[Source]. The above picture taken by Ritesh Uttamchandani is sparking some discussion in the blogosphere. As you see, it shows tea stall owners, Sunil and Arvind Parmar having their lunch with Mangal, their Dalit servant sitting below their table. Most are outraged at this display of blatant discrimination pointing especially to the fact that the boy is a Dalit.
While not commenting on the appropriateness of the treatment, wouldn’t it be also true that the boy was sitting there because he is a servant and not because he is a Dalit? Of course, the relationship between him being a Dalit hence a servant cannot be denied much like race and poverty are intertwined in the United States. But that’s besides the point. Amit Varma comments:
I’d bet that if Mangal wasn’t under the table, the Parmars would have their feet on the ground, not on their seats, where they seem rather uncomfortable. Is that out of concern or disgust, you think?
I find that interesting because it might be culturally acceptable that servants not share their owners’ table at lunch. Would it be acceptable if the boy was not sitting under the table and in fact was on the floor next to them? I’m sure most middle-class and upper-class families in India do not sit with their servants for lunch at their dining table. So why the moral outrage at this picture? It may simply be a class issue and not a caste issue; which makes it just as likely in any culture around the world. Of course, whether you think this picture is nothing out of the ordinary or despicable is upto you.