India is home to 230 million untouchable (low-caste) Hindus. Another 30 million live around the world – many of them converted to Islam and Christianity to escape Hindu caste system. Late Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is quoted saying: Hinduism is not a religion; it is a disease.
Last month, Indian-American Sujatha Gidla, published her memoir, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India.
In her stirring memoir, Gidla, who is the first woman conductor of the New York subway, chronicles how her family challenged the Indian repressive social system through education, largely through converting to Christianity and her move to the United States.
Gidla was born in a small town of Khazipet in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to a lower-middle class family. She was lucky her parents were educated and could afford to send her to school.
“Outcastes, a lot of times think that education is the only way out. That’s how we got educated,” she said.
For those belonging to the lower caste in India, converting to another religion is seen as the only way out from the dungeons of Hindu caste system.
“I set out to write the book only to find my family’s conversion to Christianity. But I ended up writing a lot about my uncle and what he did like confronting police, hiding comrades. This could make a very good Hollywood movie, except they were Maoists (communists),” Gidla said.
Indian journalist Suraj Yengde compared Hindu ‘untouchables’ to Jews in the Christian Europe (The Indian Express, January 20, 2016) which is not true as Jewish elites had always controlled European economy, media and had collaborated with European fascists such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
70 years ago India got its independence from British Crown. The country spends more money (US$53.5 billion) on its army to bully its neighbors than erasing poverty and religious racism among its citizens.