The appalling institutional cruelty with which Indians treat each other has echoes of American racial segregation that exploded in the 1960s and led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A century earlier, the 13th amendment to the US constitution was meant to have eliminated slavery and made blacks equal citizens, just as India’s 1949 constitution banned caste discrimination and a later 1976 law made bonded labour or slavery — which targets the lower castes — illegal. It didn’t work. According to a UN report earlier this month, India keeps more people in slavery than any other country. The two groups who could fix it — politicians and industrialists — have shown neither the wit nor will to do so. But, as recent uprisings have shown, India does not have America’s luxury of time.
Here is an excerpt from student activists in Atlanta in March 1960 and when reading swap ‘Negro’ for ‘low caste’ or ‘Dalit’.
….cannot tolerate…the discriminatory conditions under with the Negro is living today….We plan to use every legal and non-violent means at our disposal to secure full citizenship rights as members of this great Democracy of ours.
As Martin Luther King took inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, I suspect the Indian activist that leads to break this crime will take inspiration from King.