43.5% of Indians, the highest percentage in the world, say they do not want to have a neighbor of a different race, according to a Washington Post report based on World's Values Survey.

About Pakistan, the report says that  "although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch".

Housing Discrimination: 

It appears that there is a small but militant minority in Pakistan that is highly intolerant, but the vast majority of people are tolerant. My own experience as a  former Karachi-ite  is that there is little or no race or religion based housing segregation, the kind that is rampant in India where Muslims are not welcome in most Hindu-dominated neighborhoods. There have been many reports of top Muslim Bollywood stars having difficulty finding housing in Mumbai's upscale neighborhoods. A common excuse used to exclude them is the ostensible requirement to be vegetarian to live there.

Source: World Values Survey and Washington Post


Hate Against Indian Muslims:

The idea of racial purity is central to Hindu nationalists in India who have a long history of admiration for Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, including his "Final Solution".

In his book "We" (1939), Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the leader of the Hindu Nationalist RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) wrote, "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Caste-based Apartheid:

While Golwalar's principal target in the above paragraph were Indian Muslims, the treatment of lower caste Hindus in India also falls in the category of racism. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) now includes discrimination based on caste. Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. Despite this, and despite the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights reiterating that discrimination based on work and descent is a form of racial discrimination, the Indian government's stand on this issue has remained the same: caste is not race.

Over 250 million people are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.

Gandhi's Disdain for Black Africans:

It's not just the Hindu Nationalists who are racists. Even Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mahatma or the Great Soul, was not immune to Indians' racist tendencies. In 1908, recording his first experience in a South African prison, Gandhi referred to black South Africans as "kaffirs". According Joseph Lelyveld, the author of "Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India", Gandhi wrote: "We were then marched off to prison intended for kaffirs. ..we could understand not being classed with the whites, but to be placed with the Natives seemed too much to put up with. It is indubitably right that Indians should have separate cells."

Summary:

The findings of World's Values Survey on India are well-supported by other evidence such as the Hindutva ideology as spelled out by RSS leader Golwalkar, the existence of widespread caste-based discrimination classified as racism by the United Nations and lots of other anecdotal evidence. Just this month, Indian racism was on full display at a lavish Indian wedding in South Africa where guests flown in from India refused to be served by black waiters and drivers.

Let me conclude this post with a video interview of Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani who attended Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and studied archaeology, and said that he was ostracized and treated as a pariah by Hindu students and faculty at BHU. He was not allowed to sit and eat with his fellow students, he was asked to keep his plates and dishes separate in his room, and required to stand outside the dining hall to be served his meal and then wash the dishes himself. Later, when he graduated at the top of the archaeology class, he was offered a faculty position, but the University head and former president of India Radhakrishnan told him that he would be paid a salary but he would not be allowed to teach.Here is a video clip of late Prof Dani talking about it with Farah Husain on Morning with Farah TV show:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Indians Admire Israel and Hitler

Caste Apartheid in India

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Who Killed Karkare?

Procrastinating on Hindutva Terror

India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs

Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

Growing US-India Military Ties Worry Pakistan

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 16, 2013 at 11:10pm

Here's a BBC story on harassment of Africans in India:

Africans staying in and around India's commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), complain of indiscriminate racism and constant police harassment, reports the BBC's Zubair Ahmed.

Nigerian Sambo Davis is married to an Indian woman and lives in Mumbai.

All his documents are valid, but he was arrested by the police recently on suspicion of being a drug dealer.

He and 30 other black Africans were detained for hours before they were let off with an apology.

But the following day, Mr Davis said that he was shocked to read in local newspapers that they were "arrested for drug peddling".

"The police treat us Africans like dogs," he says.

Mr Davis claims he often faces discrimination when he goes to restaurants or when he tries to rent an apartment in gated middle-class communities.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

If Africans don't have papers, then deport them, don't put them in jail”

Ikeorah Junior
Nigerian cafe owner in Mumbai
But he is nevertheless one of the lucky ones. He found a decent flat to rent, thanks to his Indian wife.

But his fellow countrymen, he says, still face discrimination: "When they go to rent flats in a normal building they are told - 'you are a black man, you are Nigerian, and you are not wanted'. This is racism."

