Much-touted 'golden era' is not working for India’s poor, who continue to face social discrimination
India’s state-run National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said in a report last year that crimes against Dalits (formerly untouchables) increased by 1.2 percent in 2021. (Photo: AFP)
Christian leaders in India say the federal government’s promise of a “golden era” looks empty after an upper caste man urinated on a Dalit woman, in the second such incident reported from a northern state in less than 50 days.
“While the country celebrates Amrit Kaal [golden era], we hear the news of discrimination, attacks, murders and insults against Dalits,” Father Vijay Kumar Nayak, secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s office for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, told UCA News.
He was referring to a Sept. 22 incident reported from Bihar’s state capital Patna, where a socially poor Dalit woman was beaten up and stripped for failing to repay a loan of Rs. 1,500 (US$18) along with the interest.
The accused Pramod Singh told his son Anshu Singh to urinate into the woman’s mouth but she somehow managed to escape the ordeal, police said.
Earlier, the father-son duo along with four others went to the woman’s house and forcibly pulled her out. She sustained head injuries due to the physical assault and was hospitalized. Her condition is critical, police added.
In her complaint to police, the woman said she had paid off the loan with interest.
She further alleged that police had initially turned down her request for help and turned up late for the rescue.
The Catholic leader recalled a similar incident reported on July 5 from Madhya Pradesh state, where an office-bearer of the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party had allegedly urinated on a man from the tribal community.
The term ‘Amrit Kaal’ was first used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of India’s 75th Independence Day address, on Aug 15, 2021. It originates from Vedic astrology and indicates a golden era with the hope for a better future, where India would be self-reliant and fulfill its humanitarian obligations.
India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had outlined the “vision of Amrit Kaal” as a period when the “fruits of development” reach the Dalits and tribal people.
Father Nayak said it definitely “was not an Amrit Kaal for Dalits and tribal people.”
They are always excluded, he said while stressing that the country needs to be inclusive of all sections of society.
Mukti Prakash Tirkey, a human rights activist based in the national capital New Delhi, said: “There is no fear of law when it comes to committing crimes against the weak and downtrodden people.”
Dalits make up over a quarter of India's population of 1.4 billion.
Last year’s National Crime Records Bureau data said crimes against Dalits increased by 1.2 percent in 2021. The northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh top the list.
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