A little bit about why we're going to IndiaBy Steve | May 6th, 2008 | Category: Travel | 1 Comment »
I’ve mentioned a few times over the past couple of months that a small group of us from The Purple Door will be traveling to India in June, as part of our inter::mission project. While the details of visas, travel insurance, plane tickets, immunizations, and fundraising have occupied a good bit of our time lately, it’s important that we not lose focus on why we’re going.
One of the big reasons is that we place a high value on global connectivity, and are trying to take ownership of how our local lives and choices impact people and cultures around the world that we don’t even know about. We’re going to learn, to hear stories, to pray, to offer hope where we can.
India is in dire need of hope. While the popular media in the West (especially in the U.S.) gives a lot of focus to the rapidly growing economy and technological advances taking place there, we rarely hear about those who are on the underside of the boom. And we almost never hear about issues of caste, which continue to control so much about India’s culture, politics, and economy. Caste is officially illegal . . . but it continues to devastate millions.
U.S. news outlets are completely worthless in telling the story of India, which is part of why I’m glad for the BBC. Yesterday, they reported that “Some 10,000 farmers a year are estimated to commit suicide in India.” On April 7, they reported that “Officials in the western Indian state of Maharashtra say nine farmers have committed suicide over the past week.” A year-and-a-half ago, they reported that over 200 farmers had committed suicide in Maharashtra in the two months following a visit from India’s Prime Minister to announce a “relief package.” While the BBC is to be commended for their coverage of this crisis, they draw no connections to the ways in which caste plays into it. These farmers, in their desperation, take loans from upper caste people, who use heavy social pressures and aggressive interest rates to further drive the farmers down. This, of course, makes the lives of their widows and children crushingly difficult.
In June, this small group of us will go to Delhi for several days. We will spend time with Sunil Sardar and his team at Truthseekers International. Sunil is a tireless socio-spiritual activist who rallies for change and a true end to caste. After spending time with Sunil in Delhi, we will be going to Maharashtra state, in order to give support to the farmers. We will walk with them, and hear their stories, and do what we can to give aid.
As I’ve noted, there are many many issues in our world that are worthy of our time, attention, prayer, energy, and resources. This issue is ours for the moment. And so I’ll do what any activist for the other good causes will do – plead for your prayers, your concern, and whatever help you might have in you.