The challenge of bridging the gap between the rich and the poor and marginalised sections of society is the most pressing one in present times. Haryana, for decades, has been plagued by societal discrimination towards the lower communities and those living in poverty. Despite having laws banning untouchability and making programmes to combat poverty, the Indian mindset has still not changed. Even though there are schemes providing mandatory employment and subsidised food and healthcare to the under-privileged, the dream of achieving a uniform society is still elusive.
Poverty is defined as a condition where the minimum income required for subsistence is lacking, and the state of well-being is low as compared to the majority of the population. According to studies, though poverty in Haryana declined so to say, from 25.07% in 1993-94 to 8.74% in 1999-2000, this percentage is also an indicator that Haryana still has over 8 lakh families living below the poverty line. Most of them reside in the rural areas of Haryana. The ongoing schemes to alleviate poverty can only help by bringing transparency and accountability of distribution in the system. Participation by local agencies is another good way to ensure reaching out to the lowest strata of society.
The marginalised class of the society mainly comprises the Dalits or untouchables, as per the ancient caste traditions of India. They are not respected in the society, and are prevented from interacting and mixing with people of the upper castes. In the present times, even though the basis for the caste divisions is irrelevant, children and adults are socially pushed away if they were born in a Dalit family. There have been incidents of students from Dalit families being mistreated and being fed only after kids from upper caste families have had their meals. Their participation in any activity is also discouraged. Such kids eventually stop going to school. To combat such situations, students belonging to lower castes and scheduled tribes and castes are given reservations in schools and colleges to encourage enrollment. These marginalised society members should also be given a platform to voice out their concerns and suggestions for empowering their community and eradicating the caste system.
Apart from the Dalits, Haryana's other marginalised section is the women. They are considered the lowest strata in a family. They are neither included in family decisions, nor given any rights to property. There are families who discourage girls from going to school or pursuing higher education. Dowries are another stigma still prevalent in Haryana. Moreover, incidents of brutalities against women have increased in the recent past. It is no wonder that female infanticide is so common in the state. Their status in Haryana, thus, is a challenge that needs immediate attention. Laws empowering women, subsidies to families having one or more girl children, and rights to education, career and proper healthcare can help in realising a better position for women in the state.
The dream of a prosperous Naya Haryana with every citizen living in peace, health, and happiness can only be achieved when the stigma of being poor or marginalised does not loom over any family. Bridging the gap between all these disadvantaged sections is the best way forward for a beautiful Naya Haryana.