When it comes to paying back to the society, most Dalit elites in Maharashtra have been found wanting, a study has found, affirming the common notion that the beneficiaries of the reservation policy do not help out their community, which is still among most socially and economically disadvantaged group in India.
What was the study called?
'Social benefits of reservation: a study of paying back tendency among Dalits'.
Who conducted it?
Prof Prahlad Jogdand, dean, faculty of arts, Mumbai University.
Which were the places where the interviews took place?
Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad.
What was he trying to find out?
Whether the Dalit elites in Maharashtra, who had the capacity and the social responsibility to help their brethren, did that. If not, who benefited on account of their rise in the socio-economic ladder.
How many Dalit elites did he interview?
What were the respondents asked?
They were asked whether they did any kind of work to uplift the not-so-fortunate members of their community. They were also asked whether they undertook any kind of social work. To cross-check, people from their larger family and native place were also interviewed.
What were the assumption before the study?
The research had begun with the assumption that reservation benefits are for the collective good and individuals are the important medium through which these benefits are passed on to the whole community, especially since state-sponsored efforts have been skewed.
What were his findings?
The onus of social change has always been on the elite in neglected communities. However, even after having attained good positions in the society, more than a third of the affluent Dalits (29%) in the state don't help others in their community financially, motivate them individually or work through caste organisations. Among the other 71% respondents who admitted to having helped their community, most spent as little as Rs20,000 on others; only a handful spent above Rs1 lakh.
Who are the direct beneficiaries of these 'creamy layer' elites?
Their children, mostly.
What is the overall condition of Dalits in the state?
According to the study, the overall condition of scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST), particularly in rural areas, remains unchanged. This has also got to do with the poor implementation of welfare schemes, inadequate funds, corruption and fall of Ambedkerite organisations.
Response of sociologists and activists
Human nature is same across communities. Some people go out of the way to help while others don't pay heed. Globalisation, rising aspirations and inflation has changed the priorities of Indians at large, including Dalits. People are self-focused. Moreover, the younger generation of Dalits don't believe in casteism anymore, at least in the cities, which has led to decline in such social activities – Dr Tushar Jagtap, social activist and Ambedkerite
Reservation benefits are for the collective good. But that's not happening, and that undermines the purpose of reservation. We should not however discredit those who are doing good work – Prof Prahlad Jogdand, dean, faculty of arts, MU.
According to the study, 71% of the Dalit elites are helping the community in some way or the other. If that's true, then it's a good sign – Prakash Ambedkar (grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar), chairperson, Maharashtra Democratic Front, an umbrella organisation of a dozen Dalit parties.
Nagpur's rich Dalits are least bothered about helping the community. The city has the highest number of educated SC population in the state. The number of Dalits in cities across Maharashtra who do not help those in their community financially (in percentage).
Nagpur: 58%; Mumbai: 25%; Pune: 18%; Nashik: 20%; Aurangabad: 25%.