12 October 2008

Brave New India

If you are even a little interested in India and her politics, there's a great piece on ZNet by Arundhati Roy. She's written a lot about other cultural influences on her country, and her discussion of the current situation is saddening but spot-on (at least as far as I can see.)
There was recently a man called Bant Singh, who is a Sikh Dalit. Even in India people would jump at the idea of there being such a thing as a Sikh Dalit. But, actually, 30 percent of Sikhs are Dalits and about 90 percent of them are landless. Because they are landless, obviously they work as labor on other people's farms. Their women are very vulnerable. Upper castes all over India think that they have the right to pick up a Dalit woman and have sex with her or rape her. Bant Singh's young daughter was raped by the upper-caste people in his village. Bant Singh was a member of the CPI (ML), which is the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), known as Naxalites, and he filed a case in court. They warned him. They said, "If you don't drop the case, we will kill you." He didn't drop the case, so they caught him and they cut off his arms and his legs.

He was in the hospital in Delhi. I went to see him there. It was a lesson to me about how being a political person saved him. He said, "Do you think I don't have arms and legs? I do. Because all my comrades are my arms and legs." He's a singer, so he sang a song about a young girl's father getting her dowry ready for her just before her marriage, her trousseau. And she says to him, "I don't want this sari and these jewels. What will I do with them? Just give me a gun." Unfortunately, more and more, because of, I think, what happened with the Narmada movement and the fact that that nonviolent movement, where people fought for fifteen years and were just flicked aside like chaff, that has resulted in a lot of people saying, "I don't want the bangles, I don't want Gandhi. Just give me a gun."
Check it out.

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