Saturday, 2 August 2008

Pain Of Being Untouchables: Gypsies And Dalits
By Pardeep
02 August, 2008Countercurrents.org
Why Gypsies are discriminated? When asked from friends (Anna, Tibor Derdak) of Hungary they simply replied “we are dark skinned”, “we are different like this from centuries”, “born under dark clouds, stars”!! The replies were just stunning & confusing. Dictionary meaning of Gypsy is “member of nomadic people of Europe with dark skin”. Dalits means people having no caste or people from outside of society, i.e. no place in society. This all lead to think that Gypsies/Romas are the Untouchables/Dalits of Europe!! Their way of life is so alien to that of the local Europeans.
The Gypsies of Hungary & Dalits of India remains lower of lowest caste irrespective of their countries are just experiencing poverty that is not officially acknowledged, and lower status in society. Both (Gypsies & Dalits) are considered as filthy, impure, and lesser than human even in the modern society.
Likewise Dalits are untouchable here in India & comes at the bottom of traditional Hindu caste system, on the same line Gypsies of Hungary come at the bottom line of Hungarian society. Generally impure work like killing, disposal of waste, gardening etc is given to Gypsies like Dalits here in India do. In Hungary, gypsy children are still taken from their parents to be trained as musicians, a traditional occupation for gypsy males. There is nothing new for the gypsies. In olden days, the gypsies of Eastern Europe were treated like animals, or worse. Gypsies are not allowed to sit in classrooms with normal children likewise used to happen/happening in Indian Dalits. There are separate schools for them in Hungary. No one likes to sit beside Gypsies!! Even the shadows of Gypsies are considered worse than anything.
Gypsies are about 7-8% of the total population of Hungary. Gypsies have had problems with social acceptability since they are considered to have left India, probably around 1300 AD. They have been discriminated and persecuted for centuries. They are the first to be suspected and booked in any crime and indiscipline. The very word gypsy is used as an insult to indicate a cheat. Media there in Hungary associate them to criminal activities like in Bihar state (India) jails are filled with Dalit/Muslim youths. Almost all English movies shows Gypsies as criminal like Muslims are shown here in India!! This is what made much people to set their notion towards Gypsies. But truth is that most of the Gypsies want to earn honest living-hood, but who cares to give them chance? Same as Dalits, Gypsies also don’t have much say in electronic as well as print media. Education level of Gypsies is worrisome part, not more than 5-6% of the total young population of Gypsies passes secondary schools. Poverty & family/social pressure are mainly responsible for all these highly dropout rate, like here in India same is compelling Dalits children to stay away from schools. Another factor is not much encouragement Gypsies & Dalit children get from follow partners or from society, which is necessary for one’s development. What they can do when whole society see them with third eye!! Life expectancy, employment/jobs etc is much lower for Gypsies. Dalits & Gypsies are always kept under the harsh, painful conditions & lesser chance of improvement is given by the society.
The traditional lifestyle of the Romas is often an obstacle to integration into society and it is a source of conflicts, especially in the villages. As a result, school segregation is especially acute, with many Roma children sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities. Slightly more than 80% of Roma children complete primary education, but only one third continues studies into the intermediate (secondary) level. This is far lower than the more than 90% proportion of children of non-Roma families who continue studies at an intermediate level. The situation is made still worse by the fact that a large proportion of young Roma are qualified in subjects that provide them only limited chances for employment. Less than 1% of Roma hold higher educational certificates. Their low status on the job market and higher unemployment rate cause poverty, widespread social problems and crime. (See an abstract of Poverty & Ethnicity: A Cross Country Study of Roma Poverty in Central Europe by the World Bank)
Gypsies marry among themselves like Dalits do, marring between different castes, class are looked down & many a times are disowned by the society!! Most of the Gypsy people live in the isolation & apart from the society. Some 20% of all Hungarians now live under the poverty line & most of them are Gypsy people like here in India about 40% live under poverty & almost all Dalits!! On the name of development almost all Governments have turned blind eye to the Dalits. Constitution provides full rights to Dalits & Gypsies; also provide some social, political safeguards but who cares to give equal rights to them? While civil right movements continues in both countries for last so many years but condition hasn’t changed much as caste/class differences has been deep rooted in both societies that law can only improve little bit for these lower caste people. Untouchabilty which has been abolished since 1950s is still persisting in Indian society. Dalits & Gypsies both don’t have such facilities, education & confidence (that comes only through education) to bring change, which is the need of the time. Rather than giving chance to grow, educate, do well in society people show sympathy to these communities but its time not to show sympathy but give them chance to learn, grow equal with the others. Even if Gypsies get financial help most of that is siphoned off likewise happen with Indian Dalits. Rather than giving fish to anyone, let him teach/learn how to do fishing, person will earn himself.
Do Dalits & Gypsies get equal opportunities in their own country? Size of Indian Dalits & Gypsies/Roma population has increased rapidly. Today every fifth or sixth newborn Hungarian child belongs to the Roma community. Estimates based on demographic trends claim that in 2050 15-20 percent of the population will be Roma, but will be the needs, requirements, facilities available for the Gypsies at that time is a big concern, same here is true with Indian Dalits. Will they (Dalits & Gypsies) be able to feed, give education to children, and get them well placed in life?
Here also comes the question that how many of the Gypsies & Dalits are living with DIGNITY & PRIDE in their own nation? People who believe in “Basic Human Rights” from all over the world have to come forward to destroy this inhuman behavior done to Dalits & Gypsies and give justice to millions of people suffering since last thousands of years. These untouchables will continue being lower than lowest till positive steps for improvement are not taken & the traditional way of thinking, mentality of Hungarians & Indians don’t change. It’s shameful when we talk with all discrimination, segregation - to establish superiority that we are living in 21st centaury – scientific world!!
Dalits & Gypsies need to be proud of being their culture. There is also a need to make aware people about the atrocities happening to them, make them live with consciousness.
If we want to succeed, we need to fail again & again, also to learn from failures. A person who has not failed is the one who hasn’t tried ever. We need to give moral support to our fellow colleagues that they can do better. It’s a time to make a difference. We just need to give time from our busy life, to encourage others in their strife, bring best out of you, your family & friends we can give confidence, encouragement & positive thoughts. We need to keep aside our selfishness & come forward to work for humanity. This way we can make a big difference, otherwise it won’t take much time for India & Hungary to be a country of million beggars. Media need to play an important positive role in making people aware about Dalit & Gypsies discrimination as what media present society believes!!
Loose pieces of paper get lost & are forgotten easily, together we rise; separated we fall!!

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