Chennai: Three out of four Dalit households in rural Tamil Nadu are landless and dependent on manual casual labour for their livelihood, the Socio Economic and Caste Census data showed. The provisional data paints a grim picture of socio economic status of Dalit households in rural parts of the state. Out of the state’s total rural households of 1.006 crore, Dalits accounts for 25.71 lakh or 25.55 percentage of households. The state has the third highest number of SC population after Punjab (36.74 per cent) and West Bengal (28.45 per cent).
The state’s average percentage of homes without land and earning their income from labour is 55.8 per cent. But 73 per cent of Dalit households are landless and derive their income from casual and manual labour. The state has fourth highest percentage of landless Dalit homes after Punjab, Haryana and Bihar. As per Census data, there were 13.34 crore or 74.49 per cent households in the country where “monthly income of highest earning household member” was below Rs 5,000 a month.
Tamil Nadu, which is considered to be one of the developed states, fares very poorly in terms of rural income with over 78 per cent earn less than Rs 5000. When it comes to Dalit households, the state performs much worse and as many as 78 per cent draw less than Rs5000. Tamil Nadu untouchability eradication front president, P. Sampath, blamed caste oppression, including untouchability practised against Dalits for their deplorable socio economic condition in the state.
“Most of the agricultural workers are Dalits. They make their living out of manual work,” he said. Through encroachment and land grabbing, caste forces have taken away even Panchami land and depressed class land allotted to the Dalits during British period. “Dalits were also denied patta for the depressed class land. That is the plight of Dalits in the state,” he said. He noted that the state government has recently allotted a substantial amount for using transplanting machines as part of the drought package.
“Using of transplanting machines in paddy cultivation will make Dalit peasants jobless,” he said. Pointing to the renewed aggression of the caste forces in the state, Sampath, who is also CPI (M)’s central committee member, said caste organisations have launched a virulent anti-Dalit campaign in the state. “The gravity of the situation can be known from the fact that 60 honour killing incidents were recorded in the state in the last three years. Most of the victims were Dalits,” he said....