Deep concern about social injustice in India pervaded Friday's address before about 30 students and diplomats by the Honorable V. P. Singh, former prime minister of India.
Singh stunned his Harvard Hall audience to silence with accounts of social injustice in India as he denounced its caste system and urged social and political equality for his country.
"Even funeral ceremonies wear the stamp of caste," he said.
Singh stressed the need for affirmative action in India, protesting the lack of lower-class representatives in India's government.
"Otherwise, it may not only cost our government, but our lives as well," he said.
Singh said the social situation in India is extremely volatile. "We are sitting on top of a volcano," he commented. "Albeit outside it looks cool, but inside there is fire."
The theme of impending violence resulting from caste inequality permeated the speech, as Singh related atrocities resulting from lower-class frustration and protest.
"Newspapers set the minds of youths on fire, while some youths set themselves on fire, thinking everything lost," he said.
The downfall of the caste system is imminent, according to Singh, because many Indian political parties have "sworn the cause of social justice." However, Singh's outlook on the future of women in Indian society was far from optimistic.
"Even supporters [of affirmative action] will not endorse gender unification," Singh said.
The Council for International Affairs (CFIA) sponsored the address as part of Singh's campaign seeking support for his Social Justice party.
Singh's speech stirred the emotions of both students and diplomats in the audience.
In the question-answer period following the speech, audience members spoke passionately and with raised voices.
Women's rights in India will be addressed at "The First International Conference on Dowry and Bride-Burning in India" at Pound Hall September 30 through October 2