24 November, 2020

A Distant Source Of Light

An Indian-American Dalit who gave voice to the oppressed in the diaspora

A Distant Source Of Light
Twenty-five years ago, in September 1983, prime minister Indira Gandhi, while on a state visit to the US, had to face a vociferous group of Dalit immigrants in front of the White House protesting against atrocities on their kin back home. The protesters hailed from all corners of America, and leading a sizeable contingent from California was Lahori Ram, a businessman.

Lahori Ram, 64, passed away nine days before he could see a coloured man do what none before him had. As one who had come half way around the world, fleeing discrimination, only to encounter prejudices of another kind, Ram would have truly understood the scale and import of Barack Obama's ascension.

The travails and triumphs of the Dalit diaspora is hardly the script that resonates from Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelans, but Ram was an emblem of the sweat and smarts that we otherwise seek and salute. In 1972, he landed in America with only $380 (approximately Rs 16,000) in his pocket, yet 37 years later, he wore the informal mantle of the other world's richest Dalit...


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