'Hide and seek'
There is no official data on how many Africans live in Mumbai, but since India's economic progress gathered momentum in recent years, many have come to work in and around the city. Unofficial estimates put their numbers at more than 5,000.

Most of them are engaged in exporting garments to Nigeria and other African countries....
---------
Against such a backdrop of pronounced prejudice, Sheeba Rani married Sambo Davis four years ago and the couple have two children.

Mrs Davis says her parents are enlightened Christians and they blessed them because they thought the marriage was God's wish.

But, she says, she has been ostracised by many friends, relatives and society since her marriage.

Mrs Davis is "embarrassed and ashamed" by the behaviour of the Indian people towards black Africans.
--------
"When I used to go to a mall or if I walked with him, I always wanted him to hold my hand. But when people saw me with him, they thought I was from a bad family or even a prostitute."

Earlier, she did not understand why black people were being looked down upon, but now she says she does.

"Because our society is obsessed with white skin. If I had married a white man, I would have gained more friends and society's approval too."

Mr Davis believes that the discrimination is solely "because I am a black man".

"It's because I am from Africa, I am a Nigerian. I think Indians see us as inferior."

Yet despite the discrimination they face, nearly all Africans the BBC interviewed said they had a soft spot for their adopted country.

They say the relations between India and Africa are "rock solid". Many argued that Indians and Africans are brothers.

"We look after Indians in our countries. They have become rich there. All we want here is for Indians to understand we are not drug dealers. We are not violent. We are just like them."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-21826366

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 16, 2013 at 11:42pm

Here's TOI report on UK's decision to recognize caste-ism as racism:

British parliament's decision to recognize the existence of caste alongside race as a form of discrimination could hurt India's long-held argument that the two sources of bias could not be equated.

Worse, it may give a strong push to portray caste as a global phenomenon like race, undercutting India's claim that caste prejudice was indigenous to Indian society and it could not be a subject of policy at international fora like the United Nations.

As the law in the UK became a reality earlier this week, experts said it would trigger lobbying for similar legal protection in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia - countries that are more sensitive to human rights issues and have a strong presence of Indian diaspora, but have little awareness of caste.

The presence of Hindu/Indian diaspora and a good chunk of dalits is the pre-requisite for such laws to come into effect. Officials and the civil society said a reluctant House of Commons could be persuaded because of the presence of around four lakh SCs in the UK.

While the development has led to glee among civil rights groups, the government is worried. Senior government sources said the UK law would pile pressure on India aided by noises from international bodies and greater scrutiny.

A laxity by Indian states in dealing with caste issues, as are routinely reported, could find mention in reports of Western countries and institutions. In the long-term, it could render India vulnerable as child labour and gender bias did earlier.

India has till now rebuffed pressure by arguing that caste was an Indian problem that stood proscribed by law with legal mechanisms to address it, including the affirmative action to help dalits. The official Indian stance on caste was unveiled at the 2000 Durban conference on racism.

Vivek Kumar, a sociologist with the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said, "The studies on diaspora will have to acknowledge that caste exists outside India. The new law in the UK has strengthened claims of academics that caste is not a local problem, but is part of diaspora."

According to Anand Kumar Bolimera, country director of Christian Aid, "India should take the leadership position to deal with caste globally. India need not be defensive about it. Indian constitution barred caste discrimination half a century ago and it has the best laws to deal with the issue."

Globalization has been sending Indians across the world, but in future, experts say, their movement would be seen as not just of biological entities but also of a cultural baggage that includes decadent practices.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-04-28/india/388776...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 26, 2013 at 6:47pm

A new opinion survey has come out recently that Iran and Pakistan are both the least liked nations while Germany is the best liked in the world. It was conducted for the BBC by GlobeScan and PIPA, who conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with randomly selected people in 25 countries.

It is just a coincidence that the two nations least liked in the BBC survey are both Islamic Republics? The only two Islamic Republics in the world? Is it not Islamophobia?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22624104

It's the haters, not the hated, who are either racists or the unwitting victims of the unrelenting propaganda of the powerful US media and entertainment industry which has long kept a running list of "bad guys".

The current list includes Iran, Pakistan and North Korea at the top of the villains list....and it's easy to see why.

