The Disadvantages of Hinduism for Indians in Extreme Poverty
The caste system in India leaves the Dalits living in extreme poverty. In a 2007 article in the Washington post “A Broken People in Booming India“:
India may be booming, but not for those who occupy the lowest rung of society here. The Dalits, once known as untouchables, continue to live in grinding poverty and suffer discrimination in education, jobs and health care. For them, status and often occupation are still predetermined in the womb.
While some Indians had been hopeful that urbanization and growth would crumble ideas about caste, observers say tradition and prejudice have ultimately prevailed.
“There’s talk of a modern India. But the truth is India can’t truly move ahead with caste in place,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer and expert on India’s caste system. “In all ways, it’s worse than the Jim Crow laws were in the American South because it’s completely sanctioned by religion. Despite so many reforms, the idea of untouchability is still very much a part of Indian life.”
As India’s economy surges, one of the country’s most serious and stubborn challenges is how to combat entrenched caste prejudice. Dalits, along with other “backward” castes, make up the majority of India’s 1.1 billion people, and social scientists here worry that these groups are being left behind.