Inferior by Birth

I belong to a small village in Gujarat. I have spent most of my life in a city, but some of my relatives still live in that village. My caste and other castes ‘lower’ than ours live on the edge of the village. We have our own temple, not meant for the rest of the village. Castes like bhangi and Dhedhs still do all the dirty work and are discriminated against by people of my caste as well.

At the time of independence, my grandfather protested against such discrimination by walking into an upper caste temple. Although he got the entry, but on the next day, the entire temple was ‘purified’ with milk and they were warned. My grandparents still refuse to talk about the times they worked as land labourers on the land of a “satwara” land owner because thinking of that time still brings them pain.

Even in the city, my parents have always tried to gel in by not having any of the caste markers like pictures of Babsaheb Ambedkar or Sant Kabir at home. They still have a small temple at home with pictures of gods, they don’t believe in. Maids refuse to work for us and a lot of people like electricians and my father’s colleagues have refused to even drink water at our homes because of our caste.

At work, my father was bullied and made to work ungodly hours. He got transferred multiple times to unfavorable locations and denied promotion as well.

Insinuation that an SC cannot be good enough is very common. In school I was often called, Bhangi and a freeloader because I would get entry into any college apparently. I've been in a meeting in an NGO I was Vice President of, where all other non-SC members made ridiculous remarks about an ill-dressed SC man for a video. They continued to do so until I stormed out of the room. I got no apology or no backing in return due to which I had to ultimately leave the organisation.

I would say my experiences are slight compared to those of my family and other members from the SC community. Casteism exists within and outside our community. These insights are not difficult to know of, for most people belonging to the Scheduled Caste community have had similar experiences.

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