Friday, May 14, 2010

To Caste or not

When the current population census in India for 2011 got underway, I was really sad that it did not include information on caste.   India has been recording the data on SC/STs but not on OBCs.  The last census on OBCs was done in 1931 by the British.  

Indians have tumultuous relationship with caste.  While caste continues to dominate one’s life, decide one’s food habits, select one’s spouse, and determine one’s access to education and opportunity, the elite and modern Indians do not like to discuss about it.   Though it is a dominant identity, sometimes more dominant than religion or sex, that determines the fate of an individual in nearly 75% of India, most of us living in cities like to believe that caste is a shameful identity of the archaic past.  

In reality, one cannot escape caste so easily even in cities.  Though there are Tamils, Telugus and Malayalee in my apartment complex, close family relationships are maintained along casteist lines. So how did these people discover other’s caste?  They do so by many means, by one’s food habits, one’s last names, and sometimes through the maids who seem to be the conduit for such information disclosing the caste of other families to the curious minds.

While we are quite OK to gather official information on language, religion, and sex, why are we reluctant to gather information on caste, especially when the socio-economic status of an individual has such strong correlation with one’s caste, more so than with any other identity?  When caste is such an important identity why shy away from collecting scientific data on castes in India?

During the recent Mandal Commission debate, people were lost on what is the exact percentage of OBC in India.   When such important decisions on reservations based on caste are taken, wouldn’t it help if we have scientific data on the profile of the population, their economic status, their percentage representation in various areas?  How can we take concrete measures without any actual data?  Isn’t a census the best time to understand the caste related information in India?  Why should we shy away from collecting the actual data that could help us make educated response to these problems? 

Thankfully, PMO has succumbed to the pressure of OBC parties and has decided to tabulate caste related information in the current census.  However, three major newspapers, Times of India, Mint, and The Hindu, all have expressed dissatisfaction at collecting caste related data in the current census.

The government has unfortunately given in to pressure from the OBC lobby to include caste as a category in the 2011 Census… There was good reason why caste wasn't included in the census since the idea was to move towards a casteless society. In that sense, the government's move is regressive it would result in the perpetuation of caste as a lynchpin of government policy. We have argued in these columns that people must move beyond restrictive categories such as religion or caste.

A casteless society, like a religion-less society, or sexless society, or nation-less world, or language-less country is a pipe dream, something only idealists dream of when they have renounced the real world.  Caste is something that is all permeating in an Indian’s life, especially the small town and village life, an identity that an individual has to contend with in everyday life, much more than religion or language.  Caste dictates what you eat, where you live, what you do, where you sit in a school, what school you go to, what you can aim for and aspire in your life, who your friends are going to be, who you are going to marry and have kids with, and many other things.  It is an inescapable identity one has to live with till one dies.   For thousands of years, caste dominated this country, ruled it in a tyrannical grip, much more than any emperor or monarch.  

A casteless society is possible only when caste is no longer the criteria for deciding the fate one’s individual, when educational and economic opportunities are easily accessed by anyone irrespective of their caste, when this society becomes equitable and just, only when caste becomes a redundant identity.  Till then, we have to contend with this reality, not shy away from it.  ‘Cowards’ is the right word to describe those people who shy away from tabulating information on caste, who refuse to recognize that caste is an identity we have to deal with, even if it is a disagreeable identity.  

While it is undeniable that Dalits, who have been oppressed for centuries, needed and have been empowered by affirmative action, the same cannot be said for the OBCs. There is good evidence to suggest that OBCs such as the Yadavs have become dominant groups in terms of political and economic clout.

That’s bit of a naïve generalization coming out a person who looks like an anti-reservation bigot.  It is already understood that many OBCs (not all) had experiences similar to that of Dalits.   Using only one example of a powerful OBC group, that of Yadavs, to characterize thousands of OBCs castes in different regions is oversimplification of a complex problem.  Some OBCs are closer to upper castes while some are closer to Dalits.  Not all OBCs are the same in all regions of India.

There are other good reasons for not including caste in the census. The logistics of caste enumeration is daunting. When a similar proposal had come up earlier, the then census commissioner had warned that it would be too complex and could affect the integrity of the population count, which is the prime purpose of the exercise.

This baseless conclusion baffles me.  We have been collecting data on castes, that of SC/STs, so how come we cannot collect data on OBCs?  Why would it affect the integrity of population count?  Did counting SC/ST affect integrity of population count? Does introducing the caste in census yield different results on the population of India?

MINT writes:

…there could be unintended consequences implied in such a move. The census is primarily an enumerator—an objective chronicler of Indian life. With a caste element added, it may well become a political tool for redistributive policies in a country that is already burdened by them, not to mention the misguided social and political mobilization that distorted data on castes could give rise to.

Countries like United States collect data on one’s race because race is the subject for discrimination in that country.  And since caste is the main subject for discrimination in India, it makes a case for tabulation of caste-related data in India.   India is not burdened by redistributive policies.  On the other hand, it is bereft of policies that provide equitable distribution of access to education and economic opportunity.

THE HINDU writes:

For social justice, we are made to believe there is no alternative to reservation, and for reservation, no alternative to counting caste.

Yes, it is indeed true that there is no alternative to reservations-based-on-caste, and there is no alternative to counting caste, whether there are reservations or not. 

There is no doubt that stringent affirmative action policies are required to make formal institutions more socially inclusive, but to shackle the census to this agenda betrays a failure to learn from the past or to think imaginatively about the future.

What is the past we are talking about?  What is the imagination that the author is talking about? If ever, the only reason why some castes and religions continue to be discriminated against in post-Independent India and why some groups like Telanganas are discriminated by powerful groups is because India failed to provide safeguards based on group identities.   The only reason why a SC/ST person can actually dream of being a normal human being in modern India is because of the caste-based-reservations in India.  Without them they would have been slaves of 20th Century. 

