It wasn’t supposed to be like that. Almost 60 years ago, India formally abolished caste-based discrimination (untouchability). But centuries-old habits die hard, and discrimination against “low” castes is still rife in many parts of the country. The news agency Reuters says that Dalits “still face prejudice in every sector from education to employment.”
This affront to the idea of meritocracy obviously pays no heed to whatever successes individual Dalits attain. As a Dalit, you can become, through good luck and perseverance, a judge, a doctor, or a state governor… and scores of Indian people will still treat you like, well, shit. Violence against Dalits is common.
The good news: Thanks to religion, that great equalizer – that hugely successful promoter of love, peace, and oneness – Hindu temples all over India are much-needed safe havens for Dalits.
The government in the Indian state of Bihar has ordered an investigation after reports that a Hindu temple was cleaned and its idols washed after a visit by the state’s chief minister (governor), who belongs to a lower caste community.