Children in UP Manipulated in to Discriminating Against a Dalit

Who hearts the News tab? I totally do and since I had a few moments, I managed to do what I always intend but never get around to– I checked which story was currently “most interesting” as measured by the “top in 24 hr” link. Eleven of us thought the following tip, which was submitted by Condekedar a few days ago, was important:

Indian children boycott school lunches cooked by ‘Untouchable’

Condekedar wrote this rather attention-getting summary…

A sad reminder of the continued existence of caste-discrimination. This story is even worse, because it’s children who are showing their bigotry, not just prejudiced older people.

Via The Independent:

By her own admission, the lunches cooked by Phool Kumari Rawat may not always be the tastiest food the pupils at her school have ever eaten. And with more than 300 students to cook for, getting the proportions right can be a struggle.
But the children of Bibipur Primary and Junior High School near Lucknow have not launched a boycott of Mrs Rawat’s food because of its taste, but because Mrs Rawat is a Dalit, a so-called Untouchable. As a result, they say, the food is unclean.

A whole new generation, India’s best generation yet with regards to opportunity, learning the worst about others. Condekedar is right; it is extra-disheartening to read about such sentiments from little kids.

Such incidents are not uncommon in India, where caste remains a debilitating and divisive phenomenon, especially for those 75 per cent of people who live in rural communities. But the boycott at Bibipur is especially noteworthy because it is taking place in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the state which this year elected a Dalit woman, Mayawati Kumari, as its chief minister. Campaigners say that despite Mayawati’s poll victory, Dalits still suffer widespread discrimination.

First, they did right by the woman:

When the boycott of the meals began last week, local officials stood by Mrs Rawat, a widow with three children, and tried to persuade the students that there was nothing unhygienic about her food. Officials who inspected her cooking said there were no problems and one even ate the lunch – vegetables and rice – in front of the students to persuade them to end their boycott.

…but they didn’t stay strong:

But The Indian Express newspaper reports that with the children not backing down from the boycott, the authorities are now poised to sack Mrs Rawat.

Two issues are being conflated; the quality of the lunches and the hands which cook them. If it were merely about the former, I don’t think anyone would fault the kids. The revolt might even be framed as a cute rebellion by pigtailed and cow-licked children, standing up for their right to yumminess. But…

Tellingly, children who live in Mrs Rawat’s neighbourhood are still eating the lunches, while those involved in the boycott have reportedly made little effort to hide their reason for refusing to eat. “I will not eat anything cooked by that lady. I have heard my family members say that she is from some low caste. So I bring my own lunch box,” said one pupil, Shivani Singh Chauhan.

So much for Mayawati ushering in a new era?

However, Ram Kumar, of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, said: “There are no equal rights in UP. We have a Dalit chief minister but more than 80 per cent of the bureaucracy are members of the upper caste. There are many villages in UP that are totally dominated by caste and there is not any chance of social equality.”

Oh, the poignant resignation in these words:

Mrs Rawat, who earns the equivalent of just 75p a day, said: “I am a widow with three kids. Earlier, I worked as a labourer. If they remove me from here I will accept it as my fate and will again work as a labourer.”

They removed her.

Fast forward a few days…it looks like she’s not quite ready to accept her fate, just yet:

Phool Kumari Rawat, the Dalit woman at the centre of the mid-day meal controversy in Bibipur Primary and Junior High School, came to Lucknow today and sat on a dharna in front of the Vidhan Sabha.[IndianExpress]

I’ll admit that I had no idea what that meant. For those of you who are also not acquainted with “dharna”:

A fast conducted at the door of an offender, especially a debtor, in India as a means of obtaining compliance with a demand for justice, such as payment of a debt.[Bartleby, but not the scrivener]

And for commenter Amitabh :) and those who love language like he does, from the same non-scrivener link:

ETYMOLOGY: Hindi dharn, from Prakrit dharaa, from Sanskrit dharaam, act of supporting, stay.

Good for her. Go on with your bad self, lady. What a righteous way to protest how she was forced out. Seems necessary, too, considering that predictably, “officials” are refuting her cries of discrimination by saying that she was let go because the village committee which had appointed her was abolished out of concerns regarding corruption, i.e. she’s an indirect victim of something else which has nothing to do with her caste.

