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Who are they??
Rat-eaters – 21st century Indians??
Experiencing the pit of poverty and epitome of discrimination are the lowest rung of the Dalits in Bihar. Musahars and Bhuiyas, known as the ‘rat-eaters’ are among the most discriminated and under-privileged sections of Schedule Caste population of the state. It has been reported that the men-folk of the community survive on their skills of locating grains in rat-holes. Relegated to ghettos known as the Musaharis, worst form of discrimination is known to be practiced against them. Being lowest in the social hierarchy, sociologists concur that even the intermediate caste (politically powerful ‘other backward classes’) have replaced others in carrying forward the discrimination.
There have been few NGO driven programmes for bringing literacy and health-care to the doorsteps of Musahars, but till the time the regime of social discrimination is not reversed, the light at the end of the tunnel would remain dim for them. Seeming to have woken up to the grim reality, Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar in a recent announcement stated that these groupings would henceforth be known as Mahadalits. But how far this brand new nomenclature would change actual ground equations for them remains unanswered.
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