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

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Personal Experience of Discrimination

I know the pains of being excluded. In the mid-day meal scheme in our school we (dalit children) were made to sit away from the Reddy and backward class children. Our only task was to collect firewood for making the upma. We were not even allowed to go anywhere near the cooking place. Our classmates used to call us in derogatory terms like “Areeh!!”, whereas we had to call them by their proper names only. For instance, a Reddy girl’s name is Meenakshi, we had to call her Meenakshamma, whereas she would call me Neelagaa (my name is Neelaiah). My elementary schoolteacher was a brahmin. He was a very good teacher, but he would never address the issue of social exclusion in the school.

My father was a bonded labourer. My father’s landlord’s son, Surendra, was my classmate. That fellow used to always say in the class that I was his servant’s son (“Neelagaadu is our Jeetagani Koduku”). I was a bright student in my class. But that merit never helped me to come out of caste oppression. During those days I was the only dalit to finish class 6 and go beyond, whereas my dalit friends had to become school dropouts. From the primary school I went to a Christian boarding home where caste inequality was not present, but in the school we were looked down upon by the non-hostel students.

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