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Musahar neighbours of Ranno Banwasi in their village...Ranno Banwasi, age 24, is from the low caste Musahar community. She lives in a hamlet of Musahar people beside Mehndiganj village. She works as a day-wage farm labourer earning 5kg of grain a day. Employment is not guaranteed and there are many days when Banwasi is not able to find work. Like all Musahar, Banwasi is acutely aware of her low status within rural India's heavily stratified caste system. As a result, her yearning in life is to be "like other people". The Musahar community are one of India's most impoverished and marginalised groups. They are considered untouchable within the heavily stratified Hindu caste system. Most Musahar people reside in rural districts of Nepal and India's Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar states where they are the victims of ingrained local prejudice and administrative indifference. Literacy levels in the community are as low as 2 percent and child malnutrition is common. The Musahar are poorly represented in both district-level government and the local administration. They suffer from low-self esteem and alcohol abuse is particularly common among men. An ongoing campaign for land-rights has provided an independent source of income for some but most Musahars continue to work as day-wage labourers for high caste land owners. Other campaigns have delivered successes in, for instance, the right to subsidised rations. But many of these victories are isolated and demonstrate the difficulties faced by Musahar people in raising a united voice against their suffering. The dominance of high caste groups at the panchayat (or village council) level of government rests on the continued oppression of low caste communities and prevailing powers continue to suppress the Musahar's social, political and economic rights...Photo: Tom Pietrasik.Varanasi, India.March 5th 2008..THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS THE COPYRIGHT OF TOM PIETRASIK. THE PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM OTHER THAN THAT
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Tom Pietrasik
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Musahar neighbours of Ranno Banwasi in their village...Ranno Banwasi, age 24, is from the low caste Musahar community. She lives in a hamlet of Musahar people beside Mehndiganj village. She works as a day-wage farm labourer earning 5kg of grain a day. Employment is not guaranteed and there are many days when Banwasi is not able to find work. Like all Musahar, Banwasi is acutely aware of her low status within rural India's heavily stratified caste system. As a result, her yearning in life is to be "like other people". The Musahar community are one of India's most impoverished and marginalised groups. They are considered untouchable within the heavily stratified Hindu caste system. Most Musahar people reside in rural districts of Nepal and India's Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar states where they are the victims of ingrained local prejudice and administrative indifference. Literacy levels in the community are as low as 2 percent and child malnutrition is common. The Musahar are poorly represented in both district-level government and the local administration. They suffer from low-self esteem and alcohol abuse is particularly common among men. An ongoing campaign for land-rights has provided an independent source of income for some but most Musahars continue to work as day-wage labourers for high caste land owners. Other campaigns have delivered successes in, for instance, the right to subsidised rations. But many of these victories are isolated and demonstrate the difficulties faced by Musahar people in raising a united voice against their suffering. The dominance of high caste groups at the panchayat (or village council) level of government rests on the continued oppression of low caste communities and prevailing powers continue to suppress the Musahar's social, political and economic rights...Photo: Tom Pietrasik.Varanasi, India.March 5th 2008..THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS THE COPYRIGHT OF TOM PIETRASIK. THE PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM OTHER THAN THAT