Indian leader likens caste system to apartheid regime

By Maseeh Rahman, The Guardian UK
December 28, 2006

IndiansIndian prime minister Manmohan Singh became the first leader of his country yesterday to compare the condition of low-caste Hindus with that of black South Africans under apartheid.

Mr Singh drew the parallel at a conference in New Delhi on social and caste injustices saying it was modern India’s failure that millions of Dalits (meaning “oppressed”) were still fighting prejudice.

“Even after 60 years of constitutional and legal protection and support, there is still social discrimination against Dalits in many parts of our country,” Mr Singh said.

“Dalits have faced a unique discrimination in our society that is fundamentally different from the problems of minority groups in general. The only parallel to the practice of untouchability was apartheid.”

By raising the spectre of apartheid the prime minister has publicly repudiated the stand taken by the previous BJP-led government.
Full Article : guardian.co.uk

2 Responses to “Indian leader likens caste system to apartheid regime”


  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, A Sikh, is to be commended for exposing the hypocritical heirachical system of inherited social class, which is the exact opposite of the democracy that official India says it upholds.

    Mr. Singh is himself a member of a minority group, by virtue of his religion, and came to power because of Indian racism in India, which refused to recognize Sonia Gandhi as a possible leader of the country, after her Congress Party swept the BJP from office. Sonia, Rajiv’s widow, and daughter in law of Indira, is Italian, but had lived in India since Rajiv went home from his studies in England. She has two Indian children, but rather than have the party torn apart by internal strife, she appointed Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

    There is, in our western perception, the India of fantasy, and there is the India of reality. The reality is that millions of people are kept in brutal poverty, due to the social status into which they were born.
    Most of the Dalits are from South India, where their blood has been mixed with African blood during the migrations of African people southeast towards Australia. The Indians who live on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are even more discriminated against. During the devastation of the 2004 Tsunami, these islands were very badly hit, but relief was not allowed to go directly to them. The Indian Navy patrolled the waters around the islands to “protect its installations”. Most peiole believe that the real reason was to cover up the fact that these people are kept in a desperate state and are not allowed to migrate to the Indian mainland. If they were taken off the islands by international relief agencies, the natural place t wantto put them would be mainland India, their “Mother Country” They are “douglas”, and mainland India wants none of them.

    There is much to be done to clear up the discrimination traditionally practiced by India, including debt slavery; but alas, I do not think Mr. Manmohan Singh will last long. I bless his name for his willingness to expose the dirty undergarments of the sub-continent’s racism.

  • Linda, when you have some time, read the July 1975 issue of National Geographic, there is an article, “The Last Andaman Islanders.” You will see that the Adaman Islanders are protected by the Indian gov’t and some of them even attack government workers and navy vessles and crew when they land to drop supplies for them. (Of course their use bows and arrows are not match for modern technology). Those prefer to live seperate from others because they only know outsiders to do one thing – abduct them for slave labour (they have a strong oral tradition so they know of european slavers).

    At the same time, other tribes have opened up to outsiders and have intermarried. In fact, there is only 1 tibe left today that is of the original “nigrito” decendents who settled those islands. In the Nicobars, anyone looking at the natives will think they are either indian or indo-chinese due to inter-marrying. So while the caste system encourages racism, this is not the case in the Adnaman or Nicobar islands. Many Nicobarese and Andamans were evacuated to the mainland until their homes were rebuilt. The true tribals were not evacuated because the refused to leave (possibly thinking there were sinister motives such as loosing their lands) but they didn’t need evacuation as they somehow knew of the tsunami in advance and left the costal areas long in advance (perhaps due to oral tradition handed down and a connection with nature which allowed them to follow animals sensitive to such events inland).

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