Bringing India’s castes to book

From The Age:

Hindu_caste AS A child growing up in south India, S. Anand knew only the rigidly orthodox world of Tamil Brahmins (known as “Tam Bams”).

His grandmother imposed strict caste rules: non-Brahmins were not allowed in the kitchen or at the dining table and they could not to use the same dishes as the family.

“I was like a frog in a well. I knew nothing outside my community. I did not mix with other castes. My grandmother wanted me to take my own plate to the dining hall at university because non-Brahmin meat eaters might have eaten off the same plate!” he says, in his office in Saket, a Delhi suburb.

Later, as a journalist, Mr Anand, 33, was struck by media indifference towards the massacres of low caste Indians — known as “dalits”, formerly called “untouchables”.

His fellow journalists, on hearing about dalit women being paraded naked through villages before being raped and burnt — would merely shrug as though to say “what’s new?” If reported at all, the killings usually ended up as news in brief.

Now, Mr Anand is India’s only publisher devoted exclusively to books on caste. His company, Navayana, won the British Council’s international young publisher of the year award in April for his pioneering work.

More here.