The Untouchables

Unlike Eliot Ness’s squad of prohibition cops, the untouchables of India are a far far more fearsome proposition.

The dalits or harijans are people who were part of the castes who were associated with the traditionally unclean work. Leather work (hindus still wear leather despite not consuming cows), slaughter house work (the crime is in the killing not in the consumption), removal of rubbish and in one of the most abusive aspects of human existence, in the removal of human waste from latrines. The practice has died out in most of the cities but in rural areas it still persists. Which means its wide spread. Remember nearly 70 percent of India lives rural. Much like the 1950s and america, there is segregation in India. The idea is that uncleanliness is contagious and that contact with the dalit means that you are tarnished by association. Still many places have a practice where they refuse to let the dalit touch the same wells or even drink from the same cup. They will pour out water for you and you sip from the stream rather than a cup. Different temples, schools and funeral areas. They stay in their own ghettoes. [Read more…]

Age of Kali – Moral Police

The Indian rule of mob is well known. When my bus ran over a drunken pedestrian who slipped and fell into traffic the result was the entire population of the bus doing a collective hit and run and fleeing the scene. I didn’t. Me and a few other medical students tried (well succeeded) in saving the man’s life.

It was my first run in with India’s “Moral Police”. The Moral Police is the impromptu mob that forms to fight perceived injustice or immorality. It is the worst aspects of “speaking as a mother” and lynch mob mentality put together. A mob had formed to “avenge” the unknown drunkard and the only visible victims for their justice were the blood soaked medics who had saved a man’s life. Medicine has the kind of power to deflect these mobs (No one wants to irk the people who can save your life) so in  this case the white coats prevailed over the mob, but it could have very easily turned into this.

If the link is down? TL:DR in an incident of Moral Policing, a muslim woman and a hindu man were attacked by a mob for travelling together.

On Wednesday night a group of 20 individuals attacked the two individuals who were believed to fit the dubious indian concept of “misbehaving”. Which is apparently “Two people travelling together of different genders and maybe different religions”. Because forming an angry mob to beat the crap out of two people is perfectly moral but people with different genitals hanging out together is totally wrong.

This could be “politics” as usual but it could just as well be a bunch of people who went out looking for trouble based on the perceived destruction of morality. It’s happened before. Usually fast food joints, “western” clothing stores and people in clubs and bars feel the righteous sting of these pillars of the community. Most infamously is the assault on Valentine’s Day which has become an annual practice.

This is nothing. This is par for the course for this kind of behaviour.

This also didn’t really make the papers.

If that goes down? Well… Two people fell in love and got married. Aww… The problem is one of them was a high caste girl and the boy was a dalit (Graphic Photos are linked here). A harijan. An untouchable.

What ensued was the formation of the morality police who even held their own goddamn court to decide to break up this marriage. The police stepped in (rightly) to protect the couple. The mob decided to take revenge by torching and robbing the dalit community in Naikkankottai in the Dharmapuri district. A 268 homes were destroyed in the violence.

Why? Because of caste. Because the perceived shame of a man whose daughter married an untouchable. In that shame and loss of honour he committed suicide. The Morality Police don’t see it as “two people who love each other getting married and a some idiot behaving like a spoilt brat” but “Untouchable steals woman to sexually violate. Stupid girl doesn’t know anything. Father kills self because his honour is besmirched. Let’s go beat some uppity untouchables and steal their shit.”.

This is unacceptable. It’s nearly 70 years after Gandhi’s dalit army marched for Indian independence. Where the Harijans (Children of God) laid their lives on the line for India as a whole. The fact remains that most harijans still face incredible discrimination. (edit – I noted a lot of statements about the Gandhi Harijan dealie. I was unaware of this issue. The OP will still stand but I accept that perhaps Gandhi isn’t the best example of uplift considering his rather quaint beliefs.)

And it won’t change. Caste is still going strong, especially in the digital age. There is too much money in the politics of caste for it to be stamped out. It is a lead weight on the progress of India as a country. If you must have honour then we should be disappointed. There is more shame in Indians still follow this bullshit than in two people loving each other.