In Lucknow, Phool Kumari herself had yet another story to tell. “Controversy began the day I started cooking at the school. When I went there to serve food on December 11, principal V D Dixit told me that his students would not eat meals cooked by a Dalit woman,” said Phool Kumari.
She added: “The children would come to me each day and tell me that I cooked unhygienically, even though all outsiders — officials and members of social organisations — didn’t find anything wrong with the meal.”.[IndianExpress]

Way to keep the best interest of the children in mind there, Dixit.

There were further developments out of Lucknow, today:

The state SC/ST commission has accepted a petition filed by Ambedkar Mahasabha — a social organisation working for the rights of Dalits. The education and administration officials have been called for the first hearing on Thursday and explain the reason behind her removal.

Well, look what pathetic activities some investigating uncovered:

The Mahasabha has alleged that Phool Kumari was removed under pressure from higher castes. It has also asked the commission to punish the concerned officers under ST/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “Our members visited the school and the village and talked to cross section of people. It was found that the teachers belonging to higher castes have instigated the children to oppose Phool Kumari. We have asked that education officers be punished too,” said Bina Maurya, national general secretary of the Mahasabha.
SR Darapuri, vice-president of the district wing of Mahasabha said: “In our petition, we have made it clear that dismissal of cook is not only illegal but if it goes unnoticed, it will encourage untouchability in other schools.”[IndianExpress]

Here’s hoping Phool Kumari and her quondam students get what they each deserve; respect for her, and for them, guidance from progressive adults who are not ass hats.

93 thoughts on “Children in UP Manipulated in to Discriminating Against a Dalit

  1. Indians need to get their priorities straight, we are the O[M]Gs (original money-grubbers) after all.

    This is the thing…there is a TON of potential money to be made in the rural areas…it’s a huge potential market…once its dynamism is unleashed…but the infrastructural bottlenecks are so severe that even risk-loving capitalism hasn’t dared to really venture there…and casteism is one of the bottlenecks. It destroys a lot of social capital.

  2. It occurs to me that maybe this didn’t happen DESPITE Mayawati…maybe it happened BECAUSE of her. Brahmins and Rajputs feel threatened by the recent social and political changes, and in this particular instance, reacted by taking it out on a poor local dalit woman. Maybe this is a symptom of a deeper underlying anxiety on the part of the upper castes.

  3. There are a lot of Indians living abroad, who save money while struggling to end meets (e.g. grad students), but still send money home to India AND donate to charities or volunteer for special cause. There are people I know who are brought up here but volunteer for years in India to work with the underprivileged. And how many Indians residing in India (and who are wealthy) donate ANY time for charity ? I am really genuinely curious.

    I know so many ABDs who volunteer in India and who genuinely feel an affinity to the ‘motherland.’ On the other hand, sometimes I feel that the ‘volunteering in India’ (or anywhere else) is just a resume booster. My parents have friends who have contributed to the development of their ancestral villages in recent years, really simple things too, like a well or a roof for the local school. On the other hand there are ABDs who are pretty ignorant about South Asia and have a very negative view of it and everything associated with it and do as much as possible to distance themselves from it, lest they be associated with it.

    Charity in India happens almost in the opposite way that it does in America. In New York I’ve seen people brush by the homeless guy on the street while wearing pearls and Brooks Brothers suits on their way to a charity ball. In Hyderabad I see people hem and haw when asked to donate money to some NGO, but who will provide food and shelter for a night to a homeless man.