What we need to learn from history is exact opposite of what this author suggests.  We have to bravely face the reality, not hide from the truths that continue to haunt us.  Caste is a reality that will not go away just because you refuse to look at it.  It has stayed with us for over two thousand years, and it will continue to stay for another three hundred years.  It is not a simple problem that can be wished away. So, let’s not pretend the problem does not exist.  Real problems require real solutions based on real data; and it needs people with guts who can face up to that reality, not cowards who want to pretend the world has become safer just because they refuse to look at the evil in the eye. 


  1. God one and indeed a brave article.
    It is true that unless we have real data we ca never estimate the intensity of the problem. Just counting the SC/ST population is simply ptting the politically powerful upper cstes against SC/ST. This is equalent to creating vertical divide of Indian population. And this is how the congress party was able to hold power for the past 60 years. This has to go. And unless we have the real stats about the social groups in india this is impossible. All these days everyone behaved as if that Indian population is either dominated by uppercastes or dalits. It is necessary to know the stats to bring about integration. It is necessary to make it clear that as such there is no caste that dominates in this country in number and that all are merely small denominations. That is the only way we can stay closer to each other in this country.
    The best thing to address the caste is not denying it politically but culturally. We should not allow the matrimonial sites to address castes and religion publicly and all the gothras and names indicating castes should be discouraged from public use.

  2. Claim: Hinduism is anti-India.You can either be a Hindu or an Indian, but not both.

    Proof: The backbone of Hinduism is caste. If A is brahmin and B is dalit, then caste says that A is of higher status than B. But a nation is created on the concept of equality- that all human beings are created equal. Hence castism is anti-India. Hence Hinduism is anti-India.


    Submitted by Soham Shankar

  3. I would like to present a view opposite to the one presented in this blog. I draw strength from the fact that it is as described in the scriptures.

    Varna system, as described in Hindu scriptures, is NOT discriminatory and was coded to ensure that people lived happily and the society flourished because of the strengths. Before explaining myself further, I should state this important point: NO VARNA IS SUPERIOR OR INFERIOR TO ANY OTHER. If people have that idea, it is unfortunately due to present day mentality.

    It is very important to understand that while it sounds good to say that everyone is equal, it is important to realize that everyone has different capabilities. Varna system as practised in olden Hindu way of life is not discriminatory and is indeed healthier than what the current state of India is where people clamor for entitlements and rush to be called backward.

    Kshatriyas as warriors and rulers were one varna; Vaisyas or money makers/traders were another varna; shudras or laborers/craftsmen were another varna and brahmins or those well versed in scriptures and moral compass for the society was the fourth varna. All the varnas had common rules and each varna had its own additional rules.

    Contrary to what revisionists/apologists (for a great culture!) would like to say that varna was not hereditory and people could change their varna anytime. The best place to hide a lie is between two truths and such is the case even here. VARNA IS HEREDITORY. And the reason is obvious... A son born to a potter would be trained to be a potter himself; and he would, in all likelihood, be a better potter than a son of a brahmin. There were few exceptions like Viswamitra, Parasuram, Ravan etc in Hindu mythology and others in real life who, though born in one varna, ultimately belonged to a different varna by virtue of their abilities and effort. But, these are exceptions rather than the rule.

  4. Again, it is a red herring, if not an outright lie, to say that brahmins were privileged and shudras were not. In fact, the brahmins had a much more rigorous routine; if indeed brahmins had written the scriptures to ensure that they had an easy life, then that must be lost.

    Since brahmins possessed knowledge, it was necessary to keep them humble; so, they could not engage in trade, had to beg for food or eat fruits that grew by the rivers, had to perform prayers and other duties as mentioned in the scriptures until the afternoon and eat late in the afternoon (when the shudras and other varnas would be resting after a meal), have to keep himself clean etc.

    Somehow, I get the feeling that my point of view might not be welcome in this blog/comments section. If that is the case, then I do not wish to waste your valuable time and mine too. If however, this ignites a better discussion, I will be very happy to participate.

    However, please remember that every politician, by definition, will sow seeds of hatred and try to separate people. It is necessary that people are enlightened and empowered to lead discussions and make judicious decisions. Hindu culture or Sanathana Dharma has withstood the tests of time primarily because of the implicit recognition that people are different and from that diversity, unity of cause is derived. It recognises that people had different karma but love is universal. Different varnas are separated by their karma (or action) but strive for the same goal (universal love and god-realization). So, caste, as defined in the scriptures is healthy and wise. Hindu culture with its varna system is nothing to be ashamed about; Britishers, and then subsequently, self-serving politicians have ruined this concept for their own benefit.

    Thanks for reading thus far. Further questions are encouraged so I can discuss this in great detail with all of you. Brickbats (with reasonable arguments) are also welcome because it motivates me to read and research the scriptures more.

