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NEWS: Shunned, Indias untouchables gather tsunami dead

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posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 12:29 AM
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Shunned by the upper castes, a lower class of Indian citizen is going about the grim work of clearing out rotting corpses. Locals are too afraid of disease and simply watch from afar as the untouchable caste cleans up their city. The reward for doing this necessary task is an extra 50 cents a day and a free meal.

 



story.news.yahoo.com
NAGAPATTINAM, India (Reuters) - They are the "untouchables"; the lowest of the low in India's ancient caste system. No job is too dirty or too nasty, and they are the ones cleaning up the rotting corpses from last week's killer tsunami.

The overwhelming majority of the 1,000 or so men sweating away in the tropical heat to clear the poor south Indian fishing town of Nagapattinam, which bore the brunt of the giant wave, are lower caste dalits from neighbouring villages.

Locals too afraid of disease and too sickened by the smell refuse to join the grim task of digging friends and neighbours out of the sand and debris. They just stand and watch the dalits work.

Although it has been a week since the tsunami hit, and the destruction was confined to a tiny strip by the beach and port, the devastation was so fierce that several bodies -- located by the stench and the flies -- are still being discovered daily.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


I knew that India still had a caste system, but I did not realize the extent to which it is used. How many of us would work to clear our own cities? Try to find family members? Remember 911? We had firemen from all over the United States and Police as well digging at ground zero. Everybody pitched in poor and rich alike. Perhaps a lesson could be learned by that.


[edit on 3-1-2005 by Banshee]




posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 01:27 AM
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and very sad. These people perform jobs that no one else will, yet they are still reviled. I wonder how one can sit by and wait for word on their loved ones and not attempt to search themselves. Or attempt to help restore their cities and villages. To just sit back and wait seems to show a lack of compassion or care. I saw this in the article:


Over 16 percent of India's billion plus people are dalits. Despite laws banning caste discrimination, they are still routinely abused, mistreated and even killed. They do the jobs others won't -- they clean toilets, they collect garbage, they skin cows.

For Mohan, illiterate, uneducated and low caste, the only way to get a government job and the security and pension that come with it, was as a municipal sanitation worker.


Couple of questions for those in the know.

Is an Indian's caste determined by wealth or blood or education?
Can an individual change their status if they become educated or becomes a sucessful businessman?


B.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 02:17 AM
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Your caste is determined by birth, and technically cannot be changed. The plan is to be reborn into a higher caste. In reality though, there are a few ways around it. You can either become extremely wealthy and buy your way in, or you can legally change your name to one of a better caste, and then move somewhere where noone knows you.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 02:24 AM
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It's a culture, I wouldn't go so far as to demonize their system when we have a very similar one ehre in the US, here we call them 'bums' or 'working class'. If something similar happened here it would be the same ole same ole, I don't think Donald Trump or George Bush (for examples) would be dragging bodies out of the muck.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 03:01 AM
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Twitchy
Good observation, and I would say it's common sense, but as my girlfriend says, "common sense isn't so common anymore." Many people don't perceive the situation in America as being bad or broken, and I would reckon most of those same ignorant people would look at India's caste system and scoff, full of scorn without realizing the similarity.


FredT
Another great story found, thank you for bringing it to the discussion.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 09:54 PM
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Originally posted by Bleys
and very sad. These people perform jobs that no one else will, yet they are still reviled. I wonder how one can sit by and wait for word on their loved ones and not attempt to search themselves. Or attempt to help restore their cities and villages. To just sit back and wait seems to show a lack of compassion or care.


I think the police closed off those areas. So even if I wanted to look for someone, I wouldn't be allowed to.

It is sad how it is incredibly easy it is to sit off thousands of miles away from India and talk of them lacking compassion and care. Maybe you should go there and see for yourselves the compassion and care. Or are you too full of supremacy crap to do so?



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 09:59 PM
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What an excellent post
I have to agree with the above comments that the "dirty" work is usually left up to those lower in the "food chain". Not always, but I'd reckon we'd see hell freeze over before we seen Queen Lizzy or Prince Phil or Chuck out there cleaning up dead bodies & the mess that was left after the tsunami struck.

[edit on 3-1-2005 by Figjam]



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 10:10 PM
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surfup

You're way off base. We're not sitting here at our computers because we don't want to be around all those icky bodies, we're sitting at our computers because we live half a world away from the affected area, and have no control over the events. We can only grasp at threads in our effort to understand, but at least we make the effort, at least we recognize the value of knowledge. I can tell you one thing, if that happened in my neighborhood, I wouldn't be sitting at the computer. I don't think I'm alone on this.

