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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Social Exclusion of Classes and Tribes” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Social Exclusion of Classes and Tribes: Remedies and Responses

“Social Exclusion: Rhetoric, Reality, and Response’, a research project launched by the International Institute of Labour Studies (IILS) (part of the ILO) at the instance of the UNDP, was supposed to be a major input on social exclusion to the recently held world summit for Social Development. A close look at this study, however, reveals that its use of social exclusion is not only narrow and Eurocentric, but, in keeping with the main concern of the IILS, which is also labour-centred.

For a highly stratified society like India, where social exclusion is too complex, deeply embedded in India’s caste and cultural quagmire, poverty and exclusion from labour and labour markets (the other inputs of the IILS to the Summit) are only derivatives. The IILS project has hardly anything to offer on basic needs. From the last-minute volte-face of the IILS by reneging on its commitment on the major component of the Indian study based on caste, and from the glaring omission of caste-based social exclusion from its study, one gets the impression that there was a belated attempt at annihilation of caste at Geneva as well.

Whether India would have benefited at all from the Summit even with a detailed study of caste exclusion is a different issue. What is to the point is, social exclusion is too complex and convoluted to be pushed into an economic straitjacket and equated with poverty and market exclusions as the IILS project has attempted to do.

Social exclusion is pervasive. and characteristic of all societies, appearing in different forms with different degrees of intensities; for all intensities are classified in some way, all classifications are based on social distinctions, and virtually all social distinctions mean exclusion of some kind. However, the term is not used here in this catchall sense, but in the sense of systematic marginalization and exclusion of individuals and groups from one or more dimensions of society such as its structures of power and privilege, opportunities and resources.

Social exclusion is intertwined with, and is the working out of societal processes underlying structural inequalities, social stratification, social ordering, social control, social coordination, multiple configurations and reconfiguration of social life; and exclusionary practices manifest as dominance and dependence, super ordination and subordination, privileges and disabilities, and so on.

As a social phenomenon, social exclusion is defined in many ways, interpreted differently in different contexts at different times. It is also loaded with numerous economic, social political and cultural connotations and dimensions, and saturated with meanings, non-meanings, and counter-meanings, so that as a concept it is “essentially contested’, evolving, and context-specific.

Exclusion discourse has recently become part of the political vocabulary of European countries. Today Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Portugal have introduced institutions to discuss or act on exclusion. The discourse figures prominently in French of political rhetoric. and in the construction of the European Union.

In France, the discourse appeared in the 1960s with vague and ideological references to the poor as “the excluded”. In 1974, the Gaullist Chirac government estimated that “the excluded” made up one-tenth of the French population: “…mentally and physically handicapped, suicidal people, aged, invalids, abused children, substance abusers, delinquents, single parents, multi-problem households, marginal social persons and other social ‘misfits’ all unprotected by social insurance at the time but labelled as ‘social problems’.”

The discourse became widespread in the 1980s when the term became central to French debates about the nature of the “new poverty” associated with technological change and economic restructuring and came to refer to more and more types of social disadvantage: and more importantly, to a process of social disintegration, a progressive rupture of a social bond between the individual and society, referred to as social solidarity, as a result of long-term transformations in the structure and organisation of economic life.

As a result of this tearing of the social fabric, and in response to criticism of the Socialist Government for rising unemployment and the new poverty by the Right and the Communist opposition. by the mid-1980s, exclusion became a new way to describe the difficulty of establishing solidarities between individuals and groups and the larger society. In the early 1990s the Commissariat General au Plan (CGP) in France, which is responsible for designing and evaluating policies to combat exclusion, recognised the State’s responsibility to nourish “social cohesion”, and the need for a different conception of social justice than the one underlying the post-war social compromise which simply insured the population against predictable risks.

As in France, exclusion has recently become a key concept in other countries in Western Europe, reflecting attempts to reconceptualise social disadvantage in the face of major economic and social transformations. But its meanings are embedded in the emergence of the term in French Political rhetoric and the specific institutional history or the European Union.