    Thanks :-)

  5. Shim,
    You just reminded me of a person whom I met in Adilabad 8 yrs ago. He is not a 'Swami\Baba' type. He leads a simple normal life and runs a kind of Gurukul\Ashram there and researches about Hindu society culture development. (Even students from IITs carry out their projects there, occassionally. (Sorry I forgot his name). I might not be expressing what he told me accurately, but let me say the essence of my understanding of what he spoke:

    According to him, Our ancient caste based society attaches lot of moral responsibility to each individual towards the society. Each person contributes himself towards every event within society. Every skilled worksman is a specific Brahmin f.g: Nayi-Brahmin is skilled only in salooning, Vishwa-Brahmins are skilled in Pottery, jewellary etc, A Niyogi-Brahmin

    works in Administrative department (Mainly as chief advisory to the ruler). A priest Brahmin is a literate who either lives a humble life as a priest and also work as daily door to door news reporter, goes to each door, Tells the Vaaram, Varjyam, Tithi, auspisciousness of the day, communicates any new rules\events\births\deaths etc in the society. If a ritual has to happen at someones house, he goes to each Caste group, announces the necessary ingradients e.g: A potter has to make 'n' no.of pots, A weaver has to weave so much of cloth for that day, A Washer has to wash and be prepared to work on such a day, A cobbler has to make new pair of footwear etc. Interestingly, he says each caste represents a specific relationship
    with the Person who performs the ritual. e.g: Nayi-Brahmin who shaves the head (for every ritual head shaving is must) becomes the 'Mena mama' of that day. The so said lowest caste people take up the 'Peddanna' (big brother) role for the day. A representative from that caste has to ignite the basic 'Agni' to perform the entire ritual (Be it be a Yagnya or even
    a funeral, the first 'Agni' would be ignited by them - they are otherwise 'Show stoppers'.

    Hence they are referred as 'Pedda kulastulu'. Even in these days I hear many old people in villages respectfully or sircastically calls them so). No one will be paid wages for performing these duties. Instead they will be given 'Katnam' respectfully. Even now we see people in villages demand'Katnam' instead of calling them as 'wages'.(e.g: on a 'Gruha pravesam' day, The carpenter, Contruction Mestri demand their 'Katnam'). All the rituals are
    designed in such a way that it includes all skilled class persons ingrediants. This is to ensure that every caste gets it's own respectful share in the society. Kshatriyas are the mighty ones who has to protect the entire society from all physical dangers. That's why people called this land as 'Karma Bhumi', where each individual performs his 'karma' dutifully to the society.

  6. People of the sub continent lived with a similar cultural background. As you sweep across the regions of the sub continent, rituals may be performed with slight differences but the essence (system) of the society living would be the same. Within the sub continent, people were divided in spiritual terms and thus formed different ritual (karma) performing groups like 'Dwaita', 'Adwaita' etc. But at the outset, even the Dwaitas or Adwaitas followed the same system of society life. There is nothing like the modern day word 'Hindu' in puranas or Vedas. What we follow here is a formulated systematic way of life. Even in Gita, Krishna did not refer to Hinduism, but refers only to Varnas only. We should not forget that the sub-continent was hidden behind Himalayas for many ages. Outsiders (esp. Persians) realised that here is a massive way of life existing on the other side of Sindhu river and referred us as 'Hindus'. Outsiders could not differentiate the finer differences within this society.

    For them people here looked living same structured life. So we became Hindus in toto, but within ourslf, all of us are not Hindus, some perform rituals according to Rigveda, others follow Yajurveda, few other follow the preachings of Guru's like Guru Nanak, Jaina, Budhdha etc. But the way of life across all these looks similar.

    Over a period of time, Unfortunately, the entire caste system became rigid with each skilled person teaching his skill only to his heirs. Even the santana dharma is also made rigid. (We are so much adapted to this system that today we see the heirs boming Actors,
    Politicians, Industrialists etc. But this happened much much before Britishers ruled this country) With the modern day civilization, lot of our skills or Karma has changed. But we are still unable to shed our good old castes.

    There could be many loose ends or missing links in what I said above (Even the person who told me this admitted it and said that his research is still on) but logically it sounded somewhat convincing.

    Coming to the topic of the blog: the Caste based census, Yes! as long as the constitution recognizes that there are castes with in the society and authorises reservations, a caste based census is a must atleast to know who is standing where over a period of time.

  7. > So, let’s not pretend the problem does not exist

    That is the crux. We are the masters of pretending. The question is not "if we are pretending", but it is "why do we pretend"


  8. If you are anti-caste specific in your Census Sheet then the best to do is address yourself as "Hindustani". Otherwise, specify!! Simple

  9. Good blog..! I accept with you upto some extent, but always you tend to target brahmins by showing food habits and culture. The vegetarian habit and their culture neither harms others or nor a bad.
    Now the society has changed. An SC or ST who passes out with 40% can get a seat in IIT, whereas a brahmin need to get atleast 98% for that. Especially, the Brahmins are forward castes in all the states in India. Unlike Reddys are forward caste in AP and backward caste in Karnataka. Is this the equality? Is this the secularism?


  10. Every time the question about caste is raised, people always tend to defend it with mentioning the scriptures.

    Stop pretending that the scriptures got everything right. No they didn't. 'The scriptures should not be immune to criticism. They didn't get everything right."

    Y was it needed that the caste system be present in that time?And can anyone run me throught the exact lines that define a caste in the scriptures.

    I believe that the data about the caste should be collected as long as you see people (atleast most people) talking about them (yes I still hear people talking about caste, mentioning 'I am so and so Reddy, brahmin or sth').

    When was the last time you heard someone say his name w/o a Reddy or Chaudary or when was the last time you asked someone whether he is a non-vegetarian and you did not get the answer - 'No, we are brahmins / vyshyas'
    Well one could have said 'No I dont eat meat.' Of course others have to be blamed equally cos the if one would have said that he was a veggie the next question might have been 'Are u a brahmin/vyshya?'

    Sorry If I've hijacked your post.

  11. Jai GottimukkalaMay 17, 2010 6:11 PM

    Shim said: "Varna system, as described in Hindu scriptures, is NOT discriminatory. NO VARNA IS SUPERIOR OR INFERIOR TO ANY OTHER"

    Sure, as Anatole France said, "the law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread".

    The caste system may be efficient in a Weberian model but is inherently discriminatory. Remember the "legal doctrine" of "seperate but equal" that justified segregation till it was overruled in the fifties? Remember the glorification of apartheid as "seperate development" till 1991?

