Seeds: India’s caste systems have resulted in protests and conflicts for decades. Even though laws prohibited discrimination based on caste in 1950, their legacies remain. The social castes created political parties to further their ideas, people married into families of the same caste, and businesses were formed around them. In history, certain groups were disadvantaged, and for that reason, the government set up quotas systems for government jobs and university seats (think affirmative action in the US). These quotas often fuel contention, leading to protests that cause more problems than they solve.
Core: Several protests took place within the last week led by the Jat community, who are demanding a place similar to the more underprivileged castes in India’s quota systems. As a part of their protests, the Jats took control of the Munak canal, making 570 million gallons of water unusable for millions of civilians. As a result, there is a huge water crisis in New Delhi that left 10 million people without tap water for over 24 hours and 18 dead. Those who could afford purchasing water did so, but thousands waited in the street for help from aid trucks.
Skin: Because, for many, India is still considered a developing country, when many people hear of the horrible conditions, they are not surprised. Instead of prompting outrage for the millions of people without water, news and media push this story to the back pages. If 100 people go without clean water for a day in a developed country, it becomes international outrage. What makes one group of peoples’ lives more valuable or more significant than another?
Leaves: According to India’s industry of Urban Development, 70% of Delhi only receives 3 hours of running water per day. Some receive less than this, and the little water they do receive is horribly contaminated. As of now, it is unclear when the city’s water service will return to normal.
Food For Thought: Do you think that the caste system in India should be addressed? Do you think that the quotas, similar to the United States affirmative action, are moral? Do you think that the lack of attention on developing countries is a statement about the international community’s perception of their worth? Tell us what you think.
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