Tag Archives: caste

An India like this too

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For an affluent middle-class Indian (or if you like it this way – Indian of affluent middle-class) – the thought of India probably brings some of these images to mind.

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After all of those rich and rosy figures – picture this.

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Image Courtesy: Covert Magazine.

The following are snippets of a report from “Covert Magazine”.

Read the full report here – “Of Mice & Men”.

To uncover the reality of India – you got to read it, especially those who consider that caste barriers are not present in society and people are more worried about what affects their day to day lives. For many their caste affects their day-to-day lives.

And I must add – the report by Mr.Prayaag Akbar is truly an eye-opener for many people – a good glance at how much more needs to be done in the society we live in. Thanks for the report.

The Musahars are one of the most deprived communities in India. They were given Maha-Dalit status by the Bihar Government some years ago, testament to the abject penury in which most live. They are perhaps best known as rat-eaters [mus — mouse; ahar — eater], a title many in the community are keen to live down, though the tradition remains. Even so, in the villages I visited, the villagers refused repeatedly to hunt rats for the cameras of the freelance photographer who accompanied me [in one ridiculous interlude, he offered the children Rs 10 for every rat they caught. They still refused.]

To reach this village you must walk through an ankle-deep swamp until you arrive at a cluster of tiny mud huts. Like every village in India, living arrangements are segmented sharply along the lines of caste: in the distance are the houses of the Yadavs and further along are the Paswans [both of whom are considered upper-caste Dalits and have enjoyed years of patronage under leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan]. The biggest houses belong to the Thakurs, the landowners of the area, though I am told there is a smattering of Muslim families who have their own conclave.

Kuleshar Manji says, “There is no irrigation, so we can’t water any of the crops on our land. But the Government put in pumps and pipes for the areas where the upper-castes have their land. If we don’t work on their land we won’t have anything at all.”

The next time you say – taking up weapons is no solution to a problem, think twice – what option do you have them left with, what choice do you give them.

Many young men from the lowest-caste groups in each village have taken up cause with the Naxalites, disillusioned by the unchanging patterning of society. One former Naxal, a young Musahar who studied in Dwarako Sundari’s school and is now a businessman in Bodhgaya, explains: “A lot of the villages here are named after Naxal heroes. People get tired of waiting for change. I drifted in and out of camps since I was 15. We used to hold tribunals here, because the villagers were tired of going to the corrupt courts.”

The former Naxal continues, “While I was growing up, the schools did not have teachers, no health officials would ever come to these areas. They all said the Naxals made it too dangerous for them to work. It is the same now.”

As the Buddha once left the grounds of his palace in Kapilavastu and found nothing but disease and desolation, leave the city limits of Bodhgaya and you enter a poverty-stricken wasteland.

They live in the same society we live in, then why are we at different ends. And we know that we ourselves do not live “the” best of lives, in that case one must give a thought to how these people live every day of their life.