THE OTHER INDIA
This week, President Bush was right to talk about 300 million Indians who are approaching middle class earning and spending capacity, people who have interest in Amercian-made technology and products. But the President did not care to mention the fact that there are another 330 million Indian people who are not only living in abject poverty, but who are considered beyond caste, untouchables, Dalits (meaning, in Hindi, "crushed," "stepped on," "oppressed.") or Harijans (a well-intended designation given by Mahatma Gandhi, meaning "people of God"). To compare America to India as somehow co-equal in the exercise of democracy and justice, and to not even acknowlege the fact that 330 million Indian people continue to be utterly left behind and disregarded by a middle class clamoring for a place in the secular economic sun, is, at best, insensitive and dishonest. Dalits are discriminated against routinely and openly in Indian society. It is as if the American leader just overlooked a third of India's population who are treated and regarded worse than African-Americans prior to the Civil Rights movement. The history of American democracy and integrity of leadership calls for something better than this dismal representation.
Read about oppression against the Dalits in India.