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Career Guidance for Scheduled Castes and Muslims in India. Challenges and Prospects for addressing Social Exclusion. Anita Ratnam , IAEVG International Careers Conferenece 2011. Contents. Part 1: Why talk about Dalits and Muslims Part 2: Exclusion: Nuances & Implications

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career guidance for scheduled castes and muslims in india

Career Guidance for Scheduled Castes and Muslims in India

Challenges and Prospects for addressing Social Exclusion

Anita Ratnam, IAEVG International Careers Conferenece 2011


Part 1: Why talk about Dalits and Muslims

Part 2: Exclusion: Nuances & Implications

Part 3: Ways Forward for CG

why talk about dalits muslims
Why talk about Dalits & Muslims?

The Caste System

  • Scheduled Castes / Dalits 17% of population, 168 million
  • Varna and Caste System- Origins & Religious sanction
  • The purity principle and graded inequality
  • Untouchables : outside the system,
  • Occupations and caste
  • Colonial Rule and Enumeration
  • 1232 Scheduled Castes GOI Act
  • Dalit / Harijan
  • Constitution & Society Dichotomy
  • Denied education till missionaries and reformers in 1850s, Ambedkar
  • Live outside the main villages even today
  • Doing menial manual jobs-scavenging, tanning, farm labour, construction- work is critical but undervalued,
  • Untouchability & Atrocities continue ,25000 cases every year
exclusion of indian dalit from meaningful careers
Exclusion of Indian dalit from meaningful careers
  • 50% under the poverty line Vs 34 % of Indians ..,,
  • 86 % of dalis are landless & 50% of dalits are agricultural labourersVs 20% of All Indians are AL
  • Less than 10% of dalit households have access to safe drinking water& sanitation
  • Dropout rate of Dalit children from primary schools 44.27% (UNICEF 2006);
  • Dalit Literacy 5 4.7 % All Indians 64% ( Census.2001)
  • 2.2 % of dalits are college graduates, Professional Education*
  • Among 800 accredited journalists, none from dalits.;No actor and actress in Bollywood (Film Industry). 
  • No dalit In top 1000 industrialists, No dalit CEOs 
  • 2 dalit Judges in Supreme Court Since 1947. 
  • Living with other castes & collective action led to emergence of SC middle class
  • Inter caste Marriage…a issue in Indian Society
  • Suicides in Higher Educational Institutions: Death Of merit


exclusion of indian muslims from meaningful careers
Exclusion of Indian Muslims from meaningful Careers

Muslims138 million, 13.4% of population

Islam in India, trade and the first mosque in 629 AD

Mughal Rule established by Babar in 1526 and continued till Colonial Rule

1947 Partition, Violent Exodus

Ghettos and Enclaves post independence

Secular State & Hindu Nation

From Outsiders to Anti Nationals to Terrorists- Myth and Popular Discourse

Caste within Muslims: Ashraf's, Ajlafs and Arzals( Dalit Muslims)

why talk about muslims
Why talk about Muslims
  • Institutionalized Discrimination not addressed- no reservations; instead there is a..myth of appeasement
  • Kashmir and Pakistan wars- have led to notion of Muslims as “enemy”
  • Madrasas and Govt urdu schools lag behind , English third language a hindrance in the job market
  • Rise of Hindu Fundamentalism & Violence against Muslims: Ayodhya- Gujarat Genocide ; Persistence Communal riots, Muslims live in Fear….. of being killed, raped, imprisoned, ridiculed.. Boycotted
  • Muslim Religious fundamentalism and moral policing deny them human rights in the name of being good Muslim
  • Technology & big business; displacement of Muslim traditional occupations
  • Helplessness to change their image in society & media stereotyping;
  • Corporate world equated with western culture,

Part 1: Why talk about Dalits and Muslims

Part 2: Exclusion: Nuances & Implications

Part 3: Ways Forward for CG


Blame it on them….Muslims are fanatics, Dalits are dumb and dirty… they are the moral underclass…. deserve to be where they are..

