Situating Hadis’ Occupation and Caste: Exclusionary Journey from Manual Workers to Sanitation Workers in India
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This essay is an outcome of a long ethnographic account of an occupational group that remains low-paid, polluting in nature, and historically considered menial. In India, various names are used to refer to the people, but they are called Hadi/Hari caste in Bokaro, Jharkhand state. The essay examines the exclusionary process deeply rooted due to the occupational association with sanitation, cleaning of toilets, and all work that is not carried out by other castes and communities. The oral histories of the Hadi community brought in by intensive fieldwork demonstrate how occupational association brings a different level of social status by changing the workplace. In the last two hundred years (somewhat after 1802 A.D.), this community has not found the fruit of change that many other deprived groups could receive in reality; instead, they live in a dilemma to be urban but consistently remain at the margin. Further, there has not been a single study locating Hadis as one of the most marginalized and discriminated caste groups and they are never addressed in the policy framework except a few1 on the same caste groups of Chas town2 in Jharkhand. The services of Hadis played a pivotal role in the life of the new township in the sixties. Nevertheless, where and how they survived over a few decades is examined in India this research. Sociologically, communities and occupational groups like Hadis find an apt example of discrimination and exclusion even in twenty-first century India.
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