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Indian outcast millionaire mulls caste, riches

Saurabh Das / AP

Dalit Hari Kishan Pippal, 60, a member of India's outcast community once known as untouchables, sits on a scooter inside his Honda dealership showroom in Agra, India. Raised in poverty, he only made it through high school before his father became ill, and he had to go to work pulling a rickshaw to support the family. The vast majority of India's 170 million dalits live amid a thicket of grim statistics: less than a third are literate, well over 40 percent survive on less than $2 a day, infant mortality rates are dramatically higher than among higher castes. Pippal now owns a hospital, a shoe factory, a car dealership and a publishing company.

It's fascinating to see the changes in the caste system in India these days.

AP reports:

As far back as he can remember, people told Hari Kishan Pippal that he was unclean, with a filthiness that had tainted his family for centuries. Teachers forced him to sit apart from other students. Employers sometimes didn't bother to pay him.

Pippal is a dalit, a member of the outcast community once known as untouchables. Born at the bottom of Hinduism's complex social ladder, that meant he could not eat with people from higher castes or drink from their wells. He was not supposed to aspire to a life beyond that of his father, an illiterate cobbler. Years later, he still won't repeat the slurs that people called him.

Now, though, people call him something else.

They call him rich.

Full story here ...

Saurabh Das / AP

Hari Kishan Pippal speaks in his office in Agra, India.

Saurabh Das / AP

Hari Kishan Pippal inspects shoes at his shoe factory in Agra, India.

Saurabh Das / AP

Hari Kishan Pippal poses for a photograph inside his Heritage Hospital, one of the largest private medical facilities in the north Indian city of Agra.

Saurabh Das / AP

Hari Kishan Pippal sits for a photograph with his family at his home in Agra, India.

Saurabh Das / AP

Hari Kishan Pippal sits with his granddaughter at his home in Agra, India.

Saurabh Das / AP

Hari Kishan Pippal talks on his mobile phone as his wife watches television in their bedroom at their home in Agra, India.

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