An article on dalit oppression in India from the Washington Post, via Going for Refuge.

Not so long ago, in the back of a tin-roofed restaurant, Ramu, a teenage dishwasher, spent his nights chained to a radiator. That’s how his employer kept him from running away.

Ramu wanted to flee because his boss, who was from a higher, more privileged caste, constantly berated him for showing an interest in learning to read. The boss believed Ramu had to get used to a life of cleaning up after other people because as a Dalit, a member of India’s lowest and most shunned caste, he could never amount to anything.

Then a foreigner who ran a private school and home for Dalit children noticed Ramu. He enrolled him in classes. Ramu is now a star pupil with a voracious and ever-changing appetite for activities including yoga, photography and film directing.

“In my childhood, I was so desperate for learning,” said Ramu, a gregarious 19-year-old with thick brown hair. “There are so many jobs other than dishwashing that I hoped to experience.”

It’s a tragedy — and India’s shame — that the caste system remains alive and well.

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