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Old September 3rd, 2008, 02:20 PM
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Exclamation Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias
August 30, 2008

By SOMINI SENGUPTA
AZAMGARH DISTRICT, India — When Chandra Bhan Prasad visits his ancestral village in these feudal badlands of northern India, he dispenses the following advice to his fellow untouchables: Get rid of your cattle, because the care of animals demands children’s labor. Invest in your children’s education instead of in jewelry or land. Cities are good for Dalit outcastes like us, and so is India’s new capitalism.


Mr. Prasad was born into the Pasi community, once considered untouchable on the ancient Hindu caste order. Today, a chain-smoking, irrepressible didact, he is the rare outcaste columnist in the English language press and a professional provocateur. His latest crusade is to argue that India’s economic liberalization is about to do the unthinkable: destroy the caste system. The last 17 years of new capitalism have already allowed his people, or Dalits, as they call themselves, to “escape hunger and humiliation,” he says, if not residual prejudice.


At a time of tremendous upheaval in India, Mr. Prasad is a lightning rod for one of the country’s most wrenching debates: Has India’s embrace of economic reforms really uplifted those who were consigned for centuries to the bottom of the social ladder? Mr. Prasad, who guesses himself to be in his late 40s because his birthday was never recorded, is an anomaly, often the lone Dalit in Delhi gatherings of high-born intelligentsia.


He has the zeal of an ideological convert: he used to be a Maoist revolutionary who, by his own admission, dressed badly, carried a pistol and recruited his people to kill their upper-caste landlords. He claims to have failed in that mission.


Mr. Prasad is a contrarian. He calls government welfare programs patronizing. He dismisses the countryside as a cesspool. Affirmative action is fine, in his view, but only to advance a small slice into the middle class, who can then act as role models. He calls English “the Dalit goddess,” able to liberate Dalits.


Along with India’s economic policies, once grounded in socialist ideals, Mr. Prasad has moved to the right. He is openly and mischievously contemptuous of leftists. “They have a hatred for those who are happy,” he said.


There are about 200 million Dalits, or members of the Scheduled Castes, as they are known officially, in India. They remain socially scorned in city and country, and they are over-represented among India’s uneducated, malnourished and poor.


The debate over caste in the New India is more than academic. India’s leaders are under growing pressure to alleviate poverty and inequality. Now, all kinds of groups are clamoring for what Dalits have had for 50 years — quotas in university seats, government jobs and elected office — making caste one of the country’s most divisive political issues. Moreover, there are growing demands for caste quotas in the private sector.


Mr. Prasad’s latest mission is sure to stir the debate. He is conducting a qualitative survey of nearly 20,000 households here in northern state of Uttar Pradesh to measure how everyday life has changed for Dalits since economic liberalization began in 1991. The preliminary findings, though far from generalizable, reveal subtle shifts.


The survey, financed by the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania, finds that Dalits are far less likely to be engaged in their traditional caste occupations — for instance, the skinning of animals, considered ritually unclean — than they used to be and more likely to enjoy social perks once denied them. In rural Azamgarh District, for instance, nearly all Dalit households said their bridegrooms now rode in cars to their weddings, compared with 27 percent in 1990. In the past, Dalits would not have been allowed to ride even horses to meet their brides; that was considered an upper-caste privilege.


Mr. Prasad credits the changes to a booming economy. “It has pulled them out of the acute poverty they were in and the day-to-day humiliation of working for a landlord,” he said.


To prove his point, Mr. Prasad recently brought journalists here to his home district. In one village, Gaddopur, his theory was borne out in the tale of a gaunt, reticent man named Mahesh Kumar, who went to work in a factory 300 miles away so his family would no longer have to live as serfs, tending the animals of the upper caste.


When he was a child, Dalits like him had to address their upper-caste landlords as “babu-saab,” close to “master.” Now it is acceptable to call them “uncle” or “brother,” just as people would members of their own castes.


Today, Mr. Kumar, 61 and uneducated, owns an airless one-room factory on the outskirts of Delhi, with a basic gas-fired machine to press bolts of fabric for garment manufacturers. With money earned there, he and his sons have built a proper brick and cement house in their village.


Similar tales are echoed in many other villages across India. But here is the problem with Mr. Prasad’s survey. Even if it chronicles progress, the survey cannot tie it to any one cause, least of all economic changes. In fact, other empirical studies in this budding area of inquiry show that in parts of India where economic liberalization has had the greatest impact, neither rural poverty nor the plight of Dalits has consistently improved.


Abhijit Banerjee, an economist at M.I.T. who studies poverty in India, says that the reform years coincide with the rise of Dalit politicians, and that both factors may have contributed to a rise in confidence among Dalits.


Moreover, Old India’s caste prohibitions have made sure that some can prosper more easily than others. India’s new knowledge-based economy rewards the well-educated and highly skilled, and education for centuries was the preserve of the upper castes.


Today, discrimination continues, with some studies suggesting that those with familiar lower-caste names fare worse in job interviews, even with similar qualifications. The Indian elite, whether corporate heads, filmmakers, even journalists, is still dominated by the upper castes.