  4. it is indeed interesting how several of you spew venoumous comments. i didnt for a moment say that any of these problems are mundane(that was someone else, spidey i think–don’t confuse me with him) —you simply dont know much about this except one or two things you read here and there. if you pause to think for a moment, you are taking the focus away from the topic to criticising me for i dare to say that i am proud, despite all the things i know are wrong in my country. amitabh–do you realize how condescending you are when you say “you people” have a “valid perspective”? i dont know what life in america is like, i do know that when some of “you people” who are born and raised in america come here, you look down upon the dirt, the crowds, the poverty, the “uncoolness” of it all. you are lucky for you are privileged. fyi–i am so called “lower caste”. for zuni, who asked me whether i donate money to charity –does giving a few rupees to my local leprosy home count? i dont make that much money when you see salaries in india are; that is all i can spare. i am saving all my money to buy a home some day–with real estate prices what they are, i dont think it will ever happen. the truth is –money talks. the rich dalits are doing just fine, they walk into the best government colleges and then government jobs based on the “quota system”. it is only the poor who suffer–the poor brahmins are doing much better either –they have to eke out a living too.
    you and i can talk all we want, you can feel superior to me when you critize me with your knee-jerk responses to the things i say –discrimnation exists in my society (as it probably does in yours) –but it much better than it was 10 years ago–for the “india shining” has given a lot of young people who dont have an education get jobs –salespeople in fancy malls etc etc –and it is only economic development which can effect change.

  5. The midday meal scheme was introduced as an incentive for poor parents to send their kids to school, instead of having them till the fields or whatever.

    Wow, that makes this even worse then, if it’s poor but higher-caste people encouraging children to ostracize this woman. Though it also makes it somewhat more understandable, especially w.r.t. Amitabh’s point about caste anxieties following Mayawati’s election.

  6. Amitabh, I made it already clear as to why i chose to highlight the aspect of post that you feel very uncomfortable about. I won’t bother repeating it. As to providing insights, either you selectively read my comments, or the point(s) i made are not worthy of your consideration. Still work is little slow around here and I had some time.. I believe that we all care about India and do want to see it better, but I have a gripe against aspects of your approach. Anyway, if smintern has his/her way I expect my days commenting here to be numbered, so no more of my ‘India Shining’ sloganeering thankfully for everyone.

    zuni, Are you suggesting that all voluntary work and funding for NGOs in India come from the Indian diaspora, or enlightened indian graduate students in America? And the only way to work for India’s poor and downtrodden is by affiliating oneself to an NGO?

  7. and by the way zuni –some of these NGOs are all talk and no action. any more smugly critical questions?

  8. it is so clear that so many of you are people who are born and raised in america who havent the foggiest what daily life in india is all about –you probably wouldnt be able to enjoy living in india without the creature comforts you enjoy in america , but you feel well qualified to comment endlessly based on a few random newspaper articles and moreover, criticize someone who actually lives all this on a daily basis.

  9. Bengali brahmins of a religious nature are still some of the most orthodox people on the planet when it comes to this sort of thing.

    Every Brahmin group claims that they are the most orthodox and so on. I thought that Hindus and Brahmins, especially, should never eat meat? Bengali Brahmins eat fish quite a bit. How is this orthodox within a Hindu frame of reference?

    South Indian Brahmins also claim to be the most orthodox, the most pure. Of course, Kashmiris are supposed to be pure and untouched by “lesser races”. Please check one of my recent posts regarding the Kashmiri Brahmin’s view of themselves.

  10. 17 JGandhi said

    Fo example, when someone makes offensive remarks about the Ganges I am offended as an Indian and as a Hindu.

    Can you elaborate on what sort of remarks about the Ganges you consider offensive and what in those remarks offends you (as an Indian and an Hindu)?

  11. I do have to say though, there aren’t many wealthy people in India compared to the percentage of extremely wealthy Indians among the diaspora. Unless the Sabeer Bhatias and Vinod Khoslas of the world pull a Gautama on us, I don’t think it is fair to insinuate that Indians-in-India are somehow morally less decent when they are either simply trying to get by/aspiring to a better life, as most people do.

  12. tarta(#57)…Fine, say that then. I’m not being condescending, and you make some good points. This is a complicated and nuanced topic. My only objection was to your dismissing it and thinking of it as India bashing.

  13. you sitting in the US, smugly critising me, arent really the person to lecture me on indian life and society.

    Who was lecturing you? Why take everything so personally? No country is perfect and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s better to bring attention to the imperfections than gloss over them.

    But American desis just can’t win.

    America-based desi: “The caste system in India is terrible.”

