The constitution is paramount in India
With its diversity of ethnicities, languages and castes, India offers a picture of confusing differentiation.
The caste system / caste system is usually considered to be an exclusive feature of Indian society. The term caste, however, is not an Indian term, but derives from the Portuguese word "casta " (pure, unmixed) and was brought to India by the Portuguese colonial rulers at the beginning of the 16th century. The Indian name for caste is "jati " (Birth; type of birth, birth group).
The classic, ideal-typical model of Indian society comprises four hierarchically arranged 'classes', so-called "varnas ": Brahmins (priests, scholars), Kshatriyas (rulers, warriors), Vaishyas (farmers, traders) and Shudras (artisans, service providers). Below this hierarchy are the casteless - also called untouchables, who nowadays refer to themselves as Dalits. From the point of view of the four Varnas, the Dalits are considered unclean, with whom on the one hand one does not interact, but on the other hand they are used for certain services that are regarded as unclean. The Adivasis / Scheduled Tribes are also outside the caste system.
You are born into a caste, so ancestry is a decisive criterion for belonging to a caste / Jati. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for social mobility in this social order. In everyday Indian life it is not the four Varnas that play the leading role, but the numerous Jatis and their subgroups. Jatis are arranged in a hierarchical order and connected to one another, traditionally assigned to certain professional groups (washer, potter, hairdresser, etc.) and usually regionally distributed. This social order was and is subject to constant change, which has visibly accelerated since colonial times and especially after the country's independence. According to the Indian Constitution of 1950, no Indian may be discriminated against because of his caste membership, but the harsh reality does not correspond to this requirement.
There are around 200 million Dalits (the Broken) in India. The Dalits are increasingly resisting discrimination and extreme exploitation and calling for an end to "Indian apartheid". The Indian government is now to be put under pressure not only from within, but also through international solidarity, finally the existing legal precautions against the discrimination of Dalits to apply consistently.
At the beginning of May 2001, on the initiative of Bread for the World, the Dalit Solidarity Germany (DaSoDe) platform was founded in Frankfurt to support the Dalits to help in their struggle. With the establishment of Dalit Solidarity in Germany, the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) was expanded at the same time. In addition to organizations from South Asia and the USA on the European side, this includes the India Committee of the Netherlands and Dalit Solidarity Network UK. The NCDHR is active in India.
One of the most famous Dalits is Dr. Ambedkar, the "father of the constitution".
The Adivasi ("the first inhabitants") are made up of numerous and very different ethnic groups and make up around 7% of the total population. They are the most disadvantaged and excluded social group. There are around 500 indigenous peoples in total. These live mainly in wooded areas that are often difficult to access and in mountainous areas. According to the 2001 census, only about 2.4% of the Adivasi live in cities. A few years ago, an umbrella organization of the Adivasi Jai Adivasi Maha Sangh was founded, which is playing an increasing role in the fight for land rights.
The first Muslims appeared in India at the beginning of the 8th century. Today India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia with almost 200 million people (14% of the total population). Indian Muslims are mainly found in the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala. The group of Muslims in India is severely disadvantaged and often victims of so-called ethnic violence (communal violence, violence between ethnic groups), as the report of the official Sakhar Commission shows.
The gender ratio (the number of women in relation to men) is strongly distorted - to the disadvantage of women. In this context one often speaks of India's lost daughters. Although the gender ratio has improved slightly in the last two decades, there are still only 940 women per 1000 men in India. This is a consequence of the low value attached to women, which is partly due to the practice of dowry payments. Due to the preference for sons, female fetuses are aborted despite the prohibition, girls are systematically neglected, often mistreated, which in turn increases female child mortality. Many women experience domestic violence frequently after marriage. Dowry murders are the order of the day, and widows are often cast out by their families and their families after the loss of their husbands.
Many actors in civil society try to use concrete examples to present the life and work of Indian women with socially critical intentions and to give impulses for action towards a humane society. There are always examples that show how India's women overcome their victim role and take their fate into their own hands.
The fate of a 23-year-old Indian medical student who was cruelly raped by six men in an empty bus in New Delhi on December 16, 2012, seriously injured with an iron bar and then thrown naked from the bus caused a nationwide outcry. Despite all medical efforts, she died on December 29, 2012. Four perpetrators were sentenced to death in September 2013 and executed in the early morning of March 20, 2020. In a BBC documentary, the broadcast of which has been banned in India, the family members of the murdered student as well as one of her murderers and a defense lawyer have their say. Both men do not blame the perpetrator, but rather the victim for this crime. This clearly shows what image of women still prevails in the extremely patriarchal society of northern India.
But this brutal rape is not an isolated incident. Women in India, but also in other countries in South Asia, are victims of brutal sexual violence every day. It mainly affects members of socially degraded groups. For example, on September 14, 2020, a 20-year-old untouchable woman was raped so brutally by four men from high caste that she died two weeks later of the injuries she had suffered. Politicians and the police play a more than inglorious role in these cases.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQ)
The situation of the LGBTQ community in India is difficult, discrimination is the order of the day. In a high-profile ruling in 2018, India's Supreme Court overturned the 150-year-old criminal liability of homosexuality. The judgment is based on the equality of all citizens before the law. This recognizes individual and social diversity as the foundation of the constitution and society. The so-called third gender in India now also enjoys special rights.
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