Understanding Exclusion- Nuances & Implications…

  • What is Exclusion, really ?( PrakashLoius), How do we even begin to understand the excluded ?
  • Understanding relationships between individual, community and identity
  • Understanding linkages between social group position and aspiration; socially disadvantaged groups have “lower” aspirations… or “different” aspirations
  • Aptitudes , Affinities & Interests as culturally constructed,
  • Perception of abilities: Self efficacy beliefs in the face of Islamophobia and Casteism
  • Resources: Linkages between Knowledge-skills-mindsets/social location..
  • Beliefs, World views and Imaginations: Indian belief in destiny and caste.. , Male youth in an imagined world ;( Jónsson,2008)
  • Opportunities: Embedding of inequalities, institutionaizled discrimination, Glass ceilings, Mobility and transport issues (Cass, Shove & Urry) … Differential advantage, Unequal childhoods ( Lareau,2003)
  • Behaviour: Leong (2002) suggested that behaviour is an interaction between a person, the environment, the person’s culture, and the primary (or dominant) culture in the person’s environment…..

A Dalit youth who had passed electrical engineering with distinction, was forced to work in a factory for Rs. 2000 a month. His fellow worker was earning the same salary and doing the same work without even finishing his schooling. The first question he was during various interview, “What is your caste?”

Martin Mc Wan , Dalit Shakthi Kendra

exclusion nuances implications
Exclusion Nuances & Implications

Imranas Story

When Imrana was raped by a relative, the religious leaders instead she leave her husband, children and work and marry the rapist.. Or face boycott from her community,,

Imranas predicament is a tragic example of how young women are caught between longing for community and identity & their basic human rights and desires…

  • My very first reaction to the Bomb blasts in Delhi was: Will it be Indian Mujahideen (IM) once again?. I felt like crying and shouting from the rooftop that whatever the terrorists have done in the name of Islam was wrong; that I am an Indian, who also happens to be a Muslim. I would not rejoice at the bleeding of my very own countrymen.
  • Then, exactly six days later I was awakened by the phone. My colleagues were asking: Are you okay? There's an encounter going on in your area. …I was so embarrassed, uncomfortable, conscious of a strange guilt, defensive and uneasy….Then came the psychological bomb -- one of the “terrorists” caught following the police encounter was my namesake.. Saif Khalid (
undesrtanding exclusion nuances and implications
Undesrtanding Exclusion- nuances and implications

How Inclusion Boomerangs

Anti reservation movements“ youth for equality” group of upper caste youth

Reservation in the Private Sector: Corporate Social Resistance ( CSR!!)

Reservation within reservation.. ( Madigas /holya caste within caste)

Violent attacks on the successful- gujarat/, coimbatore/,Mangalore/, Badanavalu

Suicides- despair or protest

Laws /policies/programmesVsdeeprooted ideologies and cultures of inequality

How Technology Backfires

Traditional occupations gain respect through new nomenclature/ packaging ( uniforms!) …., but leave out the original “experts”..

Removal of stigma and occupational mobility across castes/religions is a welcome change…

But dangers of new exclusions when technology and capital are out of reach ( Gowda,2011)

Technology and De-skilling of society…

Technology and Work- where is technology needed and where is it deployed?

understanding exclusion nuances and implications in a globalising world
Understanding Exclusion- nuances and implications…in a globalising world
  • Displaced and Redundant Masculinities in the Post Industrial Working Class( Mc Dowell)
  • Or is it deeper …..Redundant Humanity? How do the young negotiate Skill vs Passion, Security Vs risk, Obligation Vs Autonomy.? ( Morgan,2008) Who is John without his passion?…
  • Cooption or Accommodation? Numbers…….. Or texture…..
  • Even if integration is possible… is it the answer to exclusion? What do we learn from the failed romance with multiculturalism?.
  • What do we learn from Indias attempts at Secularism? The case of St Jopsehs college… real inclusion means changing the rules of the game, changing the game itself….

Work is culturally coded ..Disjuncts between material conditions & cultural codes (Cohen 2006)

Discord between parental models and todays world of work, Parents culture and youth culture creates questionsand parent culture dominates the way work is understood (Nayak 2006)

Do all cultures /communities accept the ‘calculative attitude’ for career building? (Connell, 2000)

Rootlessnessand occupational mobility as postmodern workers expected to constantly re-invent themselves.. The myth of Flexibility (Morgan)

Difficulties of Dalits in Business (Jodhka,2010)

replication of inequality and injustice
Replication of inequality and injustice

Does it have to be that way?


Part 1: Why talk about Dalits and Muslims

Part 2: Exclusion: Nuances & Implications

Part 3: Ways Forward for CG

ways forward recognising challenges in addressing social exclusion
Ways forward: Recognising Challenges in addressing social exclusion

Can CG Break the cycle of exclusion?

