ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Educational Inequalities among Scheduled Castes in Maharashtra

Despite a century old struggle for social and political reform and independence, literacy levels remain discouragingly low among substantial sections of the scheduled castes in Maharashtra. However, the rise in literacy rates has been marked by variations within the scheduled castes as borne out by census reports from 1961 onwards. The variations are based on levels of development, the migrancy factor and willingness to take on newer occupations, as well as traditions of hierarchy that continue to persist in the social system.

Education is considered to be animportant mechanism for developmentin India, especially for thescheduled castes and scheduled tribes Since these sections of our society weretraditionally and historically deprived oftheir basic rights, education was far awayfrom their reach. However, the advent ofBritish rule, the industrial revolution in thewest, modern technological growth andfast means of communication, togetherwith some social movements led to somechanges in the basic social structure ofIndian society. These changes were followedby the Indian national movementthat led to India’s independence. At thetime of independence, the nation declareditself to be a welfare state with the principleof equality and justice and committeditself by constitution to the welfare ofweaker sections like the scheduled castes(SCs), scheduled tribes(STs) and women Special incentives have been provided bythe Constitution to these sections mainlyin three sectors, i e, education, employmentand political representation

After completing 50 years of independenceand having experimented with specialwelfare programmes for these sections,it is high time to assess achievements Considering the key role of educationas an agent of change, it is worthseeing educational achievements amongthese deprived sections. We have restrictedour analysis of the educational situationto the scheduled castes (former untouchables) Although education has served asa positive contributor to the process ofplanned change, one finds that changeshave been restricted to urban areas, toparticular regions, and to particular castesand individuals among the scheduledcastes. There have been regional, ruralurban,malefemale and caste to castevariations across the country. For example,states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab,West Bengal among others have showeda better response in education. However,within the state, there are major regionaland internal imbalances among the scheduledcastes. Several studies have establishedthe phenomenon of particularcaste(s) in each state and region dominatingthe educational opportunities. Maharsof Maharashtra, jatavas of Uttar Pradesh,addharmis of Punjab, malas and madigasof Andhra Pradesh, pulayas of Kerala, etc,are some examples. However, this phenomenonof the dominance of particular casteshas been thoroughly neglected by scholars It requires a thorough empirical probeas to what factors are responsible for sucha situation. So far, studies have madeindirect references to these phenomena Our intention is to try and probe into thisphenomenon in the state of Maharashtrawhich is considered to be one of the mostadvanced as far as the educational progressof the scheduled castes is concerned.

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