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Dalits and Landlessness in India

In today’s era of Hindutva in India, the so-called backward castes are in an existential crisis. In India citizenship requires entitlement to land along with other essentials but this being of the utmost importance has always being a discriminating factor for the Dalits in India. Without land one is always exposed to insecurities. Even after so many years Dalit are not independent in India. They are displaced people, exiled in their ancestral land, wandering about as stateless subjects. They’ve been here as long as any of us have yet their landlessness takes away their legal, official and constitutional validity as an Indian. This landlessness gives exclusive rights to landowners to question their legitimacy and belonging. They’re continually being harassed and exploited by the hands of the resourceful.

According to a study by census of India it was found that 71% Dalits are landless laborers. In 58% of the rural areas, Dalit household own no amount of land. This has forced them to migrate to cities in search of odd jobs that are usually the lowest paying like house helps, security guard etc. The Socio Economic caste census of 2011 reports that 8.3% landless Dalit households derive their income from manual causal labor including begging.

Here in cities they are discriminated further as they’re looked upon by members of higher castes and are not allowed to rise.  The agricultural census of India 2015-16 reveals that Dalits own only about 9% of the total agricultural land. The situation is grim in Dalit dominated states like Haryana, Punjab and Bihar where 85% are dependent on the landlords. The corresponding number is 60% in case of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha. In many districts of states like Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, 90% of the Dalits are agricultural laborers.

Credit : Landlessness takes away Dalits's legal and offical validity as Indian Citizen by Suraj Yenode

Hindustan Times 1.07.2019

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