Isn’t reservations-based-on-caste actually perpetuating casteism in
I too would like to live in an ideal world where I am not judged by my color of the skin, my religion, my caste or my nationality but only by my character and personality (#). But unfortunately, I don’t live in that ideal world. Ideally I would love to know that I am not judged by my caste, but I am, whether I like it or not. And more so in rural
I cannot close my eyes and believe that everyone is blind. Just because certain elite believe it, casteism doesn’t get shooed away. Casteism is a fundamental identity in Hindu society, whether one likes it or not. Even today the marriage happens only within one’s caste- just look at millions of matrimonial ads on Internet. The people even go the sub-caste and sub-sub-caste to emphasize their preference. The statistics are very lopsided. Of the 400 faculty members at IIT Chennai 285 are Brahmins and 3 are SCs. The minute the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh is a Reddy, every Vice-Chancellor invariably is a Reddy. Once that is done, the upper caste members sit down to share the Head of Departments and other important positions between themselves. According to Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD, enrolment of SCs in higher educations was 8.6 % during 1990-91 and is 11.3% in 2002-03, while that of STs is 2.1% and 3.6%. According the Committee, the participation of SC/STs is “abysmally low”.
To remove poverty one has to admit that poverty exists and then go about identifying who are poor and then actually implement plans and programs to people who are poor. To remove AIDS in India, one has to admit that AIDS exists and recognize that it is spreading like wildfire, unchecked and unrelenting, and then go about identifying the AIDS patients, provide care to contain it. In the same vein, to remove problems associated with casteism, one has to admit that discrimination-based-on-caste exists, and then go about identifying the sections that are affected, and implement plans and programs to help them.
There is another way to deal with the problem- believing that poverty does not exist, and somehow expect it go away, or believing that AIDS does not exist, and somehow expect it vanish away. As long as poverty and AIDS do not come into my home, I would like to believe it does not exist, and that way I can go about leading my ordinary life without getting affected. The signs of such apathy are clearly seen in
Casteism has been made an integral part of Hinduism slowly and systematically. When I use the word ‘systematically’ I use it with great care. I know exactly what I want to convey. It is an extremely rigorous and fool-proof process that has come into existence where in many rules, by-rules, laws and by-laws have been made part of Hinduism so as to maintain dominance of certain castes making sure that certain other castes are always kept out of all those key areas which could empower people. The rules include how to treat a Dalit when you cross him in a street, how to deal with a Shudra when you take work from him. Rules on whether you can invite him inside your home or not. Whom you can marry and whom you cannot. Who you can associate with and make friendship and whom you cannot. And when you transgress, like, associating yourself with a lower caste person, there are certain rituals that you can perform to cleanse yourself of contamination.
Most of us have a myopic view of
One of the first things a mature civilization can do is admit its mistakes. That never happens in
It is disgusting and downright ugly to see some of the jokes being propagated these days- which talk about quotas in cricket and at lavatories. One joke suggests an expedition to moon to have so many SC/ST, so many OBC, and only two would be actual astronauts. The innate belief in making these jokes is that only the forward caste are actually qualified to drive the mission to moon.
Those who fear that this new set of reservations-based-on-caste will bring further divide have the following opinion- “I didn’t know who was OBC/SC/ST till yesterday and hence I did not feel any different from them. But now this labeling is making me know them. And from now on, I will feel different towards them”. Few others have a similar opinion- “SC/ST/OBC were just idling away in the fields working on bonded labor for a rich landlord. That didn’t bother me because I didn’t know about them. But now, you are bringing them into our midst, our institute, our ‘islands of excellence amongst sea of mediocrity’ and that bothers me. As long as they are out there, I don’t mind. Putting them in our midst causes me to label them and hence that divides us.”
My argument to them is simple. If knowing who they are or having them in your midst causes your mindset to change, I am not sure how does that make you any less discriminatory. What you are conveying is this- “I am discriminatory. But, don’t make me do it. So, keep them away or let me not know them. That way I don’t have to feel guilty about it”.
(#) I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character- Martin Luther King.