VILLUPURAM: “We used to fake our addresses in the resume because we won’t be given any job as we come from GRP Street. The employers think youth from our area are criminals or not qualified for the job regardless of the educational qualification. We are stigmatised over the place we live in, which is in no way our fault,” rages Selvakumar* (22) who is a BSc in Computer Science.
GRP Street in Villupuram houses around 3,000 Dalit families. Over 90 per cent of people in GRP Street are labourers at the municipality and private firms, said sources. Over 100 youth in the area hold degrees in arts, business management and other subjects, but they are left jobless because they lack opportunities. Women here are predominantly called for daily-wage jobs and household labour work, despite their degrees.
Sumathi, 35-year-old who sells snacks along the street told The New Indian Express, “A private bank rejected my loan application stating that people from GRP Street won’t repay interest properly. How can we ever stabilise our economic position if all sources of income show caste prejudice against us?”S Suman, an assistant director from GRP Street told Express, “Youth like us graduate with many hopes of getting a job. In a State like ours, we are still struggling to prove ourselves against the caste prejudices of society. "
Dalit activist Pandiyan from Madurai, said that misery is intentionally enclosed around Dalit communities. “A Dalit is refused job if he/she comes from a particular colony and is hired for temporary undignified jobs instead. They are not paid regularly because in most cases the contractors take a lump sum of money as commission. This is keeping Dalits away from development.”
Express contacted the private bank officials regarding the refusal of loans to people from GRP Street, to which the bank refused a reply. However, a staff from the bank, told Express, “It is quite problematic to avail them a loan because, they sometimes violently behave with our employees when they go there (GRP Street) for collecting interest rates. So we try to avoid any mess, which is why we deny the loans.”
Meanwhile, owners of medical shops, photocopying and mobile recharge centres seem to have a different view on employing youth from the colony.
M Murugesan (47), who has a chain of four mobile service centres, said, “The youth from any colony is welcome as long as they are able to provide service. I have four boys working for me for the past three years and they had been my trusted fellows.”
However, K Selvakumar (55), owner of a domestic hardware shop said, “Regular customers are not comfortable with people from the colony working in my shop, so I don’t employ them.”
A member of the administration of a private small-scale software company said, “Previously a few who worked here scooted after taking one month’s salary and never returned our calls. However,now we have hired one person from the colony but it’s only been a few days and I can’t judge him already.”
(* name changed)