By Siddharth (c) 2009
The girl above (and the two old women) are members of the so-called “untouchable” community of India. ‘Dalits’ is now the politically correct term. Generations of dalits have been raped, killed, burnt and discriminated against because of the ugly caste system. Of course, caste discrimination is illegal by the law books of India, and over the years, progress has been made. We have had a dalit President (although I might add that in India, the post is only ceremonial), a dalit Chief Justice, a dalit Speaker of the House, and several dalit public figures, including Ambedkar, the Father of the Indian Constitution.
This doesn’t mean that dalits are no longer discriminated against; not by a long shot. But in this case, that of the girl above, the future is bright. She goes to school and is in the 9th grade and manages to score a very good 75% in her exams. She will get to work, being the only child to her liberal parents. She is well informed of the happenings of India and the world even, given she reads newspapers everyday (on the other hand, her parents are illiterate). She also claims that untouchability is something she has never had to face in her life.