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GFOD report reveals alarming challenges faced by India’s CDWD; proposes urgent policy reforms 

The Global Forum of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent, in association with The Inclusivity Project released the ‘Status of in ', an in-depth, comprehensive report that not only explains, in great detail, the challenges faced by millions of CDWDs in India, but also offer recommendations to policymakers to ensure redressal of the concerns. 

The report, authored by Prachi Salve and Naveen Gautam, is an attempt to unravel the surrounding evolving landscape of political representation, legal protections, and educational opportunities for DWD communities in India, highlighting both progress and persisting challenges. 

Some of the key findings of the report include documenting communities' lack of progress on various socio-economic indicators, such as literacy rate, education, health indicators etc. 

“The rate of literacy among the SCs in India (66.1 percent) is significantly less than the national average (72.99 percent). Similarly, the household data shows that 71 percent of Dalits are landless. Women from the Dalit communities, in particular, lag further behind on these parameters. This is highlighted by statistics that show higher unemployment among Dalit women and poor health indicators. For example, unemployment among Dalit women (6.1 percent), is more than the national average of 4.5 percent. In terms of health, the average life span of Dalit women is comparatively much shorter and the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is significantly higher than the national average (about 27 percent),” the report points out. 

Read the Full report here

Worryingly, the report points out, slavery continues to exist in India too, with “deeply ingrained -based discrimination exacerbating the issue,” the authors point out. 

“Bonded labor remains a pervasive problem, particularly in agriculture, where a number of bonded labour systems continue to this day. Bitti-Chakri, a traditional type of unpaid farm and domestic labor system that almost exclusively employs Dalits was only recently discontinued by the Karnataka government in 2020,” the authors say, adding: “traditional structures of caste have systemically tied various Dalit communities to manual and exploitative work required in Brick kiln, mining and quarry. Many Dalit communities, such as Valmikis, Haila and Halalkhor and Dom continue to be inter-generationally engaged in their traditional caste occupation of manual scavenging with 98% manual scavengers being Dalits.” 

Using data sourced from the National Crime Records Bureau, authors Salve and Gautam point out that the number against SCs have increased in the last six years, with 2017 starting at 718 murder cases and reaching 954 in 2022. 

Crimes against SC women are of particular concern, with the number of reported cases of sexual harassment and rape increasing significantly over the years. 

“It is also crucial to recognize that the statistics concerning atrocities committed against the SC population conceal not only the large number of unreported crimes but also the various forms of discrimination that do not find language in the legal framework, but are a living reality for the DWD communities across India. These forms of discrimination range from economic discrimination involving forms of , cultural alienation, political domination and the sheer lack of access to justice,” the authors say. 

Recommendations: 

To address these challenges and envision the way forward, some of the following key recommendations are made are as follows:

  • Capacity building of policy implementers for better enactment of Govt. policies to ensure access to education, employment opportunities and adequate representation.
  • Disaggregated Data for The CDWD in India
  • Set up dedicated entrepreneurship development programs for DWD communities and job creation to promote livelihood opportunities.
  • Establish a dedicated body to monitor and respond to incidents of discrimination and hate crimes and providing support to victims of such incidents.
  • Enact and implement anti-discrimination Laws and laws that protect the rights of women and children in DWD communities.
  • Provision of Legal aid and support services for DWD communities.
  • Enactment of programs and projects to create sensitization and community participation, provide access to credit and financial services, and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, skill development.
  • Allocate adequate and proportional budget for education, skill development and ensuring land rights for DWD communities.
  • Organizational mechanisms should be established, such as National Commission for DWD Women, Special Courts for accessible and speedy justice to CDWD.
  • Establish National Review Committees for DWD Development and review of atrocities against CDWD. 

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