What is surprising is that 15% of the respondents still rate Pakistan's contribution as positive in the BBC poll in spite of the extremely negative western media portrayal of Pakistan in both the news coverage and movies. And India is just 4 places ahead of Pakistan with 34% rating its contribution as positive.

This changing list of "bad guys" in the past has included Japan, Germany, Russia, Iraq, Vietnam, China, etc. etc. who dared to cross Uncle Sam.

Their image improved as the US made peace with them and the US media and entertainment bosses took its cue from the American establishment and replaced these names with others chosen by US policymakers.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 20, 2013 at 7:05pm

Recent studies have suggested that India’s traditional caste system remains surprisingly intact despite the country’s economic surge. A 2011 report, for instance, found that in “40 percent of the schools across sample districts in Uttar Pradesh—India’s most populous state, with 199 million people—teachers and students refuse to partake of government-sponsored free midday meals because they are cooked by dalits (once known as untouchables).” It's also certainly still a factor in the country's politics, as shown by the emergence of the controversial Dalit politician Mayawati.

But when did the caste system actually begin? One team of researchers believes the country’s genetic history holds the key. In a recent paper published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from Harvard, MIT, and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad assembled what they call the “most comprehensive sampling of Indian genetic variation to date,” using samples collected from 571 individuals belonging to 73 “well-defined ethno-linguistic groups.” The data allowed the authors to trace not just the genetic mixture between these groups but how long ago this mixture occurred.

Five thousand years ago, the ancestors of modern Indians were comprised primarily of two groups: ancestral North Indians, who related to people of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Europe, and ancestral South Indians, who are not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent. The mixture between these two groups and their many subcategories happened mostly between 4,200 and 1,900 years ago, according to the study. The authors note that this period is significant as it was a "time of profound change in India, characterized by the deurbanization of the Indus civilization, increasing population density in the central and downstream portions of the Gangetic system, shifts in burial practices, and the likely first appearance of Indo-European languages and Vedic religion in the subcontinent.” 

Around 1,900 years ago, the mixture largely stopped, as Indian society moved toward endogamy—the practice of avoiding intermarriage or close relationships between ethnic groups—which reached its most extreme form in the creation of the caste system. As one of the study’s authors told the Times of India, "the present-day structure of the caste system came into being only relatively recently in Indian history."

 How long it will last into the future is another question. 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/08/20/origins_of_india_s...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 4, 2013 at 6:39pm

Here's an African-American student's sharing his experience of racism in India:

In spite of friendship and love in private spaces, the Delhi public literally stops and stares. It is harrowing to constantly have children and adults tease, taunt, pick, poke and peer at you from the corner of their eyes, denying their own humanity as well as mine. Their aggressive, crude curiosity threatens to dominate unless disarmed by kindness, or met with equal aggression.
Once I stood gazing at the giraffes at the Lucknow Zoo only to turn and see 50-odd families gawking at me rather than the exhibit. Parents abruptly withdrew infants that inquisitively wandered towards me. I felt like an exotic African creature-cum-spectacle, stirring fear and awe. Even my attempts to beguile the public through simple greetings or smiles are often not reciprocated. Instead, the look of wonder swells as if this were all part of the act and we were all playing our parts.

Racism is never a personal experience. Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes this lawlessness and disdain for dark skin. Most Indian pop icons have light-damn-near-white skin. Several stars even promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s popularity and career success. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, v. fair and v. very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees. Moreover, each time I visit one of Delhi’s clubhouses, I notice that I am the darkest person not wearing a work uniform. It’s unfair and ugly.

Discrimination in Delhi surpasses the denial of courtesy. I have been denied visas, apartments, entrance to discos, attentiveness, kindness and the benefit of doubt. Further, the lack of neighbourliness exceeds what locals describe as normal for a capital already known for its coldness.

My partner is white and I am black, facts of which the Indian public reminds us daily. Bank associates have denied me chai, while falling over to please my white friend. Mall shop attendants have denied me attentiveness, while mobbing my partner. Who knows what else is more quietly denied?

"An African has come," a guard announced over the intercom as I showed up. Whites are afforded the luxury of their own names, but this careful attention to my presence was not new. ATM guards stand and salute my white friend, while one guard actually asked me why I had come to the bank machine as if I might have said that I was taking over his shift.

