The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who are the real Dalits of India?

Who are the real Dalits of India?: "When we hear that a resolution is to be tabled in the US Congress next month to address the problem of 'caste discrimination and untouchability' in India, one feels like asking Americans if they forgot the horrible treatment they meted out to their Negro slaves!

And look at the condition of their own poor black people today, as seen recently during the New Orleans Katrina cyclone.

United States Congressman Christopher Smith, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said that for all the progress India has made over the years, it was highly regrettable that the lot of these 'untouchables' remained in such a terrible state as they continued to be victimised under the yoke of a shameful caste system.

Has Congressman Christopher Smith ever been to India? Probably not. He no doubt relies on the testimony of Indians like Kancha Ilaiah, founder of the Dalit-Bahujan (Scheduled and Backward Caste) movement, and author of the book Why I Am Not A Hindu.

What would Congressman Christopher Smith find if he bothered to visit India and make an honest assessment?

That true, there are still atrocities committed against Dalits in India, but that there are also a number of atrocities committed against upper caste Indians, including against the Kashmiri Pandits, thousands of them having been butchered (ten of them during the recent earthquake in Kashmir) and 400,000 of them being refugees in their own country.

That Dalits are coming up, thanks to a reservation system put into place more than 40 years, ago, to the extent that India's last President was a Dalit.

That many of the saints and avatars worshipped in India are from lower classes: Maharshi Ved Vyas, who wrote the Mahabharata, which also contains the Bhagavad Gita, was the son of a fisherwoman; Valmiki, once a highway robber, who composed the Ramayana, was also from a fisherman's caste; Chandragupta Maurya of the Maurya dynasty originates from Muria, a tribe which "

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