Whereas in the French tradition, the concept of citizenship and social integration underlies the notion of social exclusion, in the liberal individualist tradition which permeates Anglo-Saxon thinking, citizenship is a social contract based on the possession of equal rights by all individuals, and social integration is viewed in terms of the freely-chosen relationships between individuals, rather than a relationship between the individuals and society.

However, this conceptual divide has not prevented the wider adoption of the term in Western Europe. In 1989, the Council and Ministers of Social Affairs of the European Community passed a resolution to foster integration and a “Europe of ‘Solidarity’ by fighting social exclusion.” The Preamble to the European Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights-stated, “It is important to combat every form of social exclusion and discrimination, on the grounds of race, colour, and religion.” The European Commission’s White Paper “Growth, Competitiveness, Employment”, called for fighting exclusion and “the poverty in two”. The Commission has taken up the concept of social exclusion as central to the formation of social policy, and linked it with the idea that it is the inadequate realisation of social rights. The Observatory on National Policies to Combat Social Exclusion defined exclusion in relation to the social rights of citizens to a certain basic standard of living and to participation in the major social and occupational opportunities of the society.

The exclusion discourse in Europe has been in response to “the new social problems” thrown up by the profound economic restructuring and social transformations which the advanced capitalist countries have been undergoing since the mid-1970s„ so much so that the discourse is mostly confined to these problems, and to the advanced capitalist countries. The discourse also does not attempt to capture exclusion as a complex social phenomenon characterised by the interplay of historical and contemporary, cultural and structural factors, a phenomenon which is widely prevalent in stratified societies like India.

An alternative to this Eurocentric approach is the “Closure Theory’ developed by Max Weber, and elaborated by Frank Parkin, Randall Collins, and Raymond Murphy, for the analysis of domination in society and the countervailing struggle provoked by such domination. That is, for the analysis of stratification, class, class struggle, and communal struggle, though the theory is more in the nature of “abstracted empiricism”.

Weber used the term closure to refer to the process of subordination, which is very relevant to understand the continuing exclusion of the bulk of the Indian population from the mainstream society. In this process; as conceived by Weber, one group monopolises advantages by closing off opportunities to another group of outsiders beneath it which it defines as inferior and ineligible. Any convenient, visible characteristic, such as race, language, social organ and religion, can be used to declare competitors to be outsiders.

Central to the understanding of Weber’s theory is his view of the role of ideas and interest in history: “No ideas, but material and ideal interests, directly govern men’s conduct. Yet very frequently the ‘world images’ that have been created by ‘ideas’ have, like switchmen determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the dynamic of interest”. By asking just what those tracks are which are determined by world images and along which action is pushed by the dynamic interest. Murphy has argued that they are none other than formal or informal, overt or covert rules governing the practices of monopolisation and exclusion. It is these exclusionary rules and codes that regulate and govern society.

To sustain this argument, Murphy has given examples of certain world images, based on specific ideas, responsible for (a) laws guaranteeing private property and the market; (b) political rules which govern the wielding of power in the Communist Party; (c) credential rules for entry into bureaucratic positions and corporatist groups; (d) laws governing racial exclusion and inclusion; (e) citizenship requirements as a set of exclusionary barriers which differentiate human beings according to nationality; and so on.

Weber’s ideas on closure are scattered in his voluminous work, Economy and Society in the context of his discussion of status groups, power, domination, and monopolisaiton. So, Murphy is justified in claiming that on the surface Weberian Closure theory hardly appears to constitute a unified approach”. However, in understanding the intricacies of the exclusion-domination mechanisms, as expressed through stratification system such as in India, a close look at the salient features of Weber’s closure theory as interpreted by Murphy may be useful.

Closure is achieved when institutions and cultural distinction not only create boundaries that keep others out against their will, but are also used to perpetrate inequality. Those within bounded social entities enjoy a Monopoly over scarce resources. The monopoly creates bonds of common interest among otherwise unequal insiders. The excluded are, therefore, outsiders and dominated at the same time.

