Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Bharat Chandra Rout
Bharat Chandra Rout submitted his doctoral thesis on social justice and higher education in the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi. Currently he is a research fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and assistant editor of the journal ‘College Post’, a quarterly journal of the Indian Colleges Forum.
Scheduled Castes [SC] and Scheduled Tribes [ST] constitute around one-fourth of the total population of India. Both of these communities are considered as deprived and exploited for various reasons. While SCs were (and even now are) subjected to discrimination and marginalization through the processes of untouchability and rigid caste practices, STs were deprived and exploited because of their socio-cultural and geographical isolation in Indian society. The caste system presupposes a form of social stratification in which people in the society are divided into different ‘strata’. The essential characteristics of a caste-based division of society into different hierarchical caste groups are, amongst others, the rigid occupational entitlements by birth, rigid caste identity based on endogamy and a lack of social mobility. The dominant and depressed caste groups in India are characterized by the differential access to societal opportunities and entitlements, social mobility and larger social/public resources. It is the lower strata of the society, particularly that of SCs and STs, to which social opportunities and economic facilities have long been denied. Access to public resources, institutions and even to basic needs were structurally guided by the system of social stratification. In other words, the caste system legitimized the forms and contours of neglect and deprivation and wilfully rationalized marginalization and discrimination of SCs and STs.