Here's the harsh reality, we're alive. We have the undesirable task of assessing the situation and talking about what changes can be made, while sharing news and information so that we can all be better informed. You really shouldn't fight against knowledge, it will own you.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 10:15 PM
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If the Tsunami ht the US coast, I'm sure your rich and wealthy would not be helping to clean up themselves... it would be the poor, working at low wages who would be doing it... I really dont see the difference... the system is unfair, but its the same all over the world... its just hidden in western culture.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 10:18 PM
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Originally posted by WyrdeOne
surfup

You're way off base. We're not sitting here at our computers because we don't want to be around all those icky bodies, we're sitting at our computers because we live half a world away from the affected area, and have no control over the events. We can only grasp at threads in our effort to understand, but at least we make the effort, at least we recognize the value of knowledge. I can tell you one thing, if that happened in my neighborhood, I wouldn't be sitting at the computer. I don't think I'm alone on this.
Here's the harsh reality, we're alive. We have the undesirable task of assessing the situation and talking about what changes can be made, while sharing news and information so that we can all be better informed. You really shouldn't fight against knowledge, it will own you.


Am I? We have supersonic jets. If you really wanted to help, granted that you had the money, I bet you can help out, at least donate money.

I will also tell you one thing people over there are helping out as much as possible. I am pretty sure those who are able to have pitched in. Bleys is almost saying that people who live nearby are just sitting there and playing PS2s while others are dying.

"Lacking compassion and care." Don't tell this isn't cold hearted.

I am fighting against knowledge, I am fighting against ignorance like those of Bleys.

Surf



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 10:41 PM
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Originally posted by specialasianX
If the Tsunami ht the US coast, I'm sure your rich and wealthy would not be helping to clean up themselves... it would be the poor, working at low wages who would be doing it... I really dont see the difference... the system is unfair, but its the same all over the world... its just hidden in western culture.


There is a group of mothers here in Houston that clean up the bloodstains from crime scenes. I'm not going to join them. It's my prerogative.

There is no reason for rich people to pull bodies off of a beach. Pulling bodies off a beach doesn't "show compassion," it puts some cash in a poor man's pocket. The owner of the beach doesn't want bodies all over it, so he pays whoever needs the money to clean them up.

Who cares if poor people retrieve bodies and rich people don't? Is this really an issue? Why should a rich person have to clean up some bodies? Do they "owe something to society" in your mind or something? Give me a break!



Zip



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 10:48 PM
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Originally posted by surfup
It is sad how it is incredibly easy it is to sit off thousands of miles away from India and talk of them lacking compassion and care. Maybe you should go there and see for yourselves the compassion and care. Or are you too full of supremacy crap to do so?


Awfully full of yourself aren't you?

My questions regarding the Indian caste system and the unwillingness of some to assist in the search and recovery were made based on the article that Fred posted. I was and remain genuinely shocked. From the article:


Locals too afraid of disease and too sickened by the smell refuse to join the grim task of digging friends and neighbours out of the sand and debris. They just stand and watch the dalits work.


Maybe you live in an area where people do not help one another out or maybe that is the kind of people you are exposed to - but it's not what I am used to. If someone - anyone - is in need, you help either physically or monetarily. Because this tragedy has taken place so far away the most I can offer is my money, which I have and my thoughts for those who have touched by it.

I find it difficult that people do not help each other in time of need regardless of their social standing. My disappointment in these people would be no different if it had happened in Europe or the United States.

B.



posted on Jan, 3 2005 @ 11:37 PM
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Originally posted by Bleys
Awfully full of yourself aren't you?


Look who is talking. Remember this is the same guy who called Indians uncompassionate and uncaring.


My questions regarding the Indian caste system and the unwillingness of some to assist in the search and recovery were made based on the article that Fred posted. I was and remain genuinely shocked. Locals too afraid of disease and too sickened by the smell refuse to join the grim task of digging friends and neighbours out of the sand and debris. They just stand and watch the dalits work.


Isn't that a biased article?


Maybe you live in an area where people do not help one another out or maybe that is the kind of people you are exposed to - but it's not what I am used to. If someone - anyone - is in need, you help either physically or monetarily. Because this tragedy has taken place so far away the most I can offer is my money, which I have and my thoughts for those who have touched by it.

I find it difficult that people do not help each other in time of need regardless of their social standing. My disappointment in these people would be no different if it had happened in Europe or the United States.


Is it just you or a lot of people in world who think that you guys are the moral bunch and the rest are all sadistic peoples.

What do you think we just let our friends rot off? It seems to me that you do think that.

This is the aftermath, more than 6 days have gone since this has happened. There are no hope of survivors. If you had been there couple of days ago you would have seen the same thing you "claim" to do when there is a disaster, searching for bodies.

The chance of finding someone alive now is now zero and all that is left are rotten bodies and torn down houses and other buildings. Not only are there deaths, but also injuries, most in the villages have been injured and are in hospitals and the rest have emigrated fearing another attack. So the clean up crews have do the job.

The difference between India and other places is that the clean up crews have another thing in common, they are untouchables. It is the same thing everywhere else, except in other places the people who do these job are just poor and don't have a name.

Not only the untouchables do these things, lot of volunteers helped getting the survivors out. Even high school children helped out cleaning out the bodies.

If you get the time why don't you visit India and ask some of the people what they did to help out. I am sure that will wipe out the sense that Indians are greedy selfish people from your ignorant mind of yours.