    My views on reservations follow in a seperate post.

  12. Jai GottimukkalaMay 17, 2010 6:31 PM

    Sujai, an interesting post.

    I am not certain if the present reservation system is capable of delivering social justice.

    Firstly, the reservations are valid only in the Govt. sector. In other words, a share in the rapidly shrnking pie.

    This sector is also among the least preferred for the elite. In other words, reservations guarantee the masses the same fruit the caste system offered i.e. the leftover unwanted menial jobs.

    Thirdly, much of this is tokenist in nature. Witness the huge number of "paleru mantrulu" all over the country.

    Finally the "creamy layer" is not a sustainable approach. Those who have reaped the benefits of reservation in the last 50 years have essentially been sucked into the system. These guys have a vested interest in perpetuating dscrmination.

    Please note I am not opposing resevations or supporting caste system (please see my rejoinder on Shim's post above). I am merely saying reservations can at best be one of the tools of social justice, not the only one or even the most important.

    Can we eliminate the caste system altogether? Perhaps but this will be a long struggle.

    Can India or Hinduism exist after the caste system is consigned to the trash can? Possibly not: I for one am OK with this "compromise"

  13. @The Open Terrace:
    That was interesting information. I did not know all the details, but I think that the gist of what you and I say are the same. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    It is unfortunate that in a "secular" country, the system of education imparted to the majority of population is "western" and contempt for the local indigenous way of life. Words like "caste", "hindu" etc. are NOT mentioned anywhere in the scriptures.

    @Jai Gottimukkala:
    Could you please explain this statement "The caste system may be efficient in a Weberian model but is inherently discriminatory." because I do not understand it. There is no reference to caste in Indian scriptures,and it is very possible that misinterpretations and trying to read something written in a different language in times very different by people with vested interests can pollute the original message. I would be very interested to hear why you might think that the varna system is discriminatory and why you would think that an alternate system is more "efficient", "equal" and possibly more fulfilling. As for the current caste and reservation system, I hope that we can realize before it is too late that they are the symptoms of a deeper malaise than the problem themselves.

  14. Jai GottimukkalaMay 18, 2010 1:12 PM


    Let me respond to your last sentence first. I am not confident that the current reservations mechanism can by itself solve the problem. In fact I suspect the problem statement has not been defined yet.

    If I understand you correctly, you contend that the caste system was not designed to be discriminatory but subsequent interpretations polluted the original intended message. For the sake of argument, let me not differ with this and also concede your assertion that the Indian scriptures did not refer to caste.

    The caste system is based on the “division of labor” doctrine but uses heredity rather than merit as the control parameter. Irrespective of the intentions, this mixture of stratification and zero (or low if we allow for rare examples like Viswamithra) migration opportunities is a status quoist approach. The groups that are most likely to benefit from the system also control the “commanding heights”. These groups therefore have the incentive & capability to perpetuate the stratification in the name of religion, culture, tradition, god etc.

    I agree it was possibly efficient in its early days (as a potter’s son was most likely to become a good potter etc. as you explain). In today’s world, it is grossly inefficient even if restored to the “original intended message”.

    I am not sure if I was able to clarify my views. Please do let me know if I sound incoherent.

    Please also see my second post where I asked: “Can India or Hinduism exist after the caste system is consigned to the trash can?” I will appreciate your views on this.

  15. @Jai Gottimukkala:
    Thanks for replying to my questions patiently and intelligently. On the internet, it is easy to be dismissive and rude and hence a thought-out and polite reply is definitely appreciated.

    I think that the fundamental disconnect between Sanathana Dharma and current day living is the goal of man... What use is material progress if there is no spiritual progress? How many things can you get to make you truly happy? And will you continue to feel happy if you have attained any possession that you wanted? Would you not crave for more? Material progress is no progress at all.

    The goal of spiritual progress is to ensure that you kill ahamkara (ego-sense) and realize universal love and identify that you are not the body but the spirit. Once you are able to do that, you will see that you are not an individual self but we are all one. You can call it by many names/idols/nothing at all, but the ultimate reality is one, shrouded in maya.

    i do not want to meander much, but the reason I precafed my explanation was to bring out the fundamental reason for having the varna system. I am sure that most of us can relate to losing our selves when we are deeply involved in our work (s/w engineer/doctor/mother/student playing games during the games period at school etc.) Some others lose their selves and find bliss in bhakti... some other in doing good to others etc. Thus, there are multiple paths to attain bliss... it can be karma, yoga, bhakti etc. Thus what is needed is not uniformity of action but unity in thought that will lead us to this realization.

    The fundamental premise of the Varna system is that ALL varnas are equal. We can all agree that our heart, hand, legs, brain and eyes perform different tasks and none is more important than the other one. Of course, we can live crippled without a few of these, but for a healthy body, all these functions are vital; what is the use of sharp eyesight to a man with a very weak heart? etc... Which is why kshatriyas were entrusted with the responsibility to protect people enforce laws, vaisyas had to trade so the community could prosper, shudras had to grow crops etc, so the people can be fed and brahmin had to be the moral compass and source of knowledge to the community. However, the Brahmin could not own wealth, had to beg for food so he could stay humble etc.

    Each of the varnas had dharma unique to them and there were dharmas common to all. It is unfortunate that with the British invasion, the Brahmin was one of the first to fall for material comforts. When the moral compass for the society does not point in the right direction, is it possible for the society to head the right way? Thus, the culture that lasted through the mughal invasions, fell, not rising again yet. Yes, man has much more material comforts, but is it making him happy?

    Also, the concept of equality does not arise when you understand that no work is demeaning or more elevating than others. For the vast majority of us, to get through the day, we need food, love, security and knowledge. Would it be fair to say that one is eternally more important than another?

