“Mahad Satyagraha not for Water but to Establish Human Rights.” wrote Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar [Writings and Speeches, Volume 17, Part 1] 20th March 2017 marked the 90th anniversary of Mahad Satyagraha, where Dr Ambedkar led Dalits (untouchables) to Chawdar Tank to exercise the right provided by the law.
[bctt tweet=”All the governments have failed to protect the rights of Dalits. ” username=”velivada”]
Maybe it is the only agitation in the history which was undertaken for securing the right to drink water and if you think now everything is normal and Dalits don’t struggle to have access to water then you are mistaken.
Caste discrimination is present in every sphere of life in India but here I will mention only discrimination related to water access. We believe nothing has changed for Dalits since last 90 years still Dalits in India have to fight for the equal rights guaranteed by the Consitution.
Access to water is still denied to Dalits at many places and are beaten or killed many times if they try to drink water from the forbidden places.
According to Article 17 of the Indian Constitution,”Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.” In 2015, the Dalit population was approximately 170 million.
A study conducted in 2006 found that in India more than 20% Dalits did not have access to safe drinking water and 48.4 % of Dalit villages were denied access to a water source.
Discrimination and violence against Dalits in the areas of water security have been a prolonged and severe human rights issue in India for centuries.
Despite 1947 constitutional guarantees against discrimination and the 1989 SC/ST Atrocities Act designed to curtail and punish abuses against the marginalised and aggrieved minority, progress remains slow.
Recent data underscores the realities of water deprivation. “About 27% of Dalits households have water sources within premises whereas for others it stands at 45.2%; 19.5% of Dalit households have access to drinking sources away from their premises whereas it stands at 14.4% for others. 32.2% of Dalit households have access to drinking water from a tap whereas for others it stands at 40.1%.
All the governments have failed to protect the rights of Dalits. Fight for social equality and access to water is still going on even after 90 years of Mahad Satyagraha.
Here are a few recent new clips highlighting the problem of caste discrimination and access to water for Dalits. One can find such news every day in newspapers.
Source of Data: Water Rights in Southeast Asia and India – By Ross Michael Pink