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ÚJCAIndologie a indonésistikaAktualityRaj Sekhar Basu: Caste and Untouchability in India (prosinec 2012)

Raj Sekhar Basu: Caste and Untouchability in India

Pozvánka na přednášku, kterou prosloví

Dr. Raj Sekhar Basu

Mykolo Romeris University, Vilnius

Přednáška proběhne dne 5.12. 2012 ve 14:10 hod. v místnosti č. 427 (budova FF UK, Celetná 20). Přednáška bude proslovena v angličtině.


Recent research has abundantly proved that caste in British India was not totally a rigid institution. Indeed, it was possible for strategically located groups to move up in the local hierarchy through the capture of political power, acquisition of land, trade or migration to other regions. But, such analyses often ignores the experiences of a large number of communities who were regarded as “antyajas” or “panchamas”, i.e. communities considered to be polluting and placed outside the boundaries of the caste Hindu society. The caste based oppression and discrimination are believed to be of historical origin, dating back to the later Vedic period. The experiences of the Dalits in contemporary India strongly establishes the links between caste and the old tradition of untouchability. The ideas of stigma and pollution have been internalized by the Dalits from their childhood and such ideas have profoundly shaped the Dalit identity and consciousness. It is this daily reminder of their stigmatized status that provides the context for the Dalit protest and struggle in contemporary India.

I would argue that caste and untouchability constitute a complex of discriminatory practices that are responsible for the imposition of social disabilities on a sizeable populace, because of their birth in certain castes. Such practices included various forms of exclusion and exploitation, like denying access to state services or forcing the Dalits to perform demeaning occupations. It is all pervasive in the sense that it governs all aspects of life, classifying people in terms of a hierarchy and prescribing how they should interact. In other words, there would be an attempt to bring out how this Dalit subordination is reproduced in the public as well as the private sphere. The lecture will try to explain whether the Indian state charged with a constitutional mandate to remove inequality  and promote social justice, has failed to be a state system for removing the practice of untouchability.