  16. What equality in opportunity are we talking about these days? How many people get into IIT? 3000? 4000? What about the rest? Do they pursue technical education or enter a different stream? How many people are performing tasks in their everyday life that they are not trained for? Please note that I am not advocating that all people should not have opporunities. All I am trying to say is that all jobs are equally spiritually liberating if you wholeheartedly believe in it. A useless Brahmin will live a useless life and relinquish the righ tto be identifiedas such. A kshatriya can be a great trader if he so desires. A sudra can be a great warrior if he is so inclined etc. But, how soon can a child know what he wants? Isn't it better if he is already trained during his adolescent years in his family vocation so that when he is old enough to understand what he is capable of, he has atleast some vocational education imparted to him?

    The scriptures forbid man from changing his varna if he believes that the other varna is superior. However, if he has a proclivity to different tasks, he is free to do so.

    I hope to hear your perspective soon.

    Sorry about the long-winded reply.

  17. @Jai Gottimukkala:

    If you were to ask me if I belive Hinduism can exist if the present day caste system ceases to exist, then I would say, yes! It will. If you ask me if India can exist if the present day caste system ceases to exist, then I would still say yes, but that India will be different (the optimist in me says that it will be good).

    Now, who will be the ones most likely to suffer if the caste system fails? Politicians and other ephemeral players in this country. Is that a bad thing? Never!

    Now, when will such a thing happen? I think that a country is what its vast majority of citizens are. Instead of finding differences between us, we should find things that unite all of us. We should find ways to involve all communities in different activities. It can be building a place of worship at grass roots leve; all the energy wasted in demonstrations every other day on the streets can be better channelized to improve the lots of poor people. All round education that teaches English, Math, Science, holy texts of local religions, meditation, sports and community services will open minds. All these activities will go a long way in ensuring that people will feel ashamed to ask for crutches because they will realize that you cannot run with crutches; and if you cannot run, how can you be free?

    When was the last time any politician we know have worked/even mentioned working towards any of these goals during elections? A free TV and promise of more entitlement so he can earn more in the next five years is now the rule rather than the exception. Only if enough people are wide awake during the next elections and make their choice clear...

  18. Jai GottimukkalaMay 19, 2010 12:04 PM


    Thanks a lot for your well thought responses. I share your belief in a polite discourse (unlike you, however, I retaliate in kind if the other guy is rude)!

    As I am running low on time and attention level today, I will limit myself to a couple of items I fully agree with you and follow it by a few posers.

    a. I liked your using the term “Sanathana Dharma” as I believe it is a better description of the religion than “Hindu” (a geographic term)
    b. Your support for the concept of dignity of labor. I like it when the American plumber thrusts his hand out in greeting and cringe when addressed as “sir” by junior colleagues in India.

    Now the posers:

    1. System: Every system should have built-in mechanisms to ensure continued performance and improvement. These controls must be self enforcing, not depend on individuals or groups (This concept is similar to risk management in project management)
    2. Optimism: An “institutional optimist” believes that life will always improve with time (in a medium run even if not immediate sometimes). This necessarily means that our great grand children are better than us, we are better than our fore fathers etc. (This idea is to some extent derived from the above)

    I will appreciate if you can provide your thoughts on these two points. This is not intended to divert your attention or waste your time but to set the tone for further debate.

    Regards: Jai

  19. An intriguing sircasm on Caste census:

  20. "According to him, Our ancient caste based society attaches lot of moral responsibility to each individual towards the society. Each person contributes himself towards every event within society. Every skilled worksman is a specific Brahmin f.g: Nayi-Brahmin is skilled only in salooning, Vishwa-Brahmins are skilled in Pottery, jewellary etc, A Niyogi-Brahmin"

    Hey "The Open Terrace" you are a racist....sorry i was not able to conclude anything else....

    so you want to add more legitimacy to your argument by bringing in students from IIT as if they are gods ...good

    I agree with this blog article that there must be caste based census will help profile people...i want to see how bad these cast lovers can get in this age i want to see their sophistication or innovative ways of suppression in this age of computers and super computers....

    I think the data collected by "Unique Identification project" can be used in combination with other data sources in government to get information on caste of individuals. I think there is no need for caste based specific information for census i think.

    Census is a direct way of obtaining information on caste but there are alternate ways like "Unique Identification project"

    We do need data to make intelligent decissions. its a different matter whether these decissions are in the best intrest of citizens of India....or cast lovers.

    This data in the hands of race fanatics is a very very potent tool.....just like they do haress muslims based on their population count and their rate of reproduction this data will give very important directions and stratigies to sanathan race fanatics. I wont be surprised if this data leads to systematic genocide or racecide in MODREN GLOBAL SUPER POWER India.

    "Varna system, as described in Hindu scriptures, is NOT discriminatory and was coded to ensure that people lived happily and the society flourished because of the strengths."

    I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with above statement.

    In India caste is created for one reason and one reason only to save and protect genetic identity of particular race of people...

    The higher up you are in caste the purerer you are towards that particular race. The rest are of different race.

    Purer races enjoy the most oppurtunities and resources of this country and the rest are delegated to down the value chain jobs......very intresting...

    Out of the race people are on the boundaries and are delegated to the least resources to survive or enslaved or killed. If possible eliminate these aboriginal people so that nobody will question purer races for their rights on resources and oppurtunities. Surprisingly these resources were forcefully grabed/occupied from these aboriginal people.

    The feudal system in India is different from the rest of the world. Indian feudal system is based on race and not on wealth.
    The feudal lords in Europe, Japan, China were bad but many did love their race and were benevolent towards their race, many did love their white race than their wealth.

