Writing about caste in India often generates a heated response, and “India’s Boom Creates Openings for Untouchables,” a recent article in The New York Times about successful Dalit, or “untouchable,” entrepreneurs, was no exception. Readers weighed in on social mobility in India today and the role caste continues to play in the country, often in stark and argumentative terms. “We Indians are the biggest racists,” wrote Paul George from India in the comment other readers recommended most. “We discriminate on the basis of caste,colour, religion, north-south divide, you name it….Yes, money erases the caste and temple doors will open,” he wrote. “All the talk from Indians about Indian culture and religion amount to nothing but rubbish,” wrote Kalidan from New York. “There is no culture that I have seen or experienced, in which people treat each other with more contempt. Ask any Indian who flies Air India how they are treated.”
Others argued that the fact that Ashok Khade, the main businessman in the article, was able to transform himself from poverty-stricken child to millionaire businessman was inspiring proof that the system is improving. “It is very important to credit the Indian government for putting in place the world’s largest affirmative action system early on to tackle this enormous problem,” wrote Dhakai Porotha from Boston, Mass. That system has been so successful that more people want in, the Wall Street Journal reported recently.The number of so-called “backward classes” in India has almost doubled since 1993, the Wall Street Journal reported, increasing the number of people “that are entitled to 27% of central-government jobs and university admissions, and a varying proportion of state jobs.”
Government help is no longer needed, a few readers of The New York Times said. “If this is the golden period for Dalits then why do they still need reservation in government jobs and education?,” writes Sapan Kapoor from India. “Reservation has done its job and now is the time to have a level playing field,” he said.