From across India still come reports of brutality against untouchables trying to transcend their destiny.
It is a measure of the hardships of rural India that so many Dalits in recent years are migrating to cities for back-breaking, often unregulated jobs, and that those who remain in their villages consider sharecropping a step up from day labor.


On a journey across these villages with Mr. Prasad, it is difficult to square the utter destitution of his people with Dalit empowerment. In one village, the government health center has collapsed into a pile of bricks. Few homes have toilets. Children run barefoot. In Gaddopur, the Dalit neighborhood still sits on the edge of the village — so as not to pollute the others, the thinking goes — and in the monsoon, when the fields are flooded, the only way to reach the Dalits’ homes is to tramp ankle deep in mud. The land that leads to the Dalit enclave is owned by intermediate castes, and they have not allowed for it to be used to build a proper brick lane.


Indu Jaiswal, 21, intends to be the first Dalit woman of Gaddopur to get a salaried job. She has persuaded her family to let her defer her marriage by a few years, an audacious demand here, so she could finish college and get a stable government job. “With education comes change,” Ms. Jaiswal said. “You learn how to talk. You learn how to work. And you get more respect.”


Without education, the migrants from Gaddopur also know, they can go only so far in the big cities that Mr. Prasad so ardently praises. Their fabric-pressing factories in and around Delhi have been losing business lately, as the big textile factories acquire computerized machines far more efficient than their own crude contraptions. One man with knowledge of computers can do the work of 10 of their men, they say. Neither Mr. Kumar, nor the two sons who work with him, can afford to buy these new machines. Even if they could, they know nothing about computers.


The village Dalits do not challenge Mr. Prasad with such contradictions as he travels among them preaching the virtues of economic liberalization. He is a big man, a success story that makes them proud.
Among the broad generalizations he favors, he says that Dalits aspire to marry upper-caste Brahmins to step up the ladder. He married a woman from his own caste, who, he proudly points out, is light-skinned. Across the caste ladder, fair complexion is still preferred over dark.
“Economic expansion is going to neutralize caste in 50 years,” he predicted. “It will not end caste.”


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  #2  
Old September 3rd, 2008, 03:21 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

a typical pinko article by a pinko biat(h
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An oft quoted Gandhian phrase is that if all were to follow an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, then the world would go blind. The counter to that is that if only some follow this and others don't then it is the non-violent who would go blind while the rogues will rule the world.
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Old September 4th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by BABU_HYDERABADI View Post
a typical pinko article by a pinko biat(h
What exactly is your point here? Is the writer wrong? I couldn't read the whole article as it was too long and broken into too many short paragraphs but the first couple of paras didn't seem to mention anything bad. I agree with the author and Mr. Prasad from the article that wealth is a good thing and can overcome some of the social disparities in our country. Let me know if I am wrong in thinking so... in any way.
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Old September 4th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

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Originally Posted by Sane Less View Post
What exactly is your point here? Is the writer wrong? I couldn't read the whole article as it was too long and broken into too many short paragraphs but the first couple of paras didn't seem to mention anything bad. I agree with the author and Mr. Prasad from the article that wealth is a good thing and can overcome some of the social disparities in our country. Let me know if I am wrong in thinking so... in any way.
Unless there is percolation of wealth to the lowest levels, there will never be prosperity, and the desired effects like peace and progress.

One thing I liked about American thought is that everyone should strive for the 'American dream' - a car, a house, a family.

This sounds very materialistic to our Indian psyche which has always preached 'being poor is noble, simple living and high thinking, wealth means some crooked ways were used to get it, etc'

Look at all old movies. Look at Raj Kapoor's Shri 420 and such. All these movies always showed rich folks to be crooked and being poor was given a status next to Godliness.

Whereas in USA the thought was to achieve as many materialistic things as possible.

What we, as Indians, forget is that this pursuit of 'materialistic comforts' leads to a lot of progress. Your desires ensure that factories which can make them remain in business. Many folks get jobs in such factories and the cycle goes on.

In India the political thought of mixed Communist Socialism really screwed us all. Even if you wanted to get wealthy by way of hard work and business, you were looked upon as crooked. Look at what Dhirubhai Ambani faced - quotas on how much he could manufacture and export!

Yes, if there is enough wealth and people are engaged in creating wealth and prosperity for themselves then it definitely is good for the nation.
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Old September 4th, 2008, 10:14 AM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sane Less View Post
What exactly is your point here? Is the writer wrong? I couldn't read the whole article as it was too long and broken into too many short paragraphs but the first couple of paras didn't seem to mention anything bad. I agree with the author and Mr. Prasad from the article that wealth is a good thing and can overcome some of the social disparities in our country. Let me know if I am wrong in thinking so... in any way.
BTW did u ever read any other article by this biat(h, she is full of venom for anything good against INDIA
FYI you are not supposed to use dalit word, thats her first mistake
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An oft quoted Gandhian phrase is that if all were to follow an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, then the world would go blind. The counter to that is that if only some follow this and others don't then it is the non-violent who would go blind while the rogues will rule the world.
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Old September 5th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by BABU_HYDERABADI View Post
BTW did u ever read any other article by this biat(h, she is full of venom for anything good against INDIA
FYI you are not supposed to use dalit word, thats her first mistake
This thread was for this particular article of hers... why bring her other articles here. Btw, I have never heard about her before... and looking at her writing style, don't really care.

