March 06, 2008

Overcoming Caste

An article on dalit oppression in India from the Washington Post, via Going for Refuge.

Not so long ago, in the back of a tin-roofed restaurant, Ramu, a teenage dishwasher, spent his nights chained to a radiator. That's how his employer kept him from running away.

Ramu wanted to flee because his boss, who was from a higher, more privileged caste, constantly berated him for showing an interest in learning to read. The boss believed Ramu had to get used to a life of cleaning up after other people because as a Dalit, a member of India's lowest and most shunned caste, he could never amount to anything.

Then a foreigner who ran a private school and home for Dalit children noticed Ramu. He enrolled him in classes. Ramu is now a star pupil with a voracious and ever-changing appetite for activities including yoga, photography and film directing.

"In my childhood, I was so desperate for learning," said Ramu, a gregarious 19-year-old with thick brown hair. "There are so many jobs other than dishwashing that I hoped to experience."

It's a tragedy -- and India's shame -- that the caste system remains alive and well.

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humanist's picture

Most of these victims are Buddhists in India-
Mostly Dalits follow Buddhism in India.

Every hour in India, two Dalits (untouchables of South Asia) are brutally assaulted. Every day, three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are burned.
37% of Dalits live below the poverty line in India.
More than half (54%) of Dalit children are undernourished in India.
85 per 1,000 children born in Dalit communities die before their first birthday.
45% of Dalits do not know how to read or write in India.
Dalit women bear double discrimination (gender and caste) in India.
About one-third of Dalit households do not have basic facilities, such as toilets.
90% of the villages do not have burial ground for the dead.
There are more children forced into labor in India than throughout the whole world put together.
Human trafficking and prostitution of poor people are rampant
(Source: Ministry of Welfare of the Government of India )
And actual figure goes beyond this. ...
Thank you for putting this story by Emily Wax