    India-based desi: “Hey, who are you to lecture us about the caste system, sitting smugly in the U.S.?”

    America-based desi: “America is too wasteful. Look how much food goes into the trash!”

    White American: “Hey, if you don’t like America, go back to India!”

  14. Tarta: I respect your donation to wherever you give, given the day to day struggles. I know the struggles of Indian day to day life. I have done so before and intend to go back to fight it out. My questions were mainly because I have come across many fellow Indians who say that they are doing something just by living in India, and doing nothing else.

    Spidey: as far as I know, yes, funding for many many NGOs in India come primarily from the Indian diaspora. And no, I don’t mean the only way to work for India’s poor and downtrodden is by affiliating oneself to an NGO. That was part of a question. But just doing nothing doesn’t do anything either.

  15. But American desis just can’t win. America-based desi: “The caste system in India is terrible.” India-based desi: “Hey, who are you to lecture us about the caste system, sitting smugly in the U.S.?” America-based desi: “America is too wasteful. Look how much food goes into the trash!” White American: “Hey, if you don’t like America, go back to India!”

    I’m sorry, but this is weak. Has anyone actually ever told you to go back to India because you made such a statement? There are many white people in the U.S. who also note how much food is wasted, and they may get the same ‘anti-American’ insinuation from such reactionaries, perhaps peppered with, ‘If you don’t like it, why don’t you move to France?’ IMO, the former example is a legitimate criticism, the latter isn’t, and to conflate the two is seriously stretching it.

    I guess my point is, count your blessings.

  16. My questions were mainly because I have come across many fellow Indians who say that they are doing something just by living in India, and doing nothing else.

    They are though. They’re contributing to the Indian economy.

  17. I think everyone needs to chill just a little bit if this thread is meant to stay open. Far too much umbrage, nowhere near enough thoughtful discussion.

  18. A slow news rolls around and Anna and company at SM troll the news for India articles. ABD’s are simply not qualified and don’t have the right to comment on Indian affairs. American sanctimonious preaching is irritating at best, dangerous at worst (see Iraq), and when it comes from American desis it’s both. Mind your own business, please, unless you are willing to live in India and walk in our shoes for 5 years. One would’ve thought your Iraqi experiences would have temporarily curbed your urge to morally police the rest of the world, but apparently not.

    Yes, we in India love our caste system and love getting up in the morning looking for victims to discriminate. And we’ve got nukes to defend our ruthless oppression, so pulling an Iraq here won’t be quite as simple. Deal with it /sarc.

  19. I’m sorry, but this is weak. Has anyone actually ever told you to go back to India because you made such a statement?

    Well, not exactly for criticizing wastefulness, but for criticizing other things. I’ve been told to go back to India several times. (By people responding to my columns in other media/forums.)

  20. Should be “slow news day rolls around”.

    Anna, I think you should post an outraged article about the VHP attacking churches on Xmas. That’d also be a juicy post, bound to get hundreds of comments. Just let’s not let you propagate the idea taht your posting such articles is meant to change things in India. An American sitting in America can have nothing but Iraq-style motivations when posting such articles.

  21. Every Brahmin group claims that they are the most orthodox and so on.

    Except Punjabi brahmins. They admit that 1000 or more years of Muslim (and to some extent Sikh) cultural and numerical dominance of Punjab turned them into little more than fortune-tellers and palm-readers…as well as performers of simple rituals for weddings and so on that they themselves couln’t even understand or explain. Plus the fact that Jatts, not Brahmins, are at the top of the social heap. I think it is telling that Punjab is the only region that doesn’t have its own vernacular (i.e. Punjabi language) versions of the Mahabharat and Ramayan (although the stories themselves remained popular, well-known, and relevant). The Punjabi epics all deal with (nominally) Muslim lovers. However the rather negative influence of the brahmins in terms of keeping brahminical norms and values alive in society remained quite strong. On the positive side, they probably did keep the Hindu community from vanishing completely or being aborbed fully into other folds…which the Kashmiri brahmins could not do in Kashmir.

