State, Market and Labour: A Dalit Perspective
Since last three decades, one of the key labour market developments observed is the phenomenon of labour market segmentation in India: the division of labour markets into separate submarkets, distinguished on the basis of social characteristics such as caste, class and gender. This segmentation is problematic because it is linked with poor quality of jobs, discrimination, humiliation and inequalities. The birth identity of a caste marker determines the person’s initial endowments, ability to access market opportunities and capacity to utilize his/her full potential skills in India. In this paper, we have examined the historical evolution of caste as oppressing institution for forcefully excluding the Dalits from accessing educational, civic and economic rights and pushing them at the margin of vulnerability. While doing so, we also re-examine the historical struggle of Dalits in securing those fundamental rights as assured by the Constitution of India in the post-independence period. Many scholars argue that globalization is welfare enhancing for Dalits as it brings out equal market opportunities for all, whereas others argue that it perpetuates graded inequality and discrimination since the state intervention is minimal. We argue that employment discrimination against Dalits is substantial in the post-liberalization period especially in the private sector, and that discrimination occurs to a large extent in unequal access to jobs. Furthermore, the caste-based discrimination inevitably reinforces social conflicts in the society. Caste-based discrimination is detrimental to the social cohesion as it increases the propensity to commit atrocities against Dalits in the neoliberal era. Dalits under the globalization has been forced to accept the caste-based occupations which are more likely to be precarious in nature. As a result, Dalit workforce is pushed towards the margins and compelled to accept dirty jobs in modern India.
KeywordsPrecarious work Dalit Caste India Discrimination Dalit capitalism Affirmative action
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