INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— Most people recognize education as a building block for human development and a means for reducing poverty. An effort to expand education to millions living in poverty in India is being directed with the concept of giving educational opportunities to those in the lowest of India’s caste system.
“Globalization has created a middle class not only for India but also for China and other developing countries,” said Darrell Brown, clinical associate professor in management at Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, as well as director of diversity. “But with such a stark dichotomy between poverty and middle class, the question is, does globalization trickle down to the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid?”
Brown is involved in several upcoming conferences in India focusing on the growing need for higher education in that country. He will speak at three events regarding gender issues, caste oppression and discrimination.
“Here in the U.S. we say education is the key to moving up,” explained Brown. “India still has a caste system and at the bottom of that system are people called the Dalits. Once you’re born into a caste you can not escape it. But there is a movement to have more inclusion of people at the bottom. This is what law experts in India and the United States have been trying to strategize.”
Brown will present at conferences at the Tata Institute at Mumbai, Delhi’s Jindal University Law School and the Delhi Chamber of Commerce. Jindal University, which collaborates with the Kelley School of Business Bloomington, is an emerging university recognizing India’s need for more education. Brown says India’s class and caste issues mimic civil rights struggles in the United States.
“I want to talk about that parallel between how far we’ve come in 50 years from the beginning of the civil rights movement and opportunities for African Americans and minorities in this country,” said Brown. “It didn’t happen overnight. But people continually worked at it by opening doors for opportunities to go to school. In the beginning, African Americans could go to school but it had to be at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). But now they can go anywhere. That’s what has to happen in India. If we are to make any impact, we have to open up the educational doors of opportunity to admit the people who have been marginalized and unrepresented.”
With the global middle class expected to grow to one billion within the next decade, the major contributors will be India and China. The starting point for building that middle class is to educate those with the least opportunities.
“I tell my students, to change a culture takes a long time,” added Brown. “You can’t do it overnight. But it has to start with people who advocate and promote change.”