The State of Career Guidance in India todayFrom CET counseling! To NREGA

CG often combined with Scholarships for meritorious poor!

CG guided by a notion of development equated with growth in GDP through industrialisation, modern technology, capitalism, accumulation and global financial flows

The need to liberate “work” from “employment” to encompass multiple modes of surviving , of contributing to others needs is ignored

Development as culture, as civilisation, as happiness, as pluralism, harmony with nature, human compassion are rarely evoked in CG practice…..

By these standards Gujarat (where manual scavenging by Dalits still exists and genocides of Muslims goes unpunished; where dams displaced more than 2 million people) is one of the most “developed “ states in India.

Can we really afford to have CG that rests on such a violent and narrow definition of development?

ways forward for cg grounding guidance counselling in a critical analysis of state and society
Ways forward for CG: Grounding Guidance & Counselling in a critical analysis of state and society

You cant go to school any more, child, we simply cannot afford it” says Champas grandmother. Champa is silent. Her eyes pleading. Grandma tries again, “Don’t worry dear, we will make you happy by finding you a good boy’…At this Champa bursts out…”how can I find a good boy if I am not educated?”

What is inclusion: A share of the pie? .. Or a new pie?

ways forward understanding the excluded a nd helping change aspirations
Ways forward:Understanding the excluded and helping Change Aspirations

Is CG, in the “business as usual” mode, really Enough ?

Careers guidance is the engine room of social mobility and social justice.” Dr Deidre Hughes ( ICG). But how do we deal with

The traumatised & terrorised psyche?

The colonised mind? Remember Fanon?

Pride and shame in ones community and culture?

Youth Suicides. As Despair and as Protest?

Dalit/Islamic fundamentalism?

Young People flirting with terror and crime?

Grappling with distrust, hate and prejudice?

Sensitising the privileged to the rights of the excluded?

Building new visions for self and society?

some inspiring examples
Some inspiring examples

Theoretical Frameworks that can Guide us

  • Understanding Exclusion & its psycho social impacts ( Prakash Louis,2007)
  • Re-defining goals of CG to include changing and raising aspirations ( Watts,2001)
  • Legitimisingknowledges, skills, and economies of the excluded- (Bryan Hiebert,2005)
  • Recognising Aspirations as shaped by material resources and not merely psychological dispositions (Jencks, Crouse and Mueser, 1983)
  • Adopting Cultural Preparedness Approach ( Arulmani, G. 2009)
  • Seeing Hybrid identities ( Tabassum Khan,2009)
  • Harnessing Resilience and wisdom, cultural advantages
  • Developing Vocational Indigenous Psychology ( Leong 2011)
  • Recognisingthe need to expand the scope of guidance to policy advocacy and mentoring/counselling
  • Understanding “determinants of aspirations” ( Gutman & Ackerman 2008)
  • Understanding excluded groups, and tendencies for overachievement and underperformance ( Mao & Tienda 1998).
  • Usingcritical pedagogy that includes interactive approaches, active and reflective practice & using art /creative ways to reach the inner minds (Altman & De 2010)
  • Addressing Institutional, Dispositional and Situational Barriers Clayton 1999)

The dalitstudents guidanceportal : combines information, advocacy, rights, support and mentoring to address the “inner mind”

The AzamCampus in Pune : innovative culturally sensitive and critical pedagogies


Samvada approach to inclusive and sustainable devlopment

Promotion of youth work

Developing Youth Studies

Training Youth Workers

Vibrant civil society

samvada cg pedagogy and process
Samvada CG Pedagogy and Process

CG not a stand alone process, but an integral part of comprehensive youth work

Not based on initially expressed interests or aspirations as they are culturally and economically “programmed”

Providing space to re-think self & Society and then re-define dreams, aspirations and examine fears/ aptitudes

Introduce Career& Livelihood Planning modules only in Step 3

Helping understand politics embedded in work choices, career journeys and workplace issues

Mentoring, helping access scholarships and coaching.

(Ratnam and Issac, Samvada 2011)

Step 1:Reflections on self and society, examination of values & beliefs, aspirations & motivations,

Step 2 :Analysis of social structure and impact of socialisation on relationships, work choices, lifestyles and political affiliations

Step 3: Understanding and Committing to Personal & Societal Change