Combatting caste (Issue 380)
July 2005

In India, Leelaben has spent a lifetime carrying shit in a basket on her head. In the West, caste is still a criterion in some communities when looking for a bride or bridegroom. In Japan, the Internet is being used to incite hatred against the Buraku people.

These are among the countless examples of discrimination faced by the 250 million people who were born into what are considered to be ‘low’ or ‘untouchable’ castes.

Today, many such people in Asia call themselves Dalits – which means ‘the broken people’ but symbolizes their active resistance to the system that oppresses them. They are inspired by Dr Ambedkar, the Dalit who wrote the Indian Constitution, who said: ‘Ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality.’ The scandal is that in the 21st century this battle still continues.

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