by David Phinney
Friday April 19th 2024



Cracking India’s Caste System

Simply because of birth, they are considered “untouchables.”
Known as Dalits, they have been India’s low-ranking outcasts for 3,000 years. It is a rigid caste system where the wealthier — even the middle class — are trained to believe they are smarter and more entitled to better lives than the 70 percent of Indians who are born with less.
But The Washington Post reports in a laudable story by Emily Wax that some do gooders are working hard to shatter that habitual social order that segregates the poorest of Indians from their country’s improving economy.

While the caste system is outlawed by the constitution, low-caste Indians still experience severe discrimination. Dalits are regarded as so low that they are not even part of the system. To this day, they are not allowed to enter many Hindu temples or to drink water from sources used by higher castes.

Wax explores new efforts by companies to provide Dalits and other oppressed Indians with new employment opportunities, including Bharti Enterprises and Infosys. She also notes that many U.S. companies working in India “are not fully aware of the caste system and its complex legacy of discrimination.”

An estimated 86 percent of technology workers at multinationals and large Indian outsourcing firms come from upper castes or wealthy middle castes, according to a study released in August 2006 by the government and activist groups.

US Congress has taken notice.

Last month passed a resolution calling for the United States to work with India to address the problem of untouchability by “encouraging U.S. businesses and other U.S. organizations working in India to take every possible measure to ensure Dalits are included and are not discriminated against in their programming.”

Interestingly, the story also reports that the vast majority of Indians living in the United States and Britain come from upper castes, partly because they have better access to work and education visas and can afford expensive plane tickets. They also attend private schools where education is far superior to India’s public education.
(In the United States, that means that weatlhy Indians who have benefited most from their homeland’s caste system can benefit from US affirmative action programs, diversity goals and no-bid government contracts even if they are not American citizens.)
Here’s the story: India’s Lower Castes Seek Social Progress In Global Job Market


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2 Responses to “Cracking India’s Caste System

  1. Mariel says:

    I have to say that American studies of the tdnaitioral Hindu caste system is very exaggerated. First, it is illegal now to be practiced (but nonetheless, still followed by some). being paraded naked and getting beaten and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus is MAYBE representative of a small percentage. Every course or anthropological study that has been conducted by a non-indian that I have studied has focused on the dirty, poverty-stricken slums. Yes, it is a shame that some of this nonsense still takes place, but look at the big picture .India as a whole has shown an immense amount of progression, and continues this at a fast pace (and I can say this with fact being a first-hand witness)Love you shok 😉

  2. Suja says:

    Indian Dalits must have a strong lobby!
    After getting the Government of India to reserve nearly 50% of seats in professional colleges and educational institutions … and government jobs, they have succeeded in getting coverage in mainstream western media too!

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