The menace of casteism has been haunting Indian society for decades and even centuries now. A caste-ridden Haryana is ill poised for any form of growth or development. Inter-caste marriages are far from acceptable in Haryana society, where couples daring to defy the rigid dictates of arranged marriages face much opposition and violence. In most cases it is acceptable for a man to marry into a lower caste or wed a Dalit woman but women are not permitted to marry men of the Dalit or other lower castes.
Lack of Acceptance and Awareness
The lack of support and acceptance of inter-caste marriages stem from a lack of social awareness. In these times when women's education and employment are the norm rather than the exception, it is essential that practices such as segregation of the sexes be discontinued. To implement this, the state government needs to involve workers at the grassroots level. Establishment of co-educational schools, creating higher education opportunities for the girl child, and support for women in becoming self-reliant are all currently absent. Inter-caste couples seeking protection and aid are routinely ignored and even harassed by government agencies and even by the police. This testifies to the level of backwardness, ignorance, and orthodoxy in our society the greatest threat to growth and development.
The need of the hour is to create a progressive social outlook which shall be the backbone of Haryana's growth. The solution to the problem is to create goodwill program that involves educating representatives from the upper classes and the Dalits and commissioning them to spread awareness in rural regions about mutual intermingling and the freedom of women. Much of this is currently absent. The current administration is of the view that the families that allow young men and women to intermingle are at fault taking another step back in the history of human progress.
The very nature of a woman's freedom and dignity is at stake in a society where only women are prohibited from marrying into a lower caste. Women's empowerment is an essential action that the state administration needs to undertake at the earliest, with the help of the various NGOs that are active in rural Haryana. Upholding the right to inter-caste marriages at a judicial level and providing adequate protection to such couples is mandatory.
No Honour in Honour Killings
Honour killings have been a blot on modern India. The UN reports that almost 20% of the cases of honor killings in the world are fromIndia. Haryana is one of the worst affected states in the country the state has become infamous for the cases of honor killings reported over the past decade. Families and village heads have been known to sanction or decree honor killings when arbitrary rules of inter-caste marriages or inter-caste relationships are violated. The young men and women in our state have been traditionally bound by very rigid rules of caste and gotra. Inter-caste and intra-gotra marriages are often considered sins. But it does not stop here. These marriages invite the moral outrage of the clans, families, and at times even villages. The couple is then ostracized and deemed unfit to live and is brutally murdered.
According to a report, there were about 900 cases of honour killings in Haryana,Punjaband Uttar Pradesh in 2010, while the rest of the country witnessed some 200 more such incidents. In 2013, the matter of honor killings due to inter-caste marriage in Haryana came up in front of the Supreme Court of India but the state administration failed to take adequate measures to tackle the menace.
Naya Haryana, a progressive state with a growth and development agenda can only be built by a cohesive populace not one divided and fragmented by the barriers of caste and gotra. In a nation where people of all castes, religions, creeds and races find dignity, it is a matter of great concern that inter-caste marriages are still subject to social ostracism. Change in policy, legislation, and mindset are the three best tools to make inter-caste marriages acceptable in Haryana society.