CHENNAI: An interesting phenomena has been recorded by S Anandhi, associate professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS). Anandhi is researching about the dynamics of caste among Dalit and upper caste women against the paradigm of development which will be part of a book.
At a seminar on ‘Caste and Development: Towards an Ethnography of Dalit Women’s Activism in Tamil Nadu’, organised by MIDS recently, Anandhi, who had done her case study on a village in Tiruninravur, pointed out how expansion of the labour market for Dalit women moving away from agriculture had changed the dynamics of caste equations.
“Dalit women belonging to Adi Dravidar communities now have better access to opportunities in the expanded labour market. However, same can not be said about the Arunthathiyar community women, who are not yet modernised, as they are still agricultural labourers,” Anandhi said.
She also mentioned that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) had helped women move away from Dalit bondage. However, a caste order was still prevalent among women, when NREGA wages would be distributed. “The upper caste women would be the first to get the wages and the scheduled castes would get it only after that,” she said.