It is shocking that people wear liberalism as a sign of modernity, yet revert to ultraconservatism when actually faced with difference. Cyberbullies have threatened my life on my YouTube videos that capture local gawking and eve-teasing. I was even fired from an international school for talking about homosociality in Africa on YouTube, and addressing a class about homophobia against kids after a student called me a ‘fag’.

Outside of specific anchors of discourse such as Reservations, there is no consensus that discrimination is a redeemable social ill. This is the real issue with discrimination in India: her own citizens suffer and we are only encouraged to ignore situations that make us all feel powerless. Be it the mute-witnesses seeing racial difference for the first time, kids learning racism from their folks, or the blacks and northeasterners who feel victimised by the public, few operate from a position that believes in change.

Living in India was a childhood dream that deepened with my growing understanding of India and America’s unique, shared history of non-violent revolution. Yet, in most nations, the path of ending gender, race and class discrimination is unpaved. In India, this path is still rural and rocky as if this nation has not decided the road even worthy. It is a footpath that we are left to tread individually.

http://m.outlookindia.com/story.aspx?sid=4&aid=250317

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 18, 2013 at 8:14am

In a nutshell, what Indians are saying (many openly and some with chagrin) is that (Miss USA Nina) Davuluri is too dark, too dusky, for the conventional standards of Indian beauty. In India a light skin—“fair” is the word most Indians deploy in the vocabulary of beauty—is prized in women, and lightness of skin is elevated above all other facial features as a signifier of beauty. It matters not one whit that Davuluri’s physiognomy is immensely pleasing to the eye, that her smile could light up a small cricket stadium, that her lustrous hair is a thing to marvel at, because her epidermis is far too many shades removed from “fairness” for her to be considered beautiful. This matter is, in the Indian dialectic of beauty, nonnegotiable. In matters of pigment, Indians can be as dogmatic as party chieftains once were in Stalin’s Moscow.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/17/miss-america-meet-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 18, 2013 at 8:40am

That gorgeous chocolate (skin tone of Ms USA Nina Davuluri) may play as exotic in the West, but in India, we prefer our beauty queens strictly vanilla — preferably accessorised with blue contact lenses....God forbid, we compromise our cultural biases just to win an international beauty contest.

http://www.firstpost.com/living/miss-america-nina-davuluri-too-indi...

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 3, 2014 at 7:25am

Here's an Indian Express report on racism against North Eastern people living in Delhi:

Various groups representing the people from the Northeast protested the death of 19-year-old Nido Taniam who was beaten to death allegedly by shopkeepers in Lajpat Nagar.
Members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, held protests outside the Lajpat Nagar police station, demanding arrest of the accused persons who allegedly beat the student and made comments about his appearance.
ABVP spokesperson Saket Bahuguna said, “We stopped the DCP’s car outside the Lajpat Nagar police station. We demand the immediate arrest of the accused persons.”
Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, Takam Sanjoy, also demanded the immediate arrest and trial of the accused persons.
Calling for strong action against the perpetrators, the Northeast Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) in their official release said, “Such incidents reflect a dangerous trend of racism and also growing vigilantism in the city that targets vulnerable minority groups.”
The death evoked strong reactions from other groups in his home state as well as across the Northeastern region.
“It is yet another proof of how people from some other regions of the country look at those from the Northeastern region. Our people are looked down upon, given second-class treatment and discriminated against, especially in North India,” Pritam Sonam, advisor of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) from Itanagar, alleged.
In Guwahati, advisor to North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), Samujjal Bhattacharyya, blamed the Centre as well as the Delhi administration for the murder of the student.
“Not a single accused has been booked even after days of the attack on Nido Taniam. We demand a speedy investigation and fast-track trial of the crime leading to the death of a student in the national capital,” he said.
Bhattacharyya also recalled that the Prime Minister had given a written assurance to NESO regarding protection of students who came to the capital from the Northeast.
“This incident has happened despite a personal and written commitment made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh two years ago to NESO that steps would be taken to ensure protection of students and youth of the Northeast. We have not seen any proactive measure taken by the government despite the Prime Minister’s commitment,” Bhattacharyya said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/those-from-northeast-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 15, 2015 at 6:28am

Thenmozhi Soundararajan: fighting the #Dalit women's fight with, activism #dalitwomenfight #India #racism #caste http://gu.com/p/46hz6/stw

With fists in the air and placards in hand, women who have been raped, burned, stripped naked and set on fire have gathered around India to demand that their government acknowledge the crimes committed against them and work to stop other women from facing the same fate.