  22. I am surprised the official is not yet sacked, discrimination against dalits has landed a lot of UP officials in trouble. But this kind of discrimination is not unusual in hinterland. More shocking revelations here.

    http://indiatogether.org/2007/dec/soc-caste.htm

    In some sense the best thing to happen in UP in years was the election of Mayawati as CM. Now at least the official machinery tries to protect the dalits, the civil society has a long way to go though.

  23. Well, not exactly for criticizing wastefulness, but for criticizing other things. I’ve been told to go back to India several times. (By people responding to my columns in other media/forums.)

    That sucks, especially if you were actually born in the U.S. The point I was making, though, is that ‘Go back to India’ is such a ridiculous reactionary racist statement that actually has no grounding, especially if you are American born and bred, but ‘You don’t know what it’s like living in India’ is a legitimate criticism when people are speaking about India, because you (generally speaking) really don’t know what it’s like.

  24. Anna

    I don’t think raising awareness about an issue is pointless

    Awareness is laudable, but frankly, there is a good chance that you might be spreading misinformation — and in a highly charged issue like caste, why not wait until all the facts are clear in this case.

    The facts I have seen so far: 1) There were complaints against Ms. Rawat’s quality of cooking and a boycott of her cooking. 2) Officials tried to palatcate the students, but did not succeed 3) As per the District Magistrate subsequent inquiries found that the quality was substandard. 4) Ms. Rawat had no experience with cooking as a profession prior to this job. 5) Ms. Rawat is a widw who belongs to the SC/ST class 6) On being interviewed some students have said that the quality of food was bad while others statements indicate that the caste 7) Ms Rawat was sacked 8) Ms Rawat will be replaced by a another widow of the same caste.

    This rest are just people pushing one agenda or the other (incidentallym after I noticed that it was 3rd party reporting I read the original articles to note the tone, read the wesites “further reading” and noticed that there was a strong bias in the reprting)

    Based on this we could just as easily say that Ms. Rawats bad cooking led to her being fired and reinforced prejudices against the culinary abilities of SC/STs.

    BTW, I might be reading too much into it, but given that you quoted so much from the article, did you delibrately omit “district magistrate, Chandra Bhanu, said: “We have inquired and found that the poor quality of food is a fact. So we will try to concentrate on that issue and find a person who can make better quality food for the children., or was it a omission that just happened to go against the “progressive” narative of the article.

    [Ed. Note: You are reading too much in to it and by doing so, making insinuations which don't further the discussion. No deliberate omission was made.]

  25. 72 · someone ABD’s are simply not qualified and don’t have the right to comment on Indian affairs.

    That’s a crazily over-the top-comment–I, for one, can comment about anything I please, thank you very much. You obviously don’t mean legal right, so what’s your moral theory for when person A(BD) has the “right” to comment on social practice D? The “5-year” requirement you mention seems pretty makeweight if you conceive of persons as free and equal.

  26. Tarta, is capitalism helping alleviate casteism at all from your understanding? And isn’t discrimination present within the dalit community too?

    Read something on the BBC (an outside source admittedly, but the journalist, a food writer, practically stumbled upon the politics over food) a few months ago that made me wonder: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/cooking_in_the_danger_zone/6551389.stm//

    You are right about not non-residents not having a sense of the street. I give you that. So perhaps you can enlighten any positives that may have emerged over the past few years in the battle against casteism (if one indeed exists), and whether there appears to be reasonable way out.

    That said, it is troubling when a stance is taken against a lady attacking her “uncleanliness.” Perhaps these incidents happen less often, but that doesn’t mean a person who lives off the street doesn’t have the right to queston or condemn it. Protesting shoddy curry, I understand. Protesting an “impure” chef, quite another. It doesn’t matter where such incidents take place. It’s just ethically unsound. And cruel. But that’s the perspective of a voyeur.

  27. 47 · tarta said

    you sitting in the US, smugly critising me, arent really the person to lecture me on indian life and society.

    This statement is very interesting, that arises time and again when nations deal with other nations and there is a conflict to be resolved. For e.g. Musharraf makes a very similar statement in a recent interview - “The problem with the West is that you want the developing world to do everything that you wish and desire. Are we that incapable? Are we that small? This is not a banana republic…”

    In fact this attitude probably arise humans deal with other humans. Wonder how to deal with such situations ?

