Archives For social justice

I think it’s important that I preface this entry by admitting that social justice had, quite frankly, nothing to do with why I was in India.

I moved there with my family in 2009 after my dad, who works for a multi-billion dollar Fortune 50 company whose name isn’t important,was transferred to an office in Chennai, a city of roughly 8 million souls on the southeast coast of the country. There could not have been more social and economic disparity between my world and the world of so many Indians. My world had air-conditioned luxury cars, and chauffeurs who called me sir instead of my name. My world had security guards, maids, gardeners, cooks, paid vacations and 5-star restaurants; and if I wanted it to, existed primarily behind gates and tinted glass.

Most of my neighbors didn’t have shoes.

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When I first started working in the nonprofit field, I was a lowly intern with big ideas of a world transformed in my lifetime. Literacy felt like a nice, fluffy topic. I knew education was important—but literacy felt like such a backseat issue compared to extreme poverty, slavery, and the other deep injustices of the world. So I thought, really, let’s prioritize.

Over the years, my perspective has obviously widened and developed and grown, but I’ll admit, it wasn’t until a recent trip to India that I totally changed my mind about literacy.

Because when we talk about literacy, we’re not talking about teaching people to read and write. We’re talking about giving them the opportunity of their lives… lives that they’ll live out with purpose… lives that will help end extreme poverty, slavery, and the other deep injustices of the world.

So there I was, in a decent-sized village called Yadagirigutta, in South India, where I met Kiran.

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Reference: SC = Scheduled Castes & ST = Scheduled Tribes (all part of lower castes)

The literacy rate among scheduled castes and tribes remains well below the rest of India’s population, but the gap has closed significantly in the last decade. During this period (2001-2011), ST and SC women made the most rapid progress, latest census data reveals.

Data released earlier this week shows a 14.6 percentage point increase in literacy among ST and SC women over the decade, compared to a jump of 10 percentage points for non-SC/ST women. The literacy rate of ST men and SC men has jumped by 9.4 and 8.5 percentage points, respectively, compared to just 4.8 percentage points among non-SC/ST men.

The pattern of SC and ST women showing a higher increase in literacy holds good across almost all states, and in both rural and urban areas. Of course, the base was very low to start with in the case of both women and men in the two communities, compared to the general population. Continue Reading…

Out of 136 countries measured, India falls towards the bottom for almost every indicator, including “health and survival”, ranking second-to-last at 135.