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

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Nation and Its Battered Children

Care for all children is integral to the future of a responsive nation.

For many Indians from the marginalised sections of society, schooling can be an anxiety-ridden process wherein their dignity and self-respect are at stake. Reports on the safety of children suggest that abuse within educational institutions go unrecorded or unnoticed unless the victims themselves complain or the parents notice the injuries or changes in the behaviour of the child. In the Jalore case in Rajasthan, the abuse was very much known as the young victim narrated the incident and the concerned father noticed the injuries. Even before the grieving parents could come to terms with the traumatising loss of their child, the absence of a portable pot in the premises of the school, where the crime happened, is now being obsessively held by some corporate news media as an evidence against the dead child’s story of abuse and father’s claim of caste discrimination.

Evidence-based chroniclers of our social past tell us how the drinking water pot contains struggles to democratise the educational space and make it free from daily caste humiliation. Almost a century ago, in 1923, the Bombay Schools Committee passed an order to stop discriminatory practices in municipal schools. The new order was met with strong reactions by the conservative dominant castes, leading to the boycott of classes, strikes, and even the shutdown of a prominent financial institution to express their disapproval. The norm even in common schools was separate seating and drinking water for Dalit and non-Dalit students. This openly practised “not-so-hidden curriculum” of casteism in public institutions did not change immediately. It was the acts of disobedience by young Dalit students in the Agripada and Foras Road municipal schools that challenged this oppressive tradition in 1929.

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Updated On : 3rd Sep, 2022
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