Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cast out Caste

I did not invent the slogan Cast out Caste. Just so that's out of the way before we begin.

More than half a century has passed since India became democratic, but it still has a caste system with 240 (or 160 depending on the source) million Dalits, or Untouchables. Officially India is a country of equal rights, but the Dalits face any number of prejudices.

If you are born a Dalit, your daily life is dominated by an awareness of your caste. Dalits do the dirty work, literally, and have menial occupations that they didn't choose, but that often deal with filth and death. There are a number of other hardships in daily life for Dalits, all of which are about Dalits not having equal rights.

As a result of the caste system, on Sunday, there is going to be a massive conversion in Mumbai of Dalits from Hinduism to Buddhism, which doesn't affirm the caste system. We shall see what that does for Dalits in terms of their daily lives.

Resources: Low Caste Indians Set to Convert and National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (where I got the cool Cast out Cast slogan)