Amanda G. Utah

Done with Dalit Discrimination

America needs to step in to help Dalits over in India who are suffering from discrimination due to India's caste system.

Dear President,

America has had a rough go in the past in terms of slavery. Slavery used to be a big part of how our country was run. However, thanks to the Civil War and constitutional amendments, America was able to abolish slavery. Now over in India, a group of citizens called Dalits are struggling with discrimination and prejudices just like the slaves did. Many Dalits, especially women, are forced into labor making it very difficult for Dalits to live in India. Because of America’s past with slavery, America needs to assist India in getting out of caste discrimination--specifically discrimination against Dalits.

In India and several other places in the world, Dalits--people who belong to the lowest caste in India--are a widely discriminated group of people. They have been considered the lowest of the low ever since the making of the caste system in India. Although it is now illegal, the practice of untouchability is still within India’s heart.

Being a Dalit means that life is difficult. Dalits are forced to do menial tasks such as skinning dead cows, sanitation jobs, manual scavenging, and other demeaning jobs. Dalit women have an especially hard time because they “ in modern slavery and are key targets for trafficking,” (Dalit Women - International Dalit Solidarity Network). But regardless of gender, both male and female Dalits don’t have the privileges that other citizens in India do. They both have an onerous time getting an education and legal help when it comes to crimes committed against them.

Many crimes are committed against Dalits and a large percentage of these crimes are left unreported or no action is taken for crimes that are reported. “In India, studies show that the conviction rate for rapes against Dalit women is under 2% compared to a conviction rate of 25% in rape cases against all women in India” (Dalit Women - International Dalit Solidarity Network). It is estimated that over 20 crimes are committed against Dalits on a daily basis.

America may not be responsible for the wrong doings that are committed against Dalits over in India, but because of America’s history with slavery and Dalits asking for international help, America could help Dalits immensely. America has helped other countries when they have been struggling and this is no different. There are over 200 million Dalits who are just waiting for some much needed assistance that America could aid them with.

It’s true that it is not technically America’s job to fix the caste discrimination problem over in India, but Dalits deserve basic human rights and they need assistance to get them. America needs to care about this issue because India isn’t fixing the problem and other countries aren’t stepping in to help. In America we have homeless problems, people don’t have jobs, and some people are starving. We can see here in America how things aren’t exactly where they should be and people are suffering because of this. I have seen this myself and it saddens me because humans shouldn’t need to suffer. But it’s only worse down in India for Dalits than it is here in America for American citizens.

Like Ronald Reagan’s speech in Berlin, Tear Down this Wall, a great first step in helping Dalits would be for America’s president to speak in India. Ronald Reagan’s speech assisted in the tearing down of the Berlin Wall because he expressed the importance of tearing down the wall and uniting Berlin citizens. Likewise, if a speech was given in India about the importance of abolishing caste discrimination towards Dalits, it would be the beginning of reforming India.

America could also set up ways to help Dalits that wouldn’t necessarily include a speech. America has set up things for people in the past, and they could do that today. America has helped other countries who are struggling with having enough food and we have sent economic aid in addition to food. We helped rebuild both Japan and Europe after World War II because they were struggling. Just now The United Nations, which includes the United States, is working to set up places for refugees to go. Yes, setting up something for refugees will take a couple years, but it will be worth the time. Dalits are also worth the time. Given a few years if certain plans are set up, the lifestyle of a Dalit could greatly improve.

Because of the remnants of India’s caste discrimination, Dalits are continuing to suffer from prejudices. Dalits cannot overcome this on their own. America needs to step in because Dalits have asked for international help and they aren’t receiving the help that they need. With America’s history dealing with slavery, we have been given insight into a similar issue which helps America have a better perspective on what Dalits are facing in their own country. We can use this knowledge and experience to help those Dalits who are suffering over in India by getting involved with this issue.

Spanish Fork High School

AP Language 16-17

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