The Tamil Nadu schools have recently made into national headlines for making children wear wrist bands of various colors for caste identification reasons. The Director of school education has asked the officials to take serious action for the act of discrimination. The director also mentioned that a circular has been sent out to all the schools to check about the discrimination practice, to seize such actions and to ensure severe action against such individuals.
Some of the schools in the state started to get the students to wear wrist bands in various shades like red, green, saffron, and yellow to identify the upper and lower castes. The students were also asked to wear rings, and tilaks on their forehead to mark their caste. The discrimination, however, starts at Anganwadi level and seeps in over the years.
At the Anganwadi level, the Non-Dalit students are allowed to bring their utensils for the consumption of food and the Dalits do not enjoy these privileges. Some students even wear singlets with the portrait of their caste leaders.
Mr Kathir, an activist mentioned that there has been a case in Coimbatore where a teacher called Dalit students as minuses and the non-Dalits as a plus.
Mr Kathir and the IAS officers also mentioned that the UN’s goal of sustainable development and quality of education for all before 2030. This goal is not only limited to infrastructure but also a discrimination-free environment. These unfair practices were used for assembling of classes, lunch intervals, and sports team selection. These practices were enforced by the teachers, influential caste persons, and the students themselves.
While the unfair treatment cases in the educational institutions come into light similar unfair practices in the other areas of life do not make it to the headlines. The problem of discrimination exists from decades ago and has to be removed from the grass-root level rather than just punishing the teachers for practising it. The Dalits themselves along with those who practice the mindset of unfair treatment need a change of thinking. Bringing the change and changing the way of thinking by people at all levels would take a bigger time window and would be much slower in terms of impact too. However, taking the necessary precautions to eradicate the same is extremely important.