A new study using mobile phone surveys found that a significant proportion of Dalits and Muslims face some form of discrimination in India, and that’s may be just scratching the surface
New Delhi: How much discrimination do Dalits and Muslims face in their daily lives? A new study by Payal Hathi of the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, and others, uses mobile phone survey data to find that a significant proportion of Dalit and Muslim respondents faced some form of discrimination.
The study published in the latest edition of the Economic and Political Weekly is based on a mobile phone survey of 2,124 Dalits and Muslims across Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Mumbai conducted between 2016 and 2017. Caste discrimination prevails across these regions, the study finds.
In Delhi, more than one-fifth of Dalits reported facing caste discrimination. In Mumbai, 25% of Dalits and 30% Muslims personally experienced discrimination in interactions with a government official. Another common location for discrimination is schools, where reports of discrimination ranged from 10% to 25% across geographies and groups. Worryingly, the authors believe that the true extent of the problem may be even larger. Self-reporting tends to underestimate cases of caste discrimination because respondents may feel uncomfortable in revealing instances of discrimination.
In addition to personal experience of caste discrimination, authors also asked Dalits and Muslims in Rajasthan and Mumbai about their perceptions of discrimination. According to the authors, even perceptions of discrimination can influence psychological well-being, expectations and aspirations. They find that in both Mumbai and Rajasthan, more than 60% of Dalits and Muslims believe their communities face discrimination.
While the authors acknowledge more research is needed to better quantify discrimination, these findings highlight how discrimination continues to blight the very institutions designed to create a fairer society.