Sunday, June 10, 2012

Les Miserables - India-style

This serialized piece in the WSJ India Edition has apparently gotten BIG play.   As I have some experience with India - I am not at all surprised at these difficult real-life experiences among the poorer castes.  I will suggest the plight of most the poor in Indonesia, Cape Town and even Bejing - are very similar.  It reminds me of Victor Hugo's well-known novel "Les Miserables".  (Itself a serialized newspaper novel).

Here are some of my observations:
  • Child rape seems rampant - and accepted by many lower caste man and women.  In many of these accounts the women were just as likely - perhaps even MORE likely - to enlist/procure the young girls.
  • Rape allegations in the "country-side" appear to be dealt with by the family/tribal structure.  Only in cities where "western" thinking is more common are allegations acted upon.  Hard to tell if they are any more or less false rape allegations than in America given the social consequences in India. Outcast and shunning seem popular - with good measure of compassion and extenuating circumstances thrown in.
  • Arranged marriage seems to be well-accepted.
  • The sex-selection imbalance seems to have increased female bridal values.
  • Munni Khatoon seems to have experienced the same hard fate of head-strong girls the world over until western feminism relieved them of facing the consequences of their actions.  Like going against their families wishes and marrying outside their caste/religion - even delusionally for "love".  
  • Prostitution flourishes.
  • Formal marriage is practiced - but it depends on both parties exercising it to remain in force.
  • Penalties under appear unenforceable, except they can include physical violence from "the family".
  • Trading in children seems common - as there appear to be many abandoned or sold into service.
  • Hard to believe they have a socialized medical system - except the results speak for themselves.  I have the impression that all the attention paid to Falak by the hospital was only due to the media attention.  What ICU nurse wants to be the one who says "What is the big deal? We get one of these kids every month!" with the media fluttering around every day.

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