Caste and Gender in India Essay

Pages: 3 (1175 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

¶ … hijras & Dalits and explain their marginalization

Here, you need to explain to the reader why these two groups are marginalized. Particular ideas of sexuality, gender, and caste are used to justify their continued marginalization and ostracization. Why is it that hijras and Dalits are feared? Why are they segregated from others in Indian society?

The Dalits and hijras have long been marginalized in India. Though they remain marginalized, historical changes and structural factors such as the shift from colonial rule to the formation of the state of India; social movements; and government reservation policies have led to a growing visibility of the discrimination that these two groups face, which have opened up new areas for activism and collaboration.

Both Dalits and hijra are marginalized and stigmatized for different reasons. The Dalits have been historically stigmatized due to their professions. The hijras, on the other hand, have been stigmatized due to gender proclivities. Whilst the Dalits have largely gained acceptance in Indian society since social constructs change, the hijras threaten the conventions of humans who are unable to place them in specific gender roles causing their discrimination to continue.


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Dalits are a variety of castes from all over S. Asia, speaking a variety of languages and practicing a variety of religions. The origin of the name "Dalit" in Sanskrit means "ground," "suppressed," "crushed," or "broken to pieces." In fact, part of the repertoire of names given them include Panchamas ("fifth" varna), and Asprushya ("untouchables").

TOPIC: Essay on Caste and Gender in India Assignment

Dalits received their name due to their menial professions which included leatherwork, butchering, or removal of rubbish, animal carcasses, and waste as well as garbage disposal, clearing the streets, latrines, and sewers. Historically, therefore, Dalits were excluded from Hindu social life which included segregation and their prohibition from entering a temple, or a school and being compelled to say outside the village. Great care too was taken to prevent accidental encounter between Dalits and members of other castes.


The hijras are distinguished due to their being males who have feminine tendencies. This includes dressing in female clothes, assuming feminine gender identity, and adopting peculiar feminine roles and behavior. The hijra history is long dating back to the Kama Sutra period. Many of them live in guru-led small communities for survival (Nanda, 1986).

Born with male physiology, some undergo an initaition called nirwaan which refers to removal of penis, testicles and scrotum. When they have relationships, many do so with 'normal' males, although most of these relationships are perpetrated secretly. Some hijras may even marry, although their marriage is not recognized by law or religion (ibid).

Persecution to hijras has always been intense. Authorities during the British Raj attempted to eradicate hijras seeing them as unnatural and although the law was later repealed, the Act against castration lingered. Hijras were also placed under the British Criminal Tribes Act (1871) which subjected them to monitoring and compulsory registration.

Historical changes and structural factors

While discrimination against Dalits and hijras is not new, tell the reader how historical changes and/or structural factors (i.e. shift to Independence; social movements, government policies, ideas about modernity, forces of globalization) have resulted in changes for these two groups.

Ever since India has gained her independence, overt efforts have been made to better standards for Dalits and make them equal citizens in the Indian system. This is done via the Indian government promoting better health, employment, and education for the Dalit population. The Indian government initially protected them under the title "Scheduled Castes" or "Scheduled tribes" (SC/ST)… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Caste and Gender in India" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Caste and Gender in India.  (2012, May 15).  Retrieved July 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Caste and Gender in India."  15 May 2012.  Web.  28 July 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Caste and Gender in India."  May 15, 2012.  Accessed July 28, 2021.