Saturday, May 19, 2007

Casteism in Today's India

A friend writes, in response to my recent Blog on caste:

"I must dispute that Brahmins and the like are holding the country to ransom. It is the other way around now. Look what we Punjabis have to suffer in Delhi from caste ridden states like U.P., Bihar, Orissa, TamilNadu, etc. In Punjab, being either Sikhs or Arya Samaji Hindus we had all forgotten as to what caste was. Now with the high castes like Thakurs etc using caste to garner votes---Arjun Singh and his reservations in the Universities is playing havoc with our young people in Delhi and Punjab. The so called reservations of seats for OBCs has denied Punjabis their rightful place in the Universities even if they do well, because the quotas are filled by all these guys from U.P., Bihar and so on. Look at the flood of students going for pre grad studies to U.K., USA, and Australia from families that can afford this, only because their kids can't get into the decent colleges at home even if they get grades as high at 93 to 95%. It is high time India adopted policy of all Indians being Indians first and equal as happens in Turkey. That is the only way to ensure and protect Secularism and nationalism. Or else India is headed for further tensions and caste divides".

I have replied to my friend as follows: "I agree with you completely. What we need is not caste-consciousness but love of the country first without regard to caste, point of origin, beliefs, religion, ideology and so on. Only those who believe in and practice violence (whether Sangh Parivar or Muslim extremists or Naxalites) should be brought before the bar of justice when and if they indulge in violence.

Unfortunately, the country is caught in the mix between:
(1) the reverse-discrimination against the upper castes in government and education to which you so eloquently draw attention,
(2) old-fashioned caste-consciousness in places such as in the Bimaru states, where our 3 top castes still lord it over the rest of our people and physically prevent even education from reaching them – that's the majority of our country, population-wise, and
(3) the new caste- and language-based politics of India, specially afer Nehruji unfortunately sanctioned language-based states. There was, after all, a lot to be said for simply drawing straight lines through the country as Europeans did in Africa (making due allowances for towns and villages of course) – though that would not really have solved the problem, as it has not solved it in Africa. What we need is a value system, such as that which Gandhiji tried to teach us, in which service was recognised before self. Unfortunately, Gandhiji's teaching, which sat well with mission-school educated youngsters and other de-traditionalised Indians could not stand against the new western-style greed which has been in the ascendant in the West for the last 20 years or so, and has revived traditional greed in India (at least greed was the traditional dharma of the vaishya caste, which is my own - but the disease of greed has now spread to the whole country)." Sphere: Related Content

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