    But in India feudal lords were only from purer races many of them did love thier race and wealth and hated and enslaved aboriginal race.

  21. @Jai Gottimukkala:

    While I do not want to deviate from Sujai's topic, I am happy to share my thoughts since you are kind to ask them. If you are refering to Varna dharma as a system (I might be mistaken), then the scriptures lay down a set of rules; there is no law that will force anyone to follow it to the word. Ofcourse, each varna exerts its own pressure to follow it (threats of excommunication, loss of respect etc.) and in that sense, the varna itself acts as a self-enforcing mechanism.

    Yes, I strongly believe that our children's lives should be better than ours. I believe that life will always "improve" with time, but that improvement should be both materialistic and spiritual. You can only please your body so much; everytime you please only your body and senses, you lose touch with your sould. Which is why materialistic happiness is actually a sorrow because you lose in touch with your inner, playful, creative spirit in your quest. I believe that my parents and grandparents are no less happy/contented than I am and I hope that my children will be so too.

  22. @blueshift:
    I completely agree that this caste based census in the hands of our dirty politicians will lead to a lot of problems down the line.

    I also notice that you disagree that varna system described in the scriptures is not discriminatory and seem to be of the firm opinion that it was intended for the welfare of a supposedly "superior" class. I will try to dispel this misgiving.

    The fundametal premise of the varna system is that no job is better than the other. As a means to ensure taht everyone realises bliss in their work and get in touch with their inner selves, and through it, attain god (after killing the ego or ahamkara), different sets of vocation was prescribed to different people. Care was also taken to ensure that no one set of people practising a particular vocation enjoyed supremacy (both on an existential level and at an atmic level). If a particular person could shift to another vocation because of his talent, he was free to do so; transferring to another varna because of his mistaken belief that the other varna was superior was not encouraged. Ultimately, what is needed is not uniformity of action but unity in thought.

    Please let me know if you have any issues with my explanation. I will be very interested in knowing your thoughts and if your opinion differs, then your explanation and any possible references.

  23. blueshi(f)t,
    "by bringing in students from IIT as if they are gods .."
    You are suffering from Chetan Bhagath Syndrome. Get a couple of high voltage electric shocks at your head to forget the memories of that stupid novel "5. something".

    "... innovative ways of suppression in this age of computers and super computers...."
    So in this age of computers you don't expect such things. Ever scratched your knees and wondered "why the countries that invented those computers are religiously biased and why they consider 'whites' as superior race??". Stop scratching now, people will think that you are suffering from scabies !!

    "I think the data collected by "Unique Identification project" can be used in combination with other data sources in government to get information on caste of individuals. I think there is no need for caste based specific information for census i think."
    Better don't strain your knees thinking that hard any further otherwise you will be the first person who will get brain tumor in the knees! First know that Census happen every 10 years and 2010 census data would be used by the UID project as well. The caste data is a new column introduced in this decade census and this entire fucking debate is happening for including that column in the census data. There is nothing like a separate Caste census, UID project census and some other fucking census separately happening here. Everything is as part of 2010 census only.

    "We do need data to make intelligent decissions. its a different matter whether these decissions are in the best intrest of citizens of India....or cast lovers."
    So according to you there are two sets of people in India, The citizens and The Cast(e) lovers! Vow, what a gyan, what a gyan...!! (clap, clap...). Are you born to some Alien and directly landed in India just today? Let me educate you that, more than 99% of marriages happen here based on Caste and Religion and thsi happen because all of this 99% people love their caste\religion. Any doubt? go to haryana and stand in front of a khap panchayat to educate them, only to get murdered!

    "...MODREN GLOBAL SUPER POWER India" Wake up kid, that is still a far away dream, First live in reality!!

    "I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with above statement"
    You know what? That's the only intelligent statement you issued in your lengthy post. Rest everything you said after that is just crap! And first stop confusing yourself like an earthworm in a bowl of sphagetti trying to desperately fuck! You need to know that Caste and Race are completely different, No, no, I am not talking about the 'Race' movie (and stop ejaculating remembering Katrina and Bipasha), I am talking about human races something like Aryan, mangolian, Dravidian etc! Go kid, go! Go back to school and educate yourself. This ain't a place for ya fellas !

  24. shim,
    Are you a disciple of Osho Rajneesh baba or Swami Nityananda? Only these two fuckers combined hardcore materialism with spirutuality.
    Sorry to say this, but somehow, thinking of you, am imaginary picture appearing in my mind that of a man sitting in front of his wife's spreaded legs and teaching her spiritualism and asking her whether she experienced an orgasm!
    PS:- Stop confusing yourself and the rest of the world by seeking materialistic spiritual bliss through spiritual means :)

  25. @vasu:
    No, I am not a disciple of thse two abhorrent beings who have played with faith and trust of their followers. In fact, if we had the opportunity to know each other better, you would understand that I do not believe in god-men. I do not know why I gave you that mistaken belief.

    I meant to share my opinion in good spirit and not to proselytize/advise/cheat. If you do find the explanation of the scriptures offensive and not in tune with what the fake reformers and saints and politicians would like us to believe, I will be happy to not share them with you.

    If you had indeed meant no offense, then it is very pitiful that there are so many charlatans that the first image that one gets when reading about explanation of the scriptures is that of a morally corrupted man preaching it to them. Too many fake messengers have corrupted the message.

    Could you be kind to explain this sentence "Stop confusing yourself and the rest of the world by seeking materialistic spiritual bliss through spiritual means :)"

  26. Shim:
    Your point is well taken about varna system etc and all the good things written in the scriptures related to Sanatana Dharma. The question then why still there is so much of disparity between the different castes. A religion is judged depending on how the people are treated in it(in my opinion). Sure, the scriptures have all the good things.... so do the scriptures of all other religions. Yet there is no such discrimination ( atleast not as much in magnitude compared to Hinduism) between people based on their birth.
    Now you'd say that people have misused the varna system. What's the use of such scriptures/system that do not guide/treat everyone equally?

