[Reader-list] Caste and the City

Shivam Vij shivamvij at gmail.com
Fri Dec 3 22:31:42 IST 2004

Dear all:

here is a rejoinder to those who claim there is no caste
discrimination in urban India, or that it happened only in the past.
To those who think Dalits need 'education' instead of 'reservations',
read this. It is upper-caste Indians who need education: education
that what you are doing to Dalits is *racism*. Those who are
indifferent to the plight of Dalits in urban India, that is
Dalits/Tribals around you, you are in effect part of the problem.
Merely saying you are progressive is not enough.

This report is argument enough in favour of proportional
representation of Dalits/Tribals/Middle castes (OBC's) in educational
institutions and professions. If urban upper caste Indians refuse to
live in an apartment built by Dalits and occupied largely by them, it
is proof enough that they would also not like to have Dalits at their
workplace. And so Dalits suffer the problem of lack of equality of
opportunity in the jobs market. They are not just historically
disadvantaged, but also marginalised and thus disadvantaged in
contemporary India. If this happens in the national capital, you can
imagine what happens in the rest of India.

cheers | shivam vij

moderator, ZESTCaste: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ZESTCaste

the best online resource on caste: www.ambedkar.org

o o o o o 

 Caste casts shadow on real estate too:

 Indo-Asian News Service | New Delhi, 3 October 2004 

Houses in a middle class Delhi neighbourhood with two or three
bedrooms, ample living space, running water and a car park - these may
sound like dream flats, but they have no takers.

Gaurav Apartments, in Patparganj in east Delhi, boasts of houses that
a potential buyer would give his right arm for - were it not for the
label of "Dalit" in caste-conscious Hindu society.

Built by a group of residents belonging to the Scheduled Castes (as
Dalits are known officially) and Scheduled Tribes, the apartment
complex is an odd one out in a neighbourhood dotted by housing
societies of professionals like engineers, journalists, technocrats,
doctors and professors.

"The lack of demand has plummeted property rates here, yet few people
want to buy flats here," said Ramu (name changed), an employee of the
Gaurav Apartment Housing Society.

"Many clients have declined to buy or even rent a flat soon after
looking at the huge portrait of (B.R.) Ambedkar at the entrance,"
said Lalit, a Dalit property dealer who has an office nearby.

Ambedkar, who drafted the Indian constitution, is considered the
messiah of Dalits, formerly dubbed "untouchables" by the Hindu high

"There are 192 apartments in that society. At least 15 to 20 are
vacant. Now you know why," Lalit said, pointing out that a two-
bedroom flat was available for around Rs.1.7 million - compared with
around Rs.2 million or more for flats in other nearby housing

"Except for a few south Indians and some Bengalis, others are
reluctant to invest here as 60 to 70 percent of the flats are
occupied by Dalits," said Lalit, who converted to Buddhism inspired
by Dalit leader Udit Raj.

Lalit's real estate office is shorn of portraits of Ambedkar. He
admits that the picture would affect his business.

Instead, pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses adorn the walls of his
small office in Madhu Vihar, close to Gaurav apartments.

Most property dealers are frank about the situation and advise buyers
to look for a flat elsewhere.

"Why Gaurav Apartments? Why not Friends Apartments or Navkunj
Apartments?" asked another property dealer when an IANS correspondent
approached him pretending to be a prospective buyer.

Buying a house in a Dalit locality might not be a wise decision, the
man added.

All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
chief Udit Raj was bitter in his criticism of people's attitudes.

"Indians are suffering from a mental sickness. Even the educated
class is not above this disease of caste-based discrimination," Raj
told IANS.

"Daits do not need sops, they need self-respect," he said.

Says Ramu: "When Dalit children are studying in schools with high
caste children, why are grown-ups refusing to integrate with the


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