In the overall structure of exclusion in society, a distinction may be made between three types of exclusion tandem; dual or paired; and polar. Most societies have a tandem structure of exclusion, with derivative and contingent sets of exclusion rules harnessed to one principal form of exclusion. That is, the set of exclusion rules, backed by the legal apparatus of the State, which is the main determinant of access to. or exclusion from power, resources, and opportunities in society. The principal form of exclusion around which society is organised can be discerned not only by the particular importance of its effects, but also by the fact that it dominates and renders dependent other forms of exclusion. Examples of the principal form of exclusion are the legal title to private property in capitalist societies, the exclusionary code based on the operation of the communist party in Stale-socialist societies and those based on purity and pollution in traditional Indian society.

The derivative forms are got directly from the principal form. Although they proceed from the principal form, they are not identical with it. They are emergent forms, which are none-the less distinct from the form from which they emerge. Examples are mechanisms that tend to exclude racial, ethnic, religious groups, or the sexes, mechanisms which derive their force from the state-backed legal structures of private property in capitalist societies, the communist party in State-socialist societies, or interpretations of laws attributed to the now infamous Manu for different types of caste, and sex-based discriminations and exclusions in traditional Indian society, or the contemporary aberration called Hindutva which excludes and discriminates against religious minorities.

The contingent forms of exclusion arc the remaining exclusion rules in society. Although not directly derived from the principal form, the very nature of these rules depends on the principal form and their very existence is contingent on it. Examples are professional, credential, and licence requirement (like those of doctors).

Societies having a tandem structure of exclusion can be characterised by their principal exclusionary form: aristocratic society by lineage exclusion; capitalist society by exclusion based on the legal title to the private ownership of the means of production: command or State-socialist society by an exclusionary code related to the holding of office in the Communist Party; and Hindu society by multiple exclusions based on the characteristics of the caste system.

The dual or paired structure has two principals, and relatively complementary sets of exclusion rules. Example is the paired structure of apartheid and property in South Africa, characterised by two principal sets of exclusion laws, one pertaining to property and the other to race. Property laws set the determination of material success and of the control of rewards, resources and opportunities, according to the ownership of property Apartheid laws completely exclude black people from accumulating property. Going by Manusmriti this structure is applicable to most castes in traditional Indian society, especially the Dalits who were excluded from ownership of land and related resources.

The polar structure of closure has two principal but opposed sets of exclusion rules as in the contemporary world system, one based on private property and the other on the Communist Party, characterised by the paradoxical dependence of each of the principal forms of closure upon the opposition of and usurpation by the other.

Exclusionary codes are not permanent, however much they may appear so while they are flourishing. They are transformed in at least two ways: one, contradictions build up as the codes are elaborated. The excluded react in their own interest against their exclusion. Thus, new ideas and new world images are created which eventually transform exclusionary codes. Two, and related, the reigning world images are seen as incompatible with the tracks created by the earlier ones. However, this does not mean that these tracks have been completely abandoned. Instead, they are laid underground in covert, informal network systems and exclusion rules along which the dynamic of interest has produced backstage exclusionary practices. These are partly responsible for the maintenance of discriminations and inequalities among races, castes, and the sexes.

As exclusion involves domination, all the types of exclusions have the potential to provoke usurpation practices among the excluded groups. The successful usurpation of what previously appeared to be an accepted code of exclusion and its replacement by another is characteristic of the most important social transformations in history.

The Weberian closure theory goes beyond the Marxian conception of exploitation by focusing on the process of monopolisation and exclusion which underlie both appropriation of labour and exclusion from productive labour. Many of the most extreme forms of domination and oppression, even in capitalist societies, are not well addressed by the Mandan conception of exploitation. The chronically unemployed suffer not exploitation in the Marxian sense of the creation of surplus value through the appropriation of their unpinned labour, but exclusion from the very process of wage labour through which exploitation in this sense occurs.