  27. Caste census should be conducted as I alreay said because we still are not immune to it.

    And regarding the varnas about scripture, no I don't think they were blemishless. May be people fond of it are bending it a bit so as to suit the present day - or may be not. Could not know unless someone quotes from the scriptures, referring not just a few occurrences but all the occurrences. By the way remember the words of Arjuna who in time became the disciple of Krishna, challenged Karna based on his origins. Ok may be he did not challenge him, someone else did, but still he was there indifferent to it.Well, my point, IT WAS NEVER GOOD.

  28. Jai GottimukkalaMay 21, 2010 3:29 PM


    I do not want to deviate from Sujai's topic either. My questions are aimed at bringing us back to the subject (possibly in a circuitous manner).

    As I understand your stand is:

    a. The varnashrama dharma was designed to reconcile merit (best person for every job) and equality (no discrimination, all persons are equal irrespective of the work they do).
    b. The current situation of discrimination by caste is a recent (possibly last 300 years or so) corruption of the original intent
    c. The change occurred because of misinterpretation or abuse by some individuals or groups who assigned hierarchy and prevented migration between varnas

    If this is true, the system lacked a mechanism to enforce its core principles of equality & merit. In other words, the risk management plan went haywire. The design was not “fail safe” i.e. the system did not pass my poser # 1.

    I am not sure if we agreed on my second poser but let me proceed on the assumption that we did. If “they” could design a great system, surely we can do much better. The fact is we are unable to do so and the one they did appears to have failed to preserve its integrity.

    There is only one explanation consistent with my two posers:

    a. The varnashrama dharma was designed by ordinary individuals with self/group interest at the center
    b. The stratification & segregation are inherently discriminatory
    c. The system was creatively misinterpreted by subsequent generations (“better” people as per my #2) to make it more palatable
    d. In other words, this system is no different from others (divine right of kings, colonialism, slavery, apartheid etc.)

    I am not questioning the integrity of the individuals who created the system. They may have been motivated by the need to do good (like the people who say “the masses don’t know what is good for them). Yes, they did not understand concepts like risk management, democracy etc. which were not yet fully understood at that time.

    I realize that the systems may have evolved in due course rather than being designed deliberately but this difference does not change anything written above.

    Glorifying the past as great is no doubt fashionable these days. I do not subscribe to the view that the human evolution is curving downwards because this will lead us to extinction.

    The French revolution (and other renaissance movements) was instrumental in overthrowing the rigid stratification. I contend that it was not by accident that these accompanied industrial revolution in these countries. Societies that missed renaissance (India, Africa etc.) lost a historic opportunity.

    Coming back to the subject of the blog, I support the collection of caste data in census as long as we are unable to eliminate discrimination. When psephologists build prediction models around caste, why not collect data to support official decisions?

    I am not confident reservations can play an important role in eliminating discrimination due to reasons I outlined in an earlier post.

    Sorry for the long post.

  29. Shim

    The fundametal premise of the varna system is that no job is better than the other. As a means to ensure taht everyone realises bliss in their work and get in touch with their inner selves, and through it, attain god (after killing the ego or ahamkara), different sets of vocation was prescribed to different people. Care was also taken to ensure that no one set of people practising a particular vocation enjoyed supremacy (both on an existential level and at an atmic level). If a particular person could shift to another vocation because of his talent, he was free to do so; transferring to another varna because of his mistaken belief that the other varna was superior was not encouraged. Ultimately, what is needed is not uniformity of action but unity in thought"

    you are talking of something else NOT caste system in India that i know of.

    I dont believe such nobel ideas were responsible for creation of apartheid called caste system in India.

    Is it that suddenly now when you dont like words like discrimination,racisim,apartheid,genocide which took place till now in the name of caste system you are trying to sugarcoat idea of caste system?

  30. @Blueshift
    "Hey "The Open Terrace" you are a racist....sorry i was not able to conclude anything else...."

    Thank you sir! Apart from being a racist, I am also a rapist, murderer, smuggler, terrorist, Maoist, separatist, anti-humanist, anti-animalist, selfish, self centered, doomed, dethroned, drugged, wretched, wrathed human being. I also suffer from Schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder and I live at Everett, Masachessets - USA and post comments as Anonymous, Prasad, Raj, blueshift etc..etc..etc

    Hope I made you happy and contended now :)

    Yeah, with regard to the intentions behind origin of Indian caste based community system, Yes, the gist is same that's why I said "You reminded me of a person..." right at the beginning :). But yeah, I do have different opinion towards Indian spiritualism. Would be lengthy. Shall make a post at my blog soon !

  31. I don’t know what discrimination we are talking about here. With reservations up to 69% (in TN) I doubt if we can call this as discrimination.
    Mandal Commission has been criticized for its data imperfections and wrongly including castes in OBCs. There are ample evidences where MC have goofed up same sub-caste in both SCs and OBCs. Even the magical 52% OBCs population is criticized.
    Why is Taga (Tyagi), Yadav’s been considered as OBC’s? There are many more out there. It’s not inter-caste exploitation; its intra caste exploitation. Privileges are enjoyed by upper strata of the caste (economically) who in turn exploit poor’s. By including OBCs in this list, we’re only getting ourselves sulked in that dirty rabbit hole, again.
    Mandal Commission identified 52% OBCs and 22.5% SC and STs. Which means 75% of Indian population is backward! Great...
    I agree reservations were required. But then efforts were made so that they would improve. I mean proper infrastructure, opportunities in education, jobs. If that was done, then the percentage should be reduced (which increased with MC as against Kelkar commission). If not there’s serious flaws in your execution and no reservations would help.
    What we’re doing is killing meritocracy. But then who will touch this holy cow-reservations!