  28. wow, i wish i could say i wasn’t surprised by all the hating on guess-whose-post. oh well. two points

    1) economics matters. social context matters. i think wealth creation is the #1 way that caste will no longer be bar. when people can be proud of their “f*ck you!” money they won’t have to swagger about how they are pure-orthodox-brahmins/rajputs/jatts/etc. etc.

    2) since i’ve started talking to and communicating with other american brownz i have been a bit surprised that a minority of those born & raised here are quite proud of their caste lineage. theoretically some of these could be punctilious in continuing their religious-cultural traditions, but the vast majority are just expressing ethnic pride. e.g., “i’m a kashmiri pandit, so my blood is pure and our women aren’t ugly kalas like in bengal or tamil nadu.” or, “i’m a tambram, so i knew how to integrate by parts when i was 3, it is in our nature.” or, “i’m a christian/ismaili, but our ancestors were brahmin.” or, “i’m muslim, but our ancestors weren’t converts, we came from persia/arabia/turkestan.” this is normal, like some white americans bragging about how they are descended from the bourbon dynasty. but, remember people that bragging about your people or your ancestors will often just highlight that you have little to brag about as an individual.

    p.s. i hate india.

  29. “The problem with the West is that you want the developing world to do everything that you wish and desire. Are we that incapable? Are we that small? This is not a banana republic…”

    Uhhh…how is Pakistan not a banana republic?

  30. 69 · nala said

    IMO, the former example is a legitimate criticism

    How is this a legitimate criticism? Why can’t I make an equivalently ridiculous criticism – How can you comment on my understanding of the issue as an Indian living in America when you have spent all your life in India?

    If everybody can only talk about their own experience, there will be absolutely no basis to discuss a large number of issues. Dismissing somebody’s criticisms purely because they haven’t walked in your shoes is just another type of ad hominem argument. If you believe the person is misinformed or that their argument misrepresents the situation, that should be a simple enough point to make.

    Dizzy Desi, the post does mention that even Mrs. Rawat admits that her cooking isn’t all that, but there is enough surrounding information, especially the selective boycott of her cooking, to suspect non culinary factors in the decision.

  31. Dharna: “A fast conducted at the door of an offender, especially a debtor, in India as a means of obtaining compliance with a demand for justice, such as payment of a debt.[Bartleby, but not the scrivener]“

    Did anyone else instantly recall HBO’s Rome series and the scene where Servila goes on what can only now be called a dharna at Atia’s doorsteps, mournfully calling out: “Atia of the Julii, I call for justice.” ?

  32. 83 · razib said

    1) economics matters. social context matters. i think wealth creation is the #1 way that caste will no longer be bar. when people can be proud of their “f*ck you!” money they won’t have to swagger about how they are pure-orthodox-brahmins/rajputs/jatts/etc. etc.

    Once lower castes start making more money, the upper castes may lose their power to oppress. But I imagine that as wealth disparity increases in India (propelled by wealth creation), high-caste poor people will cling evermore tightly to their caste identities.

    If caste identity does weaken I think it will do so India urbanizes and populations are dislocated. Does anybody in Mumbai know or care about the caste of some guy riding in from UP? Also its much more difficult to maintain caste purity in urban areas.

    Perhaps the best way to eliminate castes is to make the caste system sound uncool. Young ABDs who brag about their castes sound like dorks (jatts are an inexplicable exception)and most ABDs tend to ignore it.

  33. 69 · someone said

    A slow news rolls around and Anna and company at SM troll the news for India articles. ABD’s are simply not qualified and don’t have the right to comment on Indian affairs. American sanctimonious preaching is irritating at best, dangerous at worst (see Iraq)…

    congrats #69 for the comment of the day! you caught us. your witty exposé uncovered “anna and company’s” secret ploy to troll teh news for the worst possible news on india.

    but, in keeping to the fairness of your critique – hush on the whole iraq thing, eh? and for that matter, and foreign policy decision made from the states. this is in keeping with the whole qualifications and rights thing, natch.

    anyway, puppies in the next post – let’s do our best not to kick.

