India Fatal Fires of Protest

Why Singh's decision to improve the lot of lower-caste members has driven so many Indians to commit suicide

Rajiv Goswami, 20, does not have the obvious makings of a hero. His father is a postmaster, and he grew up with six doting sisters in a typically middle- class family belonging to the Brahmin caste, the highest in the Hindu social order. At Deshbandhu College in New Delhi, he was a mediocre student, and he hoped to start work as a refrigeration engineer after graduation.

Ramakant Chaturvedi, 26, showed no more tendency toward dramatic self- sacrifice. The son of a political-science teacher, he also came from a middle-class Brahmin family. After finishing college in Bhind, he tried in vain to...

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