Patna, May 3 - Caste and religious prejudices in Bihar's villages are affecting the central government's education and health schemes - such as anganwadis - for impoverished families, says a report by the Institute of Human Development.
The report, a copy of which is available with IANS, cites cases where upper caste children were not allowed to go to anganwadi centres in Dalit or lower caste hamlets and vice versa. Anganwadis are government sponsored child and mother care centres at the grassroots.
Also, anganwadi centres in Muslim hamlets see no children from upper caste and Dalit families, says the report.
Anganwadi centres are part of the Ministry of Women and Child Development's flagship Integrated Child Development Scheme.
The deeply-ingrained biases are depriving hundreds of children from education, mid-day meals and vaccination, says the report.
The report was prepared after an on-the-spot survey of 14 villages of nine districts in Bihar by a team of researchers from the New Delhi-based institute.
The report says in Amrahi village of Rajpur block in Rohtas district, upper caste children did not go to the anganwadi centre in a lower caste hamlet. This led to many children not getting vaccinated against serious diseases.
Vaccination could not take place either in the Dalit Paswan hamlets or the Brahmin hamlets because the Brahmins refused send their children to Paswan hamlets nor allow Paswan children into their area, says the report.
In Madhubani district's Mahisan village, children from backward caste Yadav and extremely backward castes Kahtve and Musahar did not attend anganwadi centres in a Muslim hamlet.
Similarly, in Jitwarpur in Araria district, tribal Santhal children did not attend centres in a Brahmin hamlet since only the Brahmin were given food there, the report says.
In Dewan Parsa village of Gopalganj district, Paswan children were summoned only when there was an inspection, though the headcount was kept the same throughout the year.
Similarly, the caste of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) also face prejudices in their work. It was found that they received cooperation or no cooperation depending upon their caste.
ASHAs are an integral part of the rural health care system related to deprived sections of society. In Dewan Parsa village, Brahmin women had no inhibitions in admitting that they did not cooperate with ASHAs who were Dalits, says the report.
"In fact, caste is dominant and has destroyed the idea of cohesiveness and common schooling, which was the prime objective," the report says.
It says that the ramifications of practicing strict caste rules from an early age have far-reaching impact on socialisation and such obnoxious caste laws do not lend to community teaching and common school systems despite such huge fund interventions.
The report also mentions the lack of facilities at the anganwadi centres due to rampant corruption.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)