They are also fighting for their ancestors, who were deemed untouchable before the government abolished the use of the term in 1949.

Many of these Dalit women lack the resources for efficient telecommunication, so they gather in districts near the statue of BR Ambedkar, a legendary Indian politician and former Dalit leader. Police are often nearby, including officers who the women believe are ignoring their rape accusations and sometimes abetting them.

With these women – taking their photo, supporting their stories and spreading their message to the rest of the world – is Dalit-American artist Thenmozhi Soundararajan. She is a transmedia artist, which means she creates and translates stories across platforms. It also means that for her, everything about the #Dalitwomenfight movement – from social media posts to professional photography to security training for its participants – is an art form. .........................

Soundararajan believes the sexual violence inflicted on Dalit women underlies a systemic issue with how women in the country are treated. “If you have 80 million to 100 million women whose bodies are porous to this violence, then what is going to be expected to the rest of the status of women in the nation?” she said.

India’s reluctance to address its issues with sexual violence was made clear to an international audience in recent weeks when the country banned the documentary India’s Daughter – which examines the gang rape of an Indian national in Delhi . Soundararajan’s work is meant to extend the conversation beyond the rare case that attracts international attention and show how caste-based rape impacts the entire country’s attitude towards sexual violence.

“There is this aimless conversation about rape in India and somehow Indian men are just more sexist and patriarchal, and it’s not about individual cases and individual localities and perpetrators that are out of control,” she said. “What we’re looking at actually is a system where the rule of law is not being implemented for all.”

With fists in the air and placards in hand, women who have been raped, burned, stripped naked and set on fire have gathered around India to demand that their government acknowledge the crimes committed against them and work to stop other women from facing the same fate.

They are also fighting for their ancestors, who were deemed untouchable before the government abolished the use of the term in 1949.

Many of these Dalit women lack the resources for efficient telecommunication, so they gather in districts near the statue of BR Ambedkar, a legendary Indian politician and former Dalit leader. Police are often nearby, including officers who the women believe are ignoring their rape accusations and sometimes abetting them.

With these women – taking their photo, supporting their stories and spreading their message to the rest of the world – is Dalit-American artist Thenmozhi Soundararajan. She is a transmedia artist, which means she creates and translates stories across platforms. It also means that for her, everything about the#Dalitwomenfight movement – from social media posts to professional photography to security training for its participants – is an art form. 

“There are so many traditions of art as healing, art as investigation, art as inquiry, and all of those also mean art as social justice and art as self-determination,” Soundararajan told the Guardian.

Her work is backed by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, which last week announced that she is part of its inaugural class of Artist as Activist fellows. The fellowship is one of an increasing amount of grants that backs people who blur the lines between engaging with people through art and engaging with people through activism.

Risë Wilson, Rauschenberg’s director of philanthropy, said it can be hard for artists who work on activist projects to find professional support because they are not aligned with one type of engagement, so they slip through the cracks.

But there are increasing amounts of grant programs for the genre and universities have introduced programs in art and activism, which give the concentration a more professionalized look. New York University offers a masters in Arts Politicsand Rutgers University held a prison arts and activism conference in October. “I don’t think enough is known about this way of working,” said Wilson. “It’s not new, but the energy around it is.”

Thenmozi.

Pinterest

 ‘It’s the nature of making art today to be engaged.’ Photograph: Thenmozhi Soundararajan

Soundararajan agrees and attributes this new energy to the increasingly networked world, which plays a role in her work to put the voices of Dalit women in one place. “It’s the nature of making art today to be engaged – connecting audiences and reproducing that experience in a kind of spiraling process,” Soundararajan said.

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She is going to use the foundation money to close a documentary on #Dalitwomenfight, to finish an art exhibit on the movement and continue to speak about the issues at events around the world. The funds will also help for more practical activism, such as communications and security training workshops for Dalit women.

