A Tale of Two Indias | Analysis

Indledning
To get to 15-year-old Vikas Sharma's home in Bangalore, you have to travel along a narrow dusty lane, then climb a steep flight of stairs that's draped with a neighbor's drying laundry.

Inside the tiny apartment, the bedroom Vikas shares with his younger brother is so small there's barely room for the bed and the table where the two boys study.

It may sound sparse, but the Sharma family has already come a long way. Seven years ago, they moved to Bangalore—a rapidly growing city often referred to as India's "Silicon Valley"

—from a tiny impoverished village in the northern state of Bihar, where there was no running water or reliable electricity.

There was also no English-language school. "My parents wanted us to join an English school and make our future in the big city," explains Vikas.

Most Indians consider mastery of English, used in business and government, to be essential for success. The Sharma family is among the millions of Indians who are moving out of poverty and into the middle class, as India's economy continues to soar.

They represent a bridge between two vastly different Indias: The India they've left behind is largely agricultural, uneducated, and very poor; the new India they're grasping at has a vibrant economy with an expanding high-tech sector and is rapidly becoming a global economic power.

"You have striking growth and progress and terrible poverty and lack of progress in the same country," says Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Indholdsfortegnelse
INDIA - introduction.........................2
A Tale of Two Indias...............2
Britisk Indien..............................6
Shashi Tharoor's Stirring Speech at Oxford Union Goes Viral.............11
Political Map of India.....................................12
Hinduism.........................................13
What is India's caste system?..................13
India’s caste system is alive and kicking – and maiming and killing.........................17
Cow slaughter to be punishable by life sentence in Gujarat.....................21
Women in India.....................23
'Death by dowry' claim by bereaved family in India........................23
India's Shame....................26
Can an advert for tea really change India's sexist attitudes?..............................28
Business in India.........................30
Bengaluru: what's next for India's tech capital?........................30
What Has 'Make in India' Made for India?.......................33
Fiction................................36
Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies..................36

Uddrag
The country is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its independence from Britain. But for its ‘untouchables ’, oppression and violence are still an everyday reality

‘We are taught to be proud of our country’s prolonged battle against colonialism, of the martyrs who gave their blood for India.

Yet what does freedom mean for our poorest people?’ Independence Day celebrations in Bangalore.

It’s 15 August 2016, and in India we’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of our independence. Flags wave. There’s the usual huge Independence Day parade in the capital.

But the celebrations bring out both pride and anguish . All of us imbibed the “freedom struggle” stories as children. We were taught to be proud of our country’s prolonged battle against colonialism, of the martyrs who gave their blood for India.

We showed the world how to shed the shackles of imperialism. And we spread the doctrine of non-violence at a time when it seemed an impossible dream. What’s not to be proud of?

But for those who work with our poorest, most marginalised groups, to ask some loaded questions is almost mandatory. What does freedom mean?

Free to be mercilessly thrashed for doing a job thrust forcibly on you, such as skinning dead cows, your destiny because that’s the caste you were born into? “It’s our curse,” dalits have said to me.

As I write this, the dalits (India’s most oppressed group, our “untouchables”) are doing a special “freedom” march to Una, a small town in Gujarat where last month four young men were brutally beaten up with iron rods by a mob of cow vigilantes for skinning dead cows.

These young men are from the “chamar” or leather tanning caste. Even now, if ordered to move a carcass – and that means any dead animal ranging from cows to goats to dogs or cats

– they are compelled by societal norms to do so, regardless of whether they’ve earned a doctorate in economics or history.

The unwritten rule: once a chamar, always a chamar. Yes, we’ve come a long way economically, but our feudal system is alive and well. And not just kicking. It’s maiming, raping and killing, too.

As millions of Indians celebrate Independence Day, the Times of India ran a story about Ovindra Pal, a dalit man who despite having a master’s in history, was forced to work in his father’s trade, skinning bovine carcasses.

Understandably, Pal is bitter, as are thousands of dalits who have painstakingly inched up the education ladder but still can’t find a job commensurate with their skills and qualifications.

All Indians, whether Christian, Muslim, Parsi, Buddhist, Jain or Hindu, carry some vestiges of the caste system in them.

Caste and casteism have been carried to every corner of the globe to which the Indian diaspora migrated.

Our caste prejudices manifest themselves most clearly in the matrimonial newspaper columns, where prospective brides and grooms of all religions are sought for traditional marriage alliances.

Caste and skin colour are the most important criteria for admitting a strange woman into that most intimate circle, the home and the family.

The woman who will bring forth children to perpetuate the line must almost always be fair-skinned and of the same caste. The exceptions to this rule are very rare.

My plea this Independence Day is very basic, and echoes that of the marchers in Gujarat for justice and equality. I don’t care if people continue to choose whom they eat with or to whom they marry their daughters and sons.

Change, after all, comes slowly. But we do need to stop the prevailing culture of total impunity which allows murderers and rapists of our nation’s poorest people to flaunt their crimes, knowing they can get away with anything.

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