While the Brahmins were ordained to study

While the Brahmins were ordained to study and preach the scriptures, Kshatriyas were ordained to fight and protect the masses, Vaishyas were ordained to trade, and Shudras were ordained to serve those above them. In this scheme was laid the first idea of inequality that placed Shudras at the base of the pyramid and Brahmins at the apex. In essence the discrimination against Scheduled Castes laid down in the 1931 census focused on their inability to, (i) be served by clean Brahmins, (ii) be served by barbers, tailors etc.

, who served the caste Hindus, (iii) serve water to caste Hindus, (iv) enter Hindu temples, (v) use public like wells, schools etc., (vi) dissociate oneself from despised, the government had to provide the opportunities for their growth and development So it was the policy of protective discrimination was adopted in the Constitution. The government now offers them reservation of 15 per cent in educational institutions, jobs in the public sector, and seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. This is in addition to provision of subsidy loans and other forms of financial assistance. Equally important is the provision to protect physical, social, cultural and religious interests of the Scheduled Castes. Practicing or promoting untouchability is counted as an offence.

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Nandu Ram classifies the constitutional provisions into three broad categories, (i) safeguarding represen­tations of Scheduled Castes in educational institutions in both Central and State Government jobs, and in Parliament and State Assemblies, (ii) prohibiting discri­minations or social and religious disabilities, abolition of untouchability, ban on forced or bonded labour and opening up of entry into public places, and (iii) providing grants-in-aid and other facilities for constructing houses, digging wells for drinking water and for irrigation purposes, starting small enterprises etc. At first glance it does appear that these provisions guarantee an upliftment of social and economic condition of the scheduled castes people. Yet, the Scheduled Castes continue to reel under social pressure and discrimination. This is because the schemes and provisions charted out for them do not reach those who are in need. It has been found that most of them are appropriated either by the high caste people or by the rich and the influential families of the scheduled castes people themselves.

The net result is that only a very small fraction of the benefits reach the grass-roots. It is most unfortunate that long bureaucratic procedures and general apathy of the officers are the major impediments in the smooth flow of favours and benefits envisaged by the government for the Scheduled Castes people.


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