http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer… (listen at 47 min 13 sec)

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey complaining about the “youth of today”, I often get the feeling that my students have no idea just how lucky they have it. That said, I too am generally blithely aware of just how easy I myself have it.

Having listened to this interview, I cannot help but contrast my own life circumstances with that of India’s Dalit population: those born into the untouchable caste, destined to a lifetime of hardship and discrimination. The interviewer talks with a Dalit lady named Lakshmi, who makes her living by emptying human waste from non-flushing toilets. In the course of her day’s work, which fits under the heading of “manual scavenging”, she is regularly covered in excrement, and as a result faces terrible discrimination. As one example, she is not allowed to touch food at the markets, and when she wishes to purchase something she is made to pick it up from the floor, well away from the other customers. The sadness with which she tells her tale drives home the vast disparity in the way in which our world’s riches are distributed.