And why is dalit a bad word now
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Old September 5th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by BABU_HYDERABADI View Post
BTW did u ever read any other article by this biat(h, she is full of venom for anything good against INDIA
FYI you are not supposed to use dalit word, thats her first mistake
Is it just me or is there really is something about journalists from West Bengal origins? Arundhati Roy, then this article writer Somini Sengupta, all of them always being ashamed of India.
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Old September 5th, 2008, 04:14 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sane Less View Post
This thread was for this particular article of hers... why bring her other articles here. Btw, I have never heard about her before... and looking at her writing style, don't really care.

And why is dalit a bad word now
I think SC banned the use of the word, but still most of these JNU types use it.
she is a regular contributor to NYT and she is one of the mombattivallas(the group that does the act of holding candles on wagah border)
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An oft quoted Gandhian phrase is that if all were to follow an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, then the world would go blind. The counter to that is that if only some follow this and others don't then it is the non-violent who would go blind while the rogues will rule the world.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

http://retributions.wordpress.com/20...mini-sengupta/

check this blog to know what kind of a pinko biat(h this somni sen gupta is
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An oft quoted Gandhian phrase is that if all were to follow an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, then the world would go blind. The counter to that is that if only some follow this and others don't then it is the non-violent who would go blind while the rogues will rule the world.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Please understand the so called stopping on grazing cattles of upper caste or not working on fields of upper caste has destroyed all village economy.
Unfortunately parties like Samajwadi party and BSP both have encouraged people not to work on fields but obviously they have to make a living so they end up in places like Bombay where they work in a hotel and there day starts with a Gali and ends with a Gali.
There could be few success stories but they are aberrations.

Last edited by Randheer; September 20th, 2008 at 12:38 PM.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 12:37 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

I will suggest please read the book "The Insider" by P.V. Narasimha Rao,one of the greatest prime minister of India.
If some day i become education minister I will make it a Text Book for students

There he explains how congress to get cheap popularity demolished Jamindari system in haste without providing a Village level economy,a good police and judicial system, a good infrastructure.

Finishing Landlords was very easy as they either started using heavy machinery like harvester or sold their land and brought huge properties in cities. Who was the ultimate looser,the poor man.

You can make people arrogant of for their poverty but that will not help.

Last edited by Randheer; September 20th, 2008 at 12:48 PM.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 12:42 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Caste system was a very bad thing but it was natural balancer.Can you imagine in pakistan where there is no caste system a person like Ram Vilas paswan or Mayawati becomming something.

Why these commie intellectuals to humiliate indians and for all evils site caste system.

It was always Rich and Poor,e.g I have a Brahmin maid who washes utencils but i will not allow her to sit on my sofa but If Mayawati comes to my house probably I will sit on ground before her.

And this difference between Rich and poor will always be there.
If some body wants to humiliate India then he can always cry foul on caste system.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by echarcha View Post
Is it just me or is there really is something about journalists from West Bengal origins? Arundhati Roy, then this article writer Somini Sengupta, all of them always being ashamed of India.
This is typical Indian Communist mentality. They are always ashamed of India but will never know what to do about that. e.g all these bengali journalists won't take Bangladesh Citizenship but will always sit and bark against India.

Unfortunately they have disproportionate representation in Media,education system and they are doing enormous harm to the country.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randheer View Post
This is typical Indian Communist mentality. They are always ashamed of India but will never know what to do about that. e.g all these bengali journalists won't take Bangladesh Citizenship but will always sit and bark against India.

Unfortunately they have disproportionate representation in Media,education system and they are doing enormous harm to the country.
There is some old proverb or adage which goes like - "If you cant, then teach, if you cant teach then..." I am sorry I dont remember it completely, so correct me.

I think people who cannot do anything meaningful in life turn to journalism as you see it. In a way all of us are journalists because we write blogs or participate in such forums, but those who make a career out of it surely have something missing. I have respect for very few journalists because they write the truth as it is - no spin, no sugar coating, no bias.

But you are right, I think the Bengali student is taught from kindergarten that they are super special and hence the system hates them. they are victims and hence they need to bark at everything other than communist ideals.
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Old September 20th, 2008, 10:09 PM
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Re: Crusader Sees Wealth as Cure for Caste Bias

I hate the day when i watched a program, "We The People"where that lady jornalist Burkha Dutta was discussing giving away kashmir with kashmiri separatists. To make it more authentic she has invited an army officer to debate and I can see the pain on army officers's face who would have seen his men and collefues dying for saving the country and here this lady sitting in an AC room was discussing disintegrating India.

Can all these left inclined journos do the same in their dream country China.
India is too a soft state and people here don't understand the meaning of freedom.
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