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February 3, 2010
Worldfocus Radio: Future of Caste in India

A statue of Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar. Photo: Ben Piven

Caste has existed in India for over 3 millennia, and many people view caste – in addition to curry and the Taj Mahal – as one of India’s defining features.

With several thousand castes that each contain sub-castes and even smaller groups, the system varies according to geography and language.

Last week, India commemorated the 60th birthday of its Constitution, which banned untouchability.

The show focuses on:

  • Cultural background: Upper/lower castes, Urban/rural differences, & discrimination
  • Politics: reservation system, reverse casteism, & Dalit political party
  • Big picture/U.S.: Dalit diaspora, parallels with black Americans, anti-racism movement

Joining Martin Savidge to discuss caste in India are Vivek Kumar and Corey Washington.


Vivek Kumar is a sociologist at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. His areas of specialization are social stratification, Dalit movements and the Indian diaspora.

Corey Washington is a PhD student at Columbia University in New York. He is currently producing two documentaries about caste in rural areas of the Indian states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Worldfocus Signature stories reported by Martin Himel — India’s untouchables trudge through sewers and One woman fights for members of India’s lowest casteexplore the lives of Indians who perform degrading caste-based occupations.


1 comment


I left India when i was 13 years old and i came to America in 8-8-88 to have and live better healthier life. Last time i visited India in Aug 2008 because my grandmother past way and went to my town where i grow up. I couldn’t believe my eyes it’s worst then when i left it 20 years ago. 15min road ride took as over an hour. The contractors in India gives bribery money to head of town N gets signatures that they fixed the roads and collects monies from government. If someone kills anyone and they pay police $100 and the police lets him go. The whole India is Corrupted. The reason India is corrupted because the palliations, government and prime minister of India is uneducated and they all are CORRUPTED. They all steal who ever can get their hand on most money. Then they leave the monies in bank in Switzerland, Dubai and other banks in other countries so no one knows. My Guru she’s spiritual healer, she’s blessed with 3rd eye from God. She cures all illness for all the people here in New York. she said they all thieves and at the end they going to die with cancer or in accidents because they did bad Karm’s. From My pay check i give one percent to her so when she goes to India she gives to Blinds and poor’s. my other one percent goes to temple here and one more percent i buy toys for my nieces. My Guru She said i don’t know how India is running but god is making it run. This uneducated thugs fools robs poor people n gives bribery to parties and become leaders. When prices roused for food and groceries n people complained, they said wait for rain and its going to grow lots of foods and it will come down automatically. They don’t want poor people to be educated. The whole India is defecture country. There is no water, electricity, sewer system, filthy bus stations and buses. The buses are very dirty. Lots of people throw up in there because they so filthy and dusty. The DUMB government never washes them. Lot’s of pollution every where you go, you can’t breathe. Gas prices are so high so people mix Kerosene in to gasoline. That creates lots of pollution black smoke. They are killing the planet fast then any where else. Someone need to take step. There are lots of jobs out there that can be created easily. people are suffering starving and lower cast are not working for years. Well i hope this would change one day. In Hindu holy books its written that god took birth as Krishna, after Krishna he took birth as Buddha birth, after that he’s going to take birth in lowest cast system in 2012 called Kalki birth to end cast system and racism all around the world and treat everyone same. And he’s also going to fix this global warming and end the evil around the world. So something’s in world god meant to change it when the time comes. For Untouchables we can’t do nothing they were cursed years ago and god have to come free them so let’s just wait and see and pray for them.

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