Dalits in India – BBC has it wrong
This evening, the 14th of October 2006, I heard on BBC World that Dalits are converting to Buddhism and Christianity en masse because Dalits in India can only become labourers. What a sweeping statement!
I didn’t know this, although I live in India and am an Indian. True, we have a traditional caste system that is born out of occupations, but today this sort of suppression is unheard of. Dalits are not forced to become labourers or anything else.
If any Dalits are laborers today, it’s for the same reason that people from other castes are labourers. Because they are uneducated. In fact Dalits today can and have opened businesses, entered politics and are becoming training to be doctors and engineers. Even in rural areas. They are becoming prosperous and rich. And good for them.
So what in the world is BBC talking about?
Perhaps the channel wants to say that Dalits are socially looked down upon and in that case they are right. Only Indian intellectuals do not look down upon Dalits. The caste system exists in rural and semi-urban India. But even in the UK I am sure accents matter and tell you where people come from. So it is the case with Dalits.
In some rural areas Dalits are socially ostracized, are prevented from entering temples and drawing water etc. Plus atrocities happen against them. Women are raped, people murdered.
If Dalits want to convert to Buddhism or Christianity for this reason – I say great! I am with them. But not is because they can only become labourers because that’s a lie!
Related Reading: Has caste-based affirmative action worked?