  32. Shim ,

    if caste was 'profession based' not based on anything else.

    - why would 'racial purity' be so important for marrying ,why would marriage rules insist on the girl being from a certain caste ,a bramhin man can marry a shudra girl ,and his son can become a purohit right?

    -what about foreginers ,did 'sanatan dharma' classify foreigners too into classes ,can a vaishya girl marry a arab trader ,they belong to the same groups right ?

    I believe in our all out effort to defend caste ,we go to the extent of saying "caste is purely economics,nothing else"

    even the most right wing hindus do not believe that class has anything to do with profession ,but purely a means to advance his/her race

  33. Hi Sujai

    Your quote "A casteless society, like a religion-less society, or sexless society, or nation-less world, or language-less country is a pipe dream, something only idealists dream of when they have renounced the real world." These sort of things are not pipe dreams but small steps where humanity is moving towards them.Gradually perhaps it may take another few centuries.But this is the beginning. Like you being an atheist which would be a cultural shock in India about a decade ago.But now society is slowly accepting that albeit silently.


  34. Very well written article! Its true, caste exists in twenty first century India and the sooner we acknowledge that, the better. The ones who keep chiming that urban Indian is casteless are the ones who more likely are insidiously practising it like selecting a spouse from their own caste and forming a close knit circle of friends from the same. I think its high time we Indians stopped having an Ostrich like attitude towards caste and acknowledge the huge role it plays in every aspect of an Indian's life right from birth. We need caste based census on OBCs atleast to ensure that they don't get away with disproportionate representation in reservations.

  35. SHIM,

    First of all your arguments stand quite baseless as you quote scripture rather than logic. Who said son of a carpenter will alone excel in carpentry? An individual is at liberty to choose what vocation suits him best based on the circumstance. Pure law of evolutionary science and that is how species progresses and not by limiting ones skill set. Hinduism and so called sanathana dharma will die a ghastly death pretty soon.

  36. An SC or ST who passes out with 40% can get a seat in IIT, whereas a brahmin need to get atleast 98% for that.

    A Brahmin who gets 40% gets a management seat in a self financing college. Irrespective of reservation this percentage is more in current India.

    Is this the secularism?

  37. A Brahmin who gets 40% gets a management seat in a self financing college. Irrespective of reservation this percentage is more in current India.

    Dear Sir,

    The management quota is open to all and not for only brahmins, whereas the reserved seats in IITs are for only SC and STs. You should understand this. Don;t say that SC/STs doesn't have enough money to pay for a management seat, people will laugh at you. Infact the urban SC/STs are more rich than any other caste. Either you know or not, most of the naxal leaders are brahmins. They turned naxals because this constituency.

  38. @ Krishna R,

    "Hinduism and so called sanathana dharma will die a ghastly death pretty soon.

    This is bullshit and your comments are meaningless. educate yourself and go around your village, state, country then you would know what Hinduism is and what sanathana dharma is. Any fucking idiot or commensenseless creature can say hinduism or sanathana dharma will die ghastly death soon but it requires commensense to see the goodness and godliness in hinduism or sanathana dharma.

    Great indian.

  39. Aasrith,

    When there is no reason only anger comes out as in your case. No matter how much you scream, ignorance and evil will die a natural death aka Hindusim. Only retard Hindus worship animals and their shit and practice blatantly apartheid everyday in the name of Karma.


  40. By the way Sujai what is your surname ? Are u vegetarian ? Do you have any thing other than first name and last name .. Just kidding ..:) :) :)

    Thanks for this article


  41. You inspire me everytime with ur articles..........thanksss..

  42. I have been following your blog for long but commenting for the first time after reading the article about your work in bangalore mirror.

    Be it the posts on this blog, your efforts on Telengana, or your professional work, you are an inspiration to many people.

    Keep up the good work!


  43. New Exam pattern in India (Revised)

    1. General students - Answer ALL questions.
    2. OBC - WRITE ANY one question.
    3. SC - ONLY READ questions.
    5. Gujjars/Jats/ shiv sainiks - THANKS FOR ALLOWING OTHERS TO ATTEND THE EXAMINATION .. !!


  44. Sujai,

    Your blog is a breath of fresh air amongst the deluge of anti-reservationist bigotry and propaganda by the brahminical media.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

  45. What a post! I wish I could post like you. Nice gud job! :).

    Hi! frndz plzz must visit here

    computer solution visit here okkay!
    thnk U!

  46. Dear friends,
    This is one of the most enlightening blogs I have found. Many who have commented will not agree with it. It shows how perception is filtered and skewed by Indian upbringing. People are unable to think logically because of this bias, which has been a legacy of the caste system. Whoever objects to this post or who ever supported the varna system are typical examples of such maligned Indian thinking. The caste discrimination is least in Kerala, a place Swami Vivekanada once prononuced as a mad house of castiesm. The change was brought about by a wave of social reform movements and to a certain extent the policices of the congress/communist governments here. Education and empowerment are the two key paths to remove caste discrimination. Even then, caste based feelings indoctrinated since childhood will not and cannot change, as seen in the comments of many readers

    I'm an OBC studying at National Institute of Technology Calicut- I never applied for reservation. I'm a general candidate here who has scored on par with the meritorious students.I did not choose reservation because of one reason- Good Schooling. I support caste based census. The british survey of 1930's revealed that 40% of the Indian population is OBC. Extrapolating it to the present times, I'm sure that it will only increase

  47. In the initial days, Castism was never by birth. It was "SUPPOSED" to be by the nature of work they do.


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