools of Betul as well as Satna, Chhindwara, Burhanpur, Balaghat, Shivpuri, Narshingpur and Hoshangabad.
In Satna, upper caste, SC and OBC children sat separately. In Panna, food to dalit children was served from a distance. Children of one social group were even getting their own plates from home to avoid mix-up. In Hoshangabad, girls of higher castes sat separately from lower caste girls.
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