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Tamil Nadu: Students in govt schools symbolize colourful bands, tattoos as prejudice

A red and blue wristband denotes the suppressed caste or leanings towards a regional Dalit-based political outfit, while a yellow-green one points to Vanniyars or support to a political party known to be backing the community.

Colourful bands and tattoos may be fancy wearables and art forms for many, but for students in several government schools in Tamil Nadu, these symbolise their caste identities and deep-rooted prejudices

Tamil Nadu: Students in govt schools symbolize colourful bands, tattoos as prejudice
[File] Representational image | Wikimedia Commons

Senior officials asked to act against the guilty institutions

Caste based discrimination stems from the perspective of purity and pollution and it is so deeply entrenched across India that people can go at any lengths to make prejudicial distinction on this basis.

In an attempt to crack down on schools where children were made to wear wrist bands of various colours to identify their castes, the Director of School Education has directed senior officials to identify such schools & take action against those responsible for the discrimination. The Hindu Reported

In a recent circular based on a representation by 2018 batch of trainee IAS officers, the Director of School Education said: “All the Chief Educational Officers are requested to take appropriate steps to identify such schools in their district, where such kind of discrimination is practised & to issue suitable instructions to the head masters & prevent such practice immediately & also to take severe action on the persons who are responsible for the discrimination,” the circular stated, which also instructed to send a report containing the action taken in this matter.

A representation given by officers of IAS 2018 said that some schools in Tamil Nadu, the children were made to wear colour coded wrist bands. These wristbands, which come in shades of red, yellow, green & saffron indicate whether they belong to a ‘lower caste’ or ‘upper caste’ in addition to this, rings & forehead tilak on the head were used as caste marker.

At anganwadi level


An IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre from 2018 batch told The Hindu that the issue came up during a discussion in Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie earlier this year & his batch of 180 officers had made the representation.

The officer stated that “We handed over the representation in June this year”.

Madurai-based social activist ‘Evidence’ Kathir, who has been working for the empowerment of Dalits, said these practices continued in various parts of the State.

“The discrimination starts in these schools from anganwadi. In anganwadis of some schools, non-Dalit children are allowed to bring separate vessels from home. Discrimination differs through the years of their education,” he said.

Mr. Kathir said, In some cases, children wear singlets with the portrait of caste leaders, inside their uniforms.

“In Coimbatore district near Pollachi, a teacher called Dalit students as minuses & non-Dalits as pluses.”

Advocating an increase in the number of schools for children from Adi Dravidar community, Mr. Kathir said the Goal 4 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure quality education before 2030.

“This doesn’t mean only infrastructure but a discrimination-free atmosphere for the children,” he added.

These practices supposedly were being used for sports team selection, reassembling during class & lunch intervals.

Allegedly, these practices were enforced by children themselves & supported by influential caste persons & teachers, said the representation from the IAS officers.


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