Giry points out, as well, that the law instructs local magistrates, mostly upper-caste Hindus, to look for any evidence of ?allurement,? which is conveniently, by the way, undefined. Thus, the people who have oppressed the dalits for generations have the authority to block their conversions. And this statute is considered a model for similar legislation across India.
This year, India will be a subject of debate in the presidential campaign because of the ?outsourcing? of American jobs to Indian firms. We need to insist that the talk in the campaign go beyond ?call centers? and computer programmers. If we?re putting business in India, our policy-makers ought to be demanding that India respect the most basic of human freedoms, freedom of religion.
For further reading and information:
Stephanie Giry, ? Chennai Dispatch: SOL ,? New Republic, 26 April 2004. (Available to subscribers only.)
Daniel Lak, ? Dalits? political awakening ,? BBC News, 28 September 1999.
Nirmala Ganapathy, ? In Venkaiah?s town, Dalits can?t share the well ,? Indian Express, 26 April 2004.
Girish Kuber, ? Are the Dalits becoming just an election statistic? ? Economic Times, 12 April 2004.
Gary Haugen, The Good News about Injustice (InterVarsity, 1999).