The term “social exclusion” as understood in Europe has not been widely used in developing countries. However, for a long time now exclusion discourse has been a major feature of Indian society. This needs to be understood against the background of the caste system. Caste, traditional India’s principal category of social ordering and control, the most elaborate version of ascription oriented social stratification ever known, which has dominated the lives of the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent for nearly three millennia, is also the most exhaustive and obnoxious of all known exclusionary systems. Caste exclusions are implicit from the principal features of the traditional caste society; segmental division, with membership and status determined by birth, hierarchy, with definite (though not always clear-cut) scheme of social precedence amongst the castes; commensality, with restrictions on feeding and social intercourse; segregation of castes, with corresponding civil and religious privileges and disabilities; hereditary occupation, and related lack of unrestricted choice of occupations; and endogamy, with restrictions on marriage from outside the sub-caste.

They are writ large in Manusmnfi, among other things. in the duties and occupations ordained for the four chief castes (Karnes); in its “do’s” and “don’ts” for them; and in its treatment of women, and “mixed-castes” or castes of low origin” of which the most despised are Chandalas, the fierce” or lowest untouchables. Caste exclusions are the most glaring in the traditional practice of “distance pollution”, untouchability, and treatment of certain castes as “unapproachable” and “unseeable”.

Caste exclusions are rationlised, justified, and legitimised in different ways, mostly based on Manusmrib, and by the doctrine of Karma and metapsychosis: The belief that certain groups are intrinsically inferior to others, justified by attributional theories differently determined access to the culturally defined desirables, with a caste’s rank justified by ritual purity or impurity; the perception of Hindu society as a differentiated but integrated order in which the different parts have different rights, duties, privileges and disabilities as determined by the position of the caste-group in relation to the whole, and so on.

As the tandem structure of exclusion in India is very old, still persisting in different forms, exclusion discourse relating to it is also very old. It is possible to discern at least four strands of suet, discourse, all directed against the discriminatory, oppressive, exploitative, and exclusionary practices of the caste system.

First, the protest movements, a major feature of the caste society ever since the sixth century B.C. when Buddhism and Jainism arose in opposition to Brahminism and rejected, among other things, the supremacy of the Brahmins and the inequality of caste.

The Bhakti movements in different parts of the country throughout the middle-ages, and Veerasaivism in 12th century Karnataka, challenged the established hierarchy of caste in the name of equality among men. The Brahmo Samaj, founded by Rammohan Roy in 1828. repudiated caste, and established the brotherhood of men irrespective of caste or creed. The Arya Samaj, founded by Dayananda Saraswati in 1875, removed the element of birth as the basis of hierarchy, promoted inter-caste marriage, and encouraged admitting the untouchables into the category of touchables. The Satya Shoclak Samaj, founded by Jotirao Phule in 1873, blamed the Hindu religion for creating inequality in society, and the Brahmins for fabricating “sacred scriptures” to maintain their social dominance, and asserted the worth of man irrespective of caste. Sri Narayana Guru, active as a socio-religious reformer for four decades since the 1890s, attacked the caste system, especially the supremacy of Brahmins, who had denied the lzhhavas and othor low caste Hindus the right to participate in Brahminical Hinduism, including the right to study the Vedas and to worship non-alcoholic and vegetarian deities. He wanted his followers not to believe in differences based on castes and exhorted them to work for the abolition of the caste system.

B.R. Ambedkar, who described the caste system as a gradation of castes forming an ascending scale of reverence and as descending scale of contempt, like Ram Manohar Lohia and E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar), advocated its annihilation. It is the new political culture Ambedkar built up in articulating the socio-political rights of the untouchables which culminated in the constitutional provisions for formal equality to all and special dispensation to the historically disadvantaged, in particular the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Second, since the early 19th century, caste came under severe attack by Christian missionaries like William Ward and the Abbe Dubois, especially in the context of the disabilities of the- lower castes and women. Ward criticised the institution of caste as one of the greatest scourges of Indian society dooming nine-tenths of the people even before birth to a state of mental and bodily degradation, in which they are forever shut out from all the learning and honours of the country. Both Ward and Dubois deplored the domestic degradation and servitude of women, and their exclusion from learning.

Third, from at least the second half of the 19th century, the British administration began to show concern about various forms of exclusion in Indian society. This was mainly in the context of Brahmin dominance, and alienation of Muslims, and social isolation and backwardness of the lower castes and tribals. The debate and the decisions which followed are evident from its educational and employment policies characterised by patronage politics, concessions, and communal counterpoises and representation.

