Advertisement

Caste as a Framework to Study Domestic Labour: A Comparative Law Perspective

  • Sameena Dalwai
Chapter

Abstract

I was at a friend’s wedding in Hyderabad. Amidst the food and frolic, sarees and jewelry, I noticed a teenage girl loitering on the periphery of the celebrations. She was neatly dressed, yet looked poor. She was not a child- as she did not run around with other kids. She was not a guest- she did not chat or eat sweets. She was not a family member, nor a servant of the family- she did not seem busy. Who is this girl? I asked. I was told she has come to ‘help’ in the wedding. “It is a tradition in our village that the Golla (Shepherd) community send one person to assist in celebrations in the homes of Reddy landlords. Since no adult was available or could be off work, this girl was sent. She goes to school, to 7th standard.” An archaic caste practice had turned a school going girl into a domestic servant for the weekend. What was this girl’s legal status? She was not labour as she has no labour contract, terms of work, modes of payment. She was hoisted into an alien environment as ‘something that has no name’. It is this obscure location in which caste connects to domestic labour. The ambiguity of status and location makes it impossible to position it within the legal system. This paper will find the connection between caste and domestic labour: not only do they both exist in the sphere of social normativity and are underrepresented in law but also caste normativity, entitlements, labour relations inform and influence the domestic laour situation in India. The theoretical framework will expound on the concept of ‘caste as extraction of labour’, use of free labour as an upper caste entitlement that has continued into the market and urban sphere. The last section will review how this reality gets reflected in law. I shall visit the Indian case law to analyze how law has dealt with domestic labour and compared them with the UK Employment Tribunal Judgement in 2014 that decreed caste as ‘ethnicity’ under the Equality Act 2010.

References

  1. Baxi, U. (1985). Taking suffering seriously: Social action litigation in the Supreme Court of India. Third World Legal Studies, 4, Article 6.Google Scholar
  2. Baxi, P. (2014). Public secrets of law: Rape trials in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bhuvania, A. (2016). Courting the people: Public interest litigation in post-emergency India (South Asia in the Social Sciences), Cambridge.Google Scholar
  4. Chakravarti, U. (2006). Gendering caste: Through a feminist lens. Calcutta: Stree.Google Scholar
  5. Chatterjee, P. (1997). The nationalist resolution of the women’s question. In K. Sangari & S. Vaid (Eds.), Recasting women: Essays in colonial history (pp. 233–253). Delhi: Kali for Women.Google Scholar
  6. Dalwai, S. (2012). Performing caste: The legal ban on dancing in Mumbai bars (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis). Keele University, United Kingdom.Google Scholar
  7. Dalwai, S. (2016). Caste on the UK shore: Lessons from the diaspora. Economic and Political Weekly, 51(4), January 23, 2016.Google Scholar
  8. Dalwai, S. (2018). Caste in legal education: A survey of law schools in Delhi. Asian Journal of Legal Education. NUJS, Calcutta (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  9. Deshpande, A., & Newman, K. (2007). Where the path leads: The role of caste in post-university employment expectations. Economic and Political Weekly, 42(41), 4133–4140, October 13–19.Google Scholar
  10. Deshpande, G. P. (Ed.). (2002). Selected writings of Jotirao Phule. New Delhi: LeftWord Books.Google Scholar
  11. Deshpande, S. (2006). Exclusive inequalities, merit, caste and discrimination in Indian higher education today. Economic and Political Weekly, June 17.Google Scholar
  12. Harris, B. (2015). Dalit capital: State, markets and civil society in urban India (Forward to A. Prakash). India: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Illiah, K. (1996). Productive labour, consciousness and history: The Dalitbahujan alternative. In S. Amin & D. Chakravarty (Eds.), Subaltern studies IX, writings on South Asian history and society (pp. 165–200). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Irudayam, S. J., Mangubhai, J. P., & Lee, J. G. (2014). Dalit women speak out: Caste, class and gender violence in India (Reprint, Zubaan, New Delhim, 2011).Google Scholar
  15. Phule, J. G. (1873). Gulamgiri. Pune: Poona City Press.Google Scholar
  16. Phule, J. G. (1881). Shetkaryaca Asud. Pune: Poona Publishing Press.Google Scholar
  17. Prakash, A. (2015). Dalit capital: State, markets and civil society in urban India. India: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Prasad, A. (2017). The domestic workers struggle. People’s Democracy, XLI(23). Retrieved June 4, 2017, from http://peoplesdemocracy.in/2014/0615_pd/domestic-worker%E2%80%99s-struggle-recognition.
  19. Radhakrishnan, S. (2008, February). Examining the “global” Indian middle class: Gender and culture in the Silicon Valley/Bangalore circuit. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29(1), 7–20,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rajagopal, A. (2001). Thinking about the new Indian middle class: Gender, advertising and politics in an age of globalization. In R. Sunder Rajan (Ed.), Signposts: Gender issues in post-independence India. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Rao, A. (2009). Sexual politics of caste. In The caste question: Dalits and the politics of modern India. London: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Rege, S. (1996). The hegemonic appropriation of sexuality: The case of lavani performers of Maharashtra. In P. Uberoi (Ed.), Social reform, sexuality and the state. New Delhi: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  23. Teltumbade, A. (2007, March 24). Khairlanji and its aftermath: Exploding some myths. Economic and Political Weekly, 42(12).Google Scholar
  24. Thakur, S. (2008). The Agaris of northwest Maharashtra: An ethnographic study (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.Google Scholar
  25. Thorat, S., & Attewell, P. (2007, October 13–19). The legacy of social exclusion: A correspondence study of job discrimination in India. Economic and Political Weekly, 42(41), 4141–4145.Google Scholar
  26. Wankhede, D. (2014, June). Geographies of untouchability and caste discrimination in India. Zero Mile, 1(1).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sameena Dalwai
    • 1
  1. 1.Jindal Global Law SchoolO.P. Jindal Global UniversitySonipatIndia

Personalised recommendations