  34. “but, in keeping to the fairness of your critique – hush on the whole iraq thing, eh? and for that matter, and foreign policy decision made from the states. this is in keeping with the whole qualifications and rights thing, natch.”

    FYI, America invading Iraq is an international matter, howmuchever Americans may wish to convey the impression that Iraq has always been a state of the union.

  35. . But I imagine that as wealth disparity increases in India (propelled by wealth creation), high-caste poor people will cling evermore tightly to their caste identities.

    perhaps, but appeal to the class of birth as opposed to the class of attainment are weak tea and the refuge of the desperate ;-)

  36. FYI, America invading Iraq is an international matter, howmuchever Americans may wish to convey the impression that Iraq has always been a state of the union.

    Only Americans, Iraqis, and actual deployed soldiers belonging to the coalition of the willing are allowed to talk about it.

  37. How is this a legitimate criticism? Why can’t I make an equivalently ridiculous criticism – How can you comment on my understanding of the issue as an Indian living in America when you have spent all your life in India? If everybody can only talk about their own experience, there will be absolutely no basis to discuss a large number of issues. Dismissing somebody’s criticisms purely because they haven’t walked in your shoes is just another type of ad hominem argument. If you believe the person is misinformed or that their argument misrepresents the situation, that should be a simple enough point to make.

    I mean that comparatively when it comes to the criticisms lobbed at ABDs that Seahawks Fan pointed out-’Go back to India!’ vs. ‘You don’t know what it’s like to live in India’-the former has no grounding and is simply racist, but the latter obviously has some grounding, because ABDs simply literally don’t know what it’s like to live in India. Frankly I just find this to be a ridiculous complaint, but then I’m someone who thinks that rich people should generally just live it up and while doing so, shut the f*ck up. This is not to say that ABDs aren’t allowed to criticize anything about India, obviously they are, but some commenters felt that the perspective provided here is biased, especially when they were alleged to be a-OK with casteism. And let’s not pretend that there aren’t some really ignorant and frankly, racist, ABDs out there. I haven’t spent my entire life in India BTW, more like 44% of it so far, though that percentage will most likely decrease as the years go by.

  38. Karthik,

    “Although I agree that it looks mundane, the aspect that caught my eye is the fact that we are talking about kids, kids who are supposed to be pure and unbiased. That changes everything.”

    If kids “who are supposed to be pure and unbiased” were left without adult supervision, even in Freedomland USA, you wouldn’t have even hospitals to deal with the situation. Kids in their feral state are monsters and it takes years of schooling and parenting to get them to not beat each other to death (boys) or drive each other to suicide (girls). I’d always prefer collegiate adults to sophomoric children. For every one Dick Cheney in adulthood, there are a thousand kids who entertain themselves setting fire to live cats and dogs.

  39. perhaps, but appeal to the class of birth as opposed to the class of attainment are weak tea and the refuge of the desperate ;-)

    when it comes to high-caste poor people in india, it is desperate, but that desperation is also partly b/c they simply don’t have as many means to attainment as they optimally would.

  40. JGandhi I would imagine that with increased wealth creation oppurtunities in India, people would be foolish to waste their energy in propogating or heeding to caste divisions.

    You are correct in that lower castes lend themselves to opression primarily because inspite of a large headcount, they are economic underweights, similar to what India was a few decades back. Things are changing now and the reasons are not philantrophic or social, but economic. There is a nice parallel of how Indians have been and are currently perceived in the world order, and in the Indian caste scenario.

  41. someone @ 85: iraq fair game? really? and india’s stake is?

    what i’m driving at is the unfortunate dead end we find ourselves at when we’re not having a fruitful dialogue on ills, woes and solutions.we’re all in each others mess – for better or worse – and whatever connection we maintain with the motherland is done out of sincere interest for the well being of all within (including those we’re not qualified to discuss.)

  42. I gave a warning, so we would not need to close this thread. Many of the people who indicated their interest in this story by voting on it haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet.

    Your urge to be petty and unfair exceeded your ability to control yourselves and behave courteously. Time to close, though it is unfair that a few determined hecklers ruined it for all.