India's caste system, a pre-feudalistic division of labor that assigns one's line of work at birth, has persisted into the 21st century in defiance of every civilized notion of justice and equality. Why? The usual answer is the need of the privileged upper castes for cheap labor to do their dirty work. But as Shikha Dalmia explains, there is an even more tragic explanation. Untouchables cling to their caste because it offers them the best possible life, even in modern India.
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