Surf



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 12:12 AM
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Originally posted by surfup
Isn't that a biased article?


The article is hardly biased. If anything, it went along way to show the plight of the untouchables. Are you actually defending the upper casts for not helping to did out thier dead? Would YOU wait untill a menial was avalible to try to check for survivors?



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 12:21 AM
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I really wanted to disagree with surfup but can't.

Untouchables or poor, not a lot of differences.

As to the 'rich' dragging bodies- why should they be expected to? Many do, but I can't see any expectation to do so as valid. They provide the money to pay for this horrid task and feed those who can't feed themselves.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 12:33 AM
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This really moves beyond that. A fw years back when we had some flooding, Palo Alto residents pitched in to help the poor and elderly. Most if able did not sit in thier homes and hired out some day laborers to pitch in they got thier hands dirty. Did I mention that the median home price in Palo Alto is in the 1,000,000 range?

The scope of this disaster moves way beyond class boundries as it were (or not in the case of this story) I can see if the upper chasts were actually doing something productive. However, standing around as if it were some bizzare spectator sport is a bit much:

Now comming to a village near you: "Live corpse extraction and cremation" staring "The Untouchables"



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 12:33 AM
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Originally posted by surfup
Is it just you or a lot of people in world who think that you guys are the moral bunch and the rest are all sadistic peoples.
*snip*
I am sure that will wipe out the sense that Indians are greedy selfish people from your ignorant mind of yours.

Surf


I feel so sorry for you. You have these ugly perceptions of the US and decided to attack me personally as a symbol of those perceptions.

My disappointment with the actions of some people (regardless of race or creed) is not an indictment of a people or a culture - it is simply disappointment, not hate, not disdain. I had a genuine interest in learning more about the caste system and in particular the dalits, but you obviously have a chip on your shoulder and chosen to take it out on me. You have painted me with the same brush that you believe I have painted the Indian culture with.

If you ever do decide to put away that condescending attitutude - I am still very interested in learning more about the culture.

B.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 12:39 AM
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Originally posted by Zipdot

Originally posted by specialasianX
If the Tsunami ht the US coast, I'm sure your rich and wealthy would not be helping to clean up themselves... it would be the poor, working at low wages who would be doing it... I really dont see the difference... the system is unfair, but its the same all over the world... its just hidden in western culture.


There is a group of mothers here in Houston that clean up the bloodstains from crime scenes. I'm not going to join them. It's my prerogative.

There is no reason for rich people to pull bodies off of a beach. Pulling bodies off a beach doesn't "show compassion," it puts some cash in a poor man's pocket. The owner of the beach doesn't want bodies all over it, so he pays whoever needs the money to clean them up.

Who cares if poor people retrieve bodies and rich people don't? Is this really an issue? Why should a rich person have to clean up some bodies? Do they "owe something to society" in your mind or something? Give me a break!



Zip




You completely missed the point of my post zip, I'm not saying the rich have to clean up, what i'm saying is the indian system is just the same as the way we work... its just we dont officially have castes.

In the case in question here, the poor are cleaning up the town for the locals who are watching them and paying them a measly wage... If it was the USA it would be the same, rich people wont clean their own suburb, or find their own relatives/friends, they'll pay some poor guy a crappy wage to do it for them coz they dont want to dirty their armani suits...

Your bound to say well the poor guy gets paid... yeah out of neccesity he'll do the job, but i'm sure he dont like the idea.



posted on Jan, 4 2005 @ 05:01 PM
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Originally posted by Bleys
I feel so sorry for you. You have these ugly perceptions of the US and decided to attack me personally as a symbol of those perceptions.


I am not even going to argue with this ridiculous statement of yours. Just because some guy in relation to me talks # about U.S., doesn't mean I do too. You accuse me of attacking you, while in reality you are the one that is doing all the attacking.


My disappointment with the actions of some people (regardless of race or creed) is not an indictment of a people or a culture - it is simply disappointment, not hate, not disdain. I had a genuine interest in learning more about the caste system and in particular the dalits, but you obviously have a chip on your shoulder and chosen to take it out on me. You have painted me with the same brush that you believe I have painted the Indian culture with.


I am glad you want to learn, I didn't get mad at you for that. I got mad because you called all those people uncompassionate and uncaring, while indicating that you are otherwise. I use you only in relation to you, the person Bleys. If you think that I use it against your country or people, I am not responsible for that.

While I an understand the disappointment, I don't agree with it. All around the world the dirty work is done by the poor, living at the bottom of social chain. In India these people have another name, untouchables. If this had happened when people were still alive, but stuck in debris, I would have been more disappointed. But it didn't.

Did you really expect people who were living in the neighborhood, rich and poor alike, would go in and dig for bodies? Just because they survived the intial attack, it doesn't mean they are immune to the aftermath. There is no pure water or food or a shelter to sleep in.

Would they care about taking care of themselves and their children and loved ones or try and look for death bodies, while leaving the alive loved one to die from starvation?

Surf




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