Fourth, the Constituent Assembly debates recognised the persisting evil effect of past discrimination, and the glaring social divisions based on caste, religion, and other social factors, and the need for overcoming them through special provisions for -minorities”, ‘protective safeguards’ for the historically exploited, excluded and disabled groups “affirmative action”, and so on.

Since the 1950s social exclusion in India has assumed a wider connotation and discourse on it has assumed greater significance in political rhetoric, and among academics, and more recently in the writings on women, Dalits and other deprived groups.

But in India’s development efforts, there has been no coherent arid comprehensive notion of social exclusion, no consistent and serious discourse on it, and no integrated approach to combat exclusion, though social categories such as weaker sections, women ethnic and minority groups, backward classes. Scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes; and issues such as civil rights, poverty, untouchability, inequality and basic needs, all related to exclusion in some way, figure prominently in political rhetoric and policy documents.

It is, however, important to note that exclusion discourse, whether academic or political, has gained a new meaning and momentum since 1990 with the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh’s decision to implement the Mandel report. The discourse now covers a wide range including emancipatory politics, national justice, and empowerment of women, backward classes and Dalits.

Having discussed some of the important issues relating to social exclusion, and exclusion discourse, one might ask why one should study exclusion? There can be at least three responses to this: one, to understand power relations, and power and domination as in Weberian closure theory. Two, to use it, like the backward classes as a window through which one may view societal processes and political cultures. Three, to help combat exclusion through social policies.

As the inversion of exclusion is ‘Integration”, and the process of attaining it, “insertion’, implicit in the exclusion discourse is the exclusion approach. Its value and relevance for policy analysis in Europe is recognised to be descriptive, analytical, and normative. But, as the nature and processes of exclusion in Europe and India have not been the same, India’s approach ought to be different. As exclusion is embedded in the way society functions, the approach calls for understanding the role of societal processes and institutional structures in creating marginalisation, deprivation and exclusion.

As mentioned earlier, in Europe exclusion is seen mainly as problems thrown up by economic restructuring and social transformations, and the focus of the social policy to combat exclusion is on social rights, within the framework of a welfare State. In contrast, in India, exclusion is mostly historically accumulated and not problems thrown up by economic restructuring, though lopsided development efforts have certainly aggravated some of the persisting effects of past discrimination.

Since the notions of citizenship, social civil and political rights are new to India, and markets (whether labour, commodity, or whatever else) are not well developed, and India has hardly anything like a welfare system or safety net, the exclusion approach in India ought to focus on these issues.

Exclusion operates at the level of individual, group, institution, locality, region, nation, and so on. It is both cultural and material, and is hierarchical in terms of need and intensity. So there is need for a disaggregated approach in understanding the patterns and processes of exclusion and the nature of the excluded, taking into account historical and contemporary disabilities, and problems of lack of integration of particular groups, ethnic, communal, Dalits and backward; and on different regions. Inadequate social and economic infrastructure of areas which nave insufficient resources for participation in the mainstream of development is at the root of various sub-national movements” such as the Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and Bodoland.

The exclusion approach should have greater transparency in the Indian context, as governmental and intergovernmental institutions are notorious for rampant corruption, and lack of accountability. People respond to social exclusion in various ways which range from passivity to group action. In the Indian context, because of the long history of fatalism, a feature of the caste system, more often than not is that the excluded themselves are not aware of their exclusion, and even if they are aware they do not act. So there is a need for conscientisation, mobilisation, and group action.

Disadvantages arising out of exclusion in India are of multiple form economic, educational, social, political, cultural, all are deeply rooted in traditional society. So, an approach merely confined to the easily identifiable and statistically manipulable basis needs will be mere tokenism, superficial, touching only the tip of the iceberg.

To conclude, as the purpose of combating exclusion is to bring about social integration, and integration is a value loaded term, in the context of continuing caste, communal, ideological and political conflicts, and widely varying versions of integration such as of the secularities and of the communalists, one ought to ask integration of whom, with whom, how, and why.


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