Memorial for Rohith Vemula Saikat Paul/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire

Cómo sobrevive el sistema de castas de la India

NUEVA DELHI – El 17 de enero, Rohith Vemula, estudiante de doctorado en la Universidad de Hyderabad, en el estado Telangana de la India, se ahorcó. Incluso en un país con 1200 millones de personas, una única muerte puede tener un gran impacto.

Vemula era un dalit —un miembro de los que alguna vez fueron conocidos como «intocables»—, la casta hindú de menor categoría. También era líder de la Asociación Estudiantil Ambedkar en la Universidad de Hyderabad, dedicada a aumentar los derechos de los dalit. Con su muerte, Vemula logró algo que nunca pudo haber imaginado: se convirtió en un héroe nacional y su tragedia es un emblema de la tóxica duración de las castas en la narrativa del desarrollo de la India.

A diferencia de lo que ocurre con las razas, las castas son invisibles: el rostro de una persona no las refleja. Sin embargo, mantienen un poderoso dominio sobre la sociedad india, limitando las oportunidades disponibles en todas las etapas de la vida. Ser un dalit implica llevar un estigma invisible que afecta las interacciones diarias. La muerte de Vemula ha recordado otra vez a los indios que más de 300 millones de personas que pertenecen a las castas inferiores, al igual que los habitantes originales o «tribus de la India», aún sufren discriminación, perjuicios, hostilidad e incluso violencia en cada peldaño de la escalera social.

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