Home India News Bihar Dalits yet to taste the fruits of development

Bihar Dalits yet to taste the fruits of development


Patna : The poorest of the Dalits, called Maha Dalits in Bihar, are yet to taste the fruits of development, says a report by the state’s Maha Dalit Commission.

The first interim report, which was submitted to the state government Tuesday, said there have been no Maha Dalit high school teachers or senior officials in the state despite reservations in government jobs for them.

“The Maha Dalits have virtually no representation in government jobs, their literacy rate is below expectation and they have not benefited from poverty alleviation schemes,” said K.P. Ramaiyah, the secretary of the Maha Dalit Commission.

Dalits constitute nearly 15 percent of Bihar’s population of 83 million. The commission has identified 18 of the 22 Dalit sub castes, including Musahar, Bhuiyan, Dom, and Nat, as Maha Dalits. They constitute 31 percent of the Dalit population in the state.

The commission has not included four Dalit castes — Paswan, Pasi, Dhobi and Chamar — in the Maha Dalit category. These four constitute 69 percent of the Dalit population in the state.

The 186-page report said the literacy rate among the Mehtar sub caste is only nine percent, while it is six percent among the Musahar and less than one percent among the Nat.

R.N. Sharma, a sociologist, said some sub castes among Dalits could not get any benefit from reservations due to the lack of education.

In educational institutions too the children of Maha Dalits were discriminated against and a majority of them dropped out of school. As a result, the literacy level among those castes was abysmally low. Most of the men and women belonging to these castes worked as bonded labourers.

Ramaiyah said the Maha Dalits “should be provided access to food, shelter, healthcare, education and means of livelihood”.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar constituted the commission in August this year for the welfare of certain Dalit castes which are socially and educationally backward and treated as untouchables even by other Dalits.

Bihar was the first state in the country to constitute a Maha Dalit Commission. It was decided the commission would study the status of the neglected sub castes among Dalits and suggest ways to uplift them.

Soon after the report was submitted to him, Nitish Kumar announced that the government would implement its recommendations from the next financial year.

The interim report asked the government to provide dwellings under the Indira Awas Yojna, hold emergency feeding programmes at Anganwadi levels, provide employment guarantee for 200 days a year and issue employment cards to Maha Dalits.