The movement brings victims of sexual violence and their supporters to “atrocity-prone” areas, where they confront perpetrators, comfort other survivors, hold mass rallies and call out public officials that are not taking action on cases.

While it may look like straightforward activism, Soundararajan pulls from her training as an artist to further the women’s narrative and connect people to these traumatic experiences. Soundararajan is still shaken by a video of a gang rape she watched during a session with other members of the movement about evidence. She said the video was recorded on a mobile phone and distributed through the district to shame the victim. What surprised her most was how banal the image seemed. “We’re so used to dramatic visions of violence, we’re not really prepared as a culture for what real violence looks like,” said Soundararajan.

“As a creator who is making images, making film, making content in that work – you find that real violence is far more disturbing than people really understand,” Soundararajan said. “And when you use art to work in that realm, you have to know what you’re wading into and give yourself and your collaborators time to grieve.”

She believes that violence is meant to destroy meaning and break down how people understand themselves. “So when you start to use art to create in this context, you are rebuilding the bridge of meaning,” she said. “You are constructing a narrative of grace – whatever is happening, I can transcend it.”

Thenmozi. The artist, Thenmozhi Soundararajan. Photograph: Thenmozi.

Soundararajan believes the sexual violence inflicted on Dalit women underlies a systemic issue with how women in the country are treated. “If you have 80 million to 100 million women whose bodies are porous to this violence, then what is going to be expected to the rest of the status of women in the nation?” she said.

India’s reluctance to address its issues with sexual violence was made clear to an international audience in recent weeks when the country banned the documentary India’s Daughter – which examines the gang rape of an Indian national in Delhi . Soundararajan’s work is meant to extend the conversation beyond the rare case that attracts international attention and show how caste-based rape impacts the entire country’s attitude towards sexual violence.

“There is this aimless conversation about rape in India and somehow Indian men are just more sexist and patriarchal, and it’s not about individual cases and individual localities and perpetrators that are out of control,” she said. “What we’re looking at actually is a system where the rule of law is not being implemented for all.”

Along with the insufficient response to rape cases, Soundararajan is concerned about the status of the Indian activists and organizations that back the movement like her collaborators, the All India Dalit Women’s Rights Forum. Foreign-owned NGOs have faced increased scrutiny since Narendra Modi took over as prime minister in May. Environmental groups like Greenpeace say they have been targeted by the administration. Meanwhile, the International Dalit Solidarity Network is in its eighth year of waiting to get UN consultative status.

Soundararajan said these and other limits force creativity, but they have also led her to take precautions with her identity. She has worked anonymously in the past to avoid being blacklisted by the government, but now that she is a Rauschenberg fellow, she has decided to not self-censor to take a more firm stance about what’s happening in the country.

“A lot of times when people talk about the caste system, they talk about it being one of the oldest systems of repression in the world,” she said. “But I also like to talk about the fact that that means Dalit movements are one of the oldest resistance movements in the world.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/12/thenmozhi-soundararaja...

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 18, 2015 at 8:14am

Little girls bear the brunt in #India's vicious cycle of malnutrition. Half are stunted #gendergap http://reut.rs/1N5dPEz via @ReutersIndia
Despite India's economic boom over the last two decades, 46 percent of its children under five are underweight, 48 percent are stunted and 25 percent are wasted, according to the latest government figures.

Child malnutrition is an underlying cause of death for 3 million children annually across the world - nearly half of all child deaths - with most dying from preventable illnesses like diarrhoea due to weak immune systems, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.

Those lucky enough to survive, grow up without enough energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, causing their brains and bodies to be stunted which means they cannot fulfill their physical, academic or economic potential.

The problem of malnutrition starts well before birth in countries such as India, where there are high rates of child marriage, despite the age-old practice being illegal.

About 47 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18 in India, according to the latest government figures.

The custom hampers efforts to improve women's status, as it cuts across every part of a girl's development and creates a vicious cycle of malnutrition, poor health and ignorance, gender experts say.

A child bride is more likely to drop out of school and have serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Her children are more likely to be underweight and may be lucky to survive beyond the age of five.

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