ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Untouchability Conditioned Everyday Violence in Indian Village


Kumar Vimal - Tata Institute of Social Sciences, School of Social Work, Mumbai, India


39 – Citizens at Risk: Caste, Violence and State Institutions in India


 The famous phrase “Jiski Lathi Uski Bhais” which means “the one who wields the stick, commands the buffalo” aptly describes the state under study. The proverbial ‘stick’ in Haryana is wielded by the landowning community based on caste hierarchy controlling the state with dominance. The Balmiki/scavenger(ex-Chuhras) community is the most deprived and oppressed based on various socio-economic indicators.  Due to their caste position they face caste-based violence and discrimination in their everyday life. Positioning myself as Balmiki within the lens adopted for this study; untouchability, this study makes an attempt to foreground untouchability conditioned violence in the lived experiences of the Balmiki community. The question of caste violence is very close to my upbringing as born and grown up in Balmiki Ghetto; I grew up in an environment of fear of being identified by my caste. Methodologically, the research draws from a reflective engagement as ‘Lived Research’ though direct fieldwork in seven different phases starting from 2014 to 2019 to engage in different events to study everyday violence. This paper is the part of my PhD research where subject of the study was approached with qualitative questions using engaged observation, in-depth interviews and life stories based on the fieldwork in the village from 2014 to 2019. Adopting a lived epistemological approach, I unraveled the reality of everyday violence in the lived experience of the Balmikis in the Gorakhpur village.