Last week, thousands of Dalits across India took to the streets, protesting against the dilution of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, a law that was meant to protect them.
The protesters called for a Bharat Bandh, blocked roads, participated in sit-ins and chanted slogans. Police then opened fire at the demonstrators leading to the death of at least 11 people.
The country witnessed massive protests by the so-called ‘low caste’ and this was a turning point in India’s caste struggles.
Naturally, the world, too, started writing editorials and opinion pieces around it. This wasn’t to be missed.
New York Times published a piece showing how the caste struggle hints at a ‘fiery’ election ahead.
While NYT pointed how Dalit discrimination is not “gently entombed in the past”, but people still follow caste taboos, often quite violently, their tweet wasn’t anything close to the piece. In their attempt to summing up the article, this is what they tweeted.
Just a generation ago, many in India would move out of the way to avoid touching a low-caste Dalit. But today there are Dalit millionaires. So why are they protesting? https://t.co/zhjUdHVizj — New York Times World (@nytimesworld) April 6, 2018
The tweet was a part of the article, but it wasn’t a summarization of it. “Today there are Dalit millionaires. So why are they protesting?” the tweet read, reflecting a very problematic idea—that because there are Dalit millionaires, there is no caste oppression. Statistics and news reports prove otherwise.
In fact, the NYT piece also goes on to highlight exactly that. But the tweet is somewhat the idea that India’s upper caste usually use to put forward their arguments against caste reservation in education and jobs. Needless to say, it’s flawed.
“Dalit discrimination is not gently entombed in the past. In many parts of India, people still follow caste taboos, and often violently. Just last week, a mob of upper caste men in Gujarat hacked a young Dalit to death for riding a horse — lower caste people aren’t supposed to,” the NYT piece further wrote.
But the tweet had done the damage.
Jesus. Please stop going out of your way to pose questions stupidly. — Marty Olliff (@MartyOlliff) April 7, 2018
Here I thought that pro Nazi article in 2017 was low. You just reached a new low. #Resist #Resistance #BlackLivesMatter #DalitLivesMatter — Aniruddha R C (@AndyRC3001) April 8, 2018
On Twitter, NYT was told what was exactly wrong with their summary.
Just a generation ago, public spaces were segregated in USA. But until recently there was an African American President. So why are they protesting? This is how "hot takes" look when white folks, upper caste folks try to cash in on the struggles of oppressed. Do better @nytimes — Benson Neethipudi (@BenNeethipudi) April 8, 2018
New York Times be like “there are black millionaires & billionaires, so racism has stopped existing, #alllivesmatter bro” — Baba Manhattani (@BabaGlocal) April 8, 2018
Same reason that even though America has black millionaires, black people protest. Easy answer. — Dork and Cover (@Amanda_Kerri) April 7, 2018
“Why are they protesting?” Because maybe you are fortunate like those from the socially upward class who can never understand the pain of being a low-caste or the oppressed. — Suyashkumar S Pendam (@SSP06061987) April 8, 2018
Do better, NYT!
Today a hungry person ate, so why are there still soup kitchens? — Dave (@DKwiatkowski23) April 7, 2018
@nytimes: good article, ok headline, rock-bottom tweet. Tweets are the public face of the article. Do better. — We're_All_Rising (@BreadConquerer) April 8, 2018
pic.twitter.com/SxcYrCHKVB — Zachariah (@jpzach) April 8, 2018
In a series #BeingADalit, News18.com had mapped the atrocities on Dalits that took place in 2017. Just goes to show why they have too many reasons to protest, and why their protests cannot be belittled.