Manu, the first socialogist of the World and creator of caste system must be smiling in the heavens that his social divisions have become an effective tool for social, political and economic management of Indian society for all time to come. From the four castes that he had created, we now have about 6000 in modern
There are exclusive organizations not only for Brahmins, Kshattriyas and Vaishyas but also for sub-castes like Nishads, Kurmis, Tailik Samaj (oil men), Jats, Gujars, Yadvas, Pasis and you name it. Our politicians are trying to free us from caste-prejudices using the basics of Manuvad.
In the ancient
Dr. Ambedkar had given a time limit of 10 years for reservation to correct the social anomaly that ended in 1960. However, the greedy politicians in free India thought that people can be herded on the basis of caste. They decided that the caste be the parameter of selection on a post, of election to Parliament and legislative assemblies even village panchayat, representation in the ministry, allocations in the Central and State budgets, admission in schools and colleges, permit, quota and license. They wishfully thought and still think that the castes would vanish and a secular, democratic, secular caste-less society would emerge in this process.
More than 50% government employees owe their positions to caste. Many members of parliament and assemblies even ministers and Chief Ministers are there by virtue of their caste. The goal of caste-less society, if at all it was there, has become no more than a pipe-dream.
In spite of the above, the governments of the day avoid caste based census. They might be thinking we would have to utter, read and write the ‘jaati suchak shabd’ (caste indicator words) but they fail to make distinction between the caste indicator word and the stigma attached to it? It is naïve to think that replacing the caste indicator words would bring respect to Dalits. It is often forgotten that the words mean what we make them to mean. The word scheduled caste over the years has come to carry the same meaning as the ‘Harijan’ of Mahatma Gandhi. Has exchange of words brought about any change in the mental attitude of people.
If you do not believe, go to a village and tell a Brahmin or Thakur and reveal your identity as scheduled caste and ask for a glass of water f. Watch the glass he brings water in. Should we look for a substitute of the phrase scheduled caste? Social equality and respect are linked to social contribution you make. Legendary personalities like Valmiki, Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, Ambedkar, Karpuri Thakur, Jagjeevan Ram, Vallabh Bhai Patel and thousands like them did not beg for respect.
Political leaders are heroes either of their caste or caste combinations. They feel ONLY THEY can be the saviors of their caste. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh did not take kindly of Rahul Gandhi’s visit to scheduled caste families. Yadavas have been made to believe that only Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh yadava can save them. Other caste groups are also herding behing their caste leaders. With this scenario, the caste barriers are sharpening, the social harmony is disturbed and chasing the dream of caste-less society would be endless. I hope our leaders know what they are doing.
(originally published in H.T.)