HomeEqualityCaste SystemThe Untouchable President: Breaking Down the Caste System

The Untouchable President: Breaking Down the Caste System


Just a few days ago, on July 20th, India took its second major step at fighting the societal norms encouraged by the caste system when it elected its newest president. Ram Nath Kovind is the second head of state to be chosen from the bottom of the caste system since India’s independence in 1947. According to the election commission, he won the position with an outstanding 65% of the vote. He emotionally addressed his victory to the fellow Dalits who still struggle on a daily basis to fight the perception society has of them. He stated, “Even today the country will have so many Ram Nath Kovinds working as daily wagers, farmers… sweating for their next meal. I want to tell them that I am going to the ‘President House’ as their representative.” Way to shine some light on the significance of your presidency on the Dalits, Shree Ram Nath Kovind!

Who Cares?

Understandably, the first question that comes to our minds is, “Who cares?” The answer is, not enough people. India has taken a few steps to fight the caste system, but there is still little awareness about the underlying impacts it has on the people who are at the bottom of it and face constant obstacles even in the 21st century. It becomes increasingly important for not only the group being oppressed to speak out about their experiences, but for society to listen and want to reform an environment where everyone isn’t given the equal opportunities he/she should be. It took a whopping twenty two years for the recurrence of this positive step forward. We last saw this turning point in 1995 when Mayawati Kumari was the first Dalit elected to head a state. It also doesn’t hurt to know that his main rival, Meira Kumar, was also a Dalit and probably had similar aspirations to represent the community in an empowering fashion. Regardless, Kovind will take office on July 25th, a day that will forever stay in the hearts of Indians who sought to completely demolish the system from the country.

It is definitely not to say Dalits have to succeed and prove themselves worthy to be seen equally, but the more people who become prominent in society from the community will increase the amount of awareness surrounding the issue.


The selection of Kovind by the BJP is said to be primarily motivated by the recent rise in violence against the minorities. It’s important that we as a country show them we are with them in this fight.  Dalits constitute over 200 million of the people in a country of 1.3 billion, with recent data suggesting the number may be as high as 300 million. The newly president elect has the job of representing almost a quarter of the country’s people and breaking down the barriers that cause twenty two year gaps in their attempt to be elected head of state. Good luck Mr. President, we are all supporting you!

[Image Attribute: Daran Kandasamy]

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