Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2014
The theme of this chapter primarily emanates from the unconvinced nature of state interventions for the inclusion of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes, and the resultant dilemmas and challenges confronting the Indian state and society at large today. The Government of India, as a part of its socio-economic and political development objectives, planned and formulated certain interventionist strategies, by and large in continuation of the policies of the British colonial rule, for the upliftment of the Dalits. The first ray of hope for the latter in the post-independence period came from the implementation of the Constitution of India in 1950, which made provisions of fundamental rights for all its citizens irrespective of caste, race, colour, and gender, along with the Directive Principles of State Policy, granting socio-economic and political privileges. The purpose was that these privileges would help bridge the historically conditioned socio-economic and political gap between the high caste and the Dalits by bringing about improvement in the latter's status. Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolished untouchability, forbade its practice in any form and also made it a cognizable offence punishable under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. The constitutional privileges and promulgation of a law in theory have put an end to the exclusion of Dalits. Ironically, the practice of untouchability still continues in many parts of India and unfortunately, the socio-economic and political privileges granted to them have remained out of reach of a large percentage of Dalits.