In comparison to other Indian states, Punjab is often considered free from acute caste-based inequalities and atrocities, even though the caste system exists and prevails in the structure of everyday life of the Punjabis. It has been argued that certain visible changes have occurred among the dalits, a marginalized group in Indian society. But, not all the castes among the dalits have been able to transform their social and economic conditions that could have altered their self-perception, as well as their status. More mobile castes, particularly the Ad-dharmis, have constructed their own distinct and insulated world in which the dalit and self have become coterminous. Urban dalits have undergone rapid change in their conditions, which they have transformed into political empowerment at the local level. Despite the changes however, there are certain aspects of their social life which have not undergone change. Much of this is related to the consciousness of the dalits. The existence and belief in the caste hierarchy could be gauged by the fact that they still predominantly favor caste endogamy. Moreover, the manifest emphasis on caste identity under the overarching influence of the politics of the Bahujan Samaj Party has created conditions where the realization of the goal to end the caste system appears to be a remote possibility. Based on an empirical investigation of rural and urban Punjab, India, this book explores the social mobility patterns of the dalits. Four dimensions - education, empowerment, emigration, and entrepreneurship - have been examined to map the changing character of the dalits.
Publication Date: 12/1/2009
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