The Cancer of Caste

in The Indian Consciousness

Continued from: "Idiotic, Ugly and Repulsive: The True Face of a Drunken Person"

The Tenth Episode - Satyameva Jayate 
Today’s show was on such a knotty knot that India has not been able to find its solution over the centuries. I don’t want to suggest that segregation does not exist in other societies; but nowhere else in the world it is so systematized, sanctioned and accepted as it is in our country. The Indian psyche is a specialist in drawing lines, in ousting people; in feeling repulsed at others. It’s truly cancerous. Caste-ism, sense of segregation, these lines deeply drawn on our psyche over the centuries are so deep that we don’t even grasp our inhuman attitude, our cruelty, our Nazism, our fascism. It has become our way of life.
We can change the scene; place the individual in urban, ultra modern situations but the mind that we carry within ourselves is weakening our religions, our society, our country. The natural questions which arise are - ‘Whose India are we talking about? To whom does this country belong? What’s freedom? What’s the meaning of this freedom?’  When we don’t accept our own compatriots, we are challenging our nationhood. Our concept of country, one country is at risk.
The marginalized has every right to say, ‘It’s your freedom, your dignity, your development. I don’t belong to the space where you belong. Therefore, I’ve nothing to do with your rules, your society.’
This chasm between the so called lower and upper castes is simply suicidal for our country. It won’t take us anywhere. 

A society starts decaying when it stops questioning itself. Change, as they say, is the only constant. Then why can’t we question and change certain tenets of our religions and give our religious life a new boost? Why can’t our religions be more gender-friendly, eco-friendly and above all people-friendly? Why, on earth, do we have to shun people from places of worship? This is the land which sang, ‘Jat-pat puchhe  nahi koi; hari ko bhaje so hari ka hoi’. Our Indian culture is so soft, so receptive, so flexible. Why can’t it embrace its own people?
The relevance of the topic of the episode was indeed larger than the show. In the limited time, Aamir touched various dimensions and aspects of the problem fearlessly. This is one area where people usually don’t enter. Temperatures run high. The stakes are high. The positions are fixed. But the show did justice as much as it could.
Dr. Kaushal Pawar is a Professor of Sanskrit at Delhi University. She has broken huge barriers in one go - a woman, an SC getting educated in the prohibited Deva Vaani, Sanskrit and now teaching it to others! Great! I really wish that the show would have treaded just a bit more and advised achievers like Dr. Pawar not to hate the so called upper castes because it forms a vicious circle and the division of society gets permanent. Reverse racism is as bad as racism. If an SC boss tortures a general category subordinate simply on because s/he is ‘superior’, the boss is actually permanently scarring the social landscape.
The show kept itself to regular lines.   The rigidity of the Sanskritized Brahiminical order established itself when Pandit Batuk Shastri from Varanasi declared that the constitution of India does not match religious texts and therefore he does not believe in the rule book. He said that he is a ‘pucca’ Brahmin, a ‘pucca’ Hindu’ and he believes in the caste system.
People generally speak out of selfish interests. What’s right, what’s wrong – these are too farfetched ideas. Generally people like to protect their self-interest. Shastriji was no different.   Propriety was not his forte. He simply wanted to protect the benefits he’s getting by being a priest at Varanasi. His very existence depends on the caste structure. If people from other castes were to become priests at Varanasi, he might lose his job and a very lucrative job, we must say.
Mr.  Balwant Singh, an IAS from UP left his job because of discrimination. Mr. P.L. Punia, Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes narrated the incident when he went to temple in Odisha just to prove the constitutional point that no one can be denied entry anywhere on the basis of caste.
Mr. Stalin K. Padma has been working in this area for decades. He has made a very effective film ‘India Untouched’. He made certain very poignant points that the downtrodden have been undergoing this ragging for over centuries and the society at large calls it frolic. His movie showed children of the downtrodden sections, how they accept and compromise with their inferior status. Children who go to school for studying are made to clean toilets because they come from so called lower castes. Discussing the issue is one big step towards solving it. Sharing food and matrimonial chords can be two other steps.  But it’s easier said than done.
Justice Chandra Shekhar Dharmadhikari told that his own caste ousted him for not being a casteist. He beautifully said that the human being gets lost under labels of caste, position etc. It’s important to keep the human being alive.
Rampal from a village in Rajasthan came as a hero because he succeeded in getting his sons-in-law come for wedding riding on a mare. Earlier, only the so called higher castes enjoyed this privilege. He was helped by a general category police officer, Mr. Manvendra Singh. A proud Mr. Manvendra Singh also made an appearance on the show. Mr Bezwada Wilson also came on the show. He is a true crusader against manual scavenging. 
At the end, we have to accept that there is no scientific basis for the caste system. The whole human cycle cannot be based on one biological accident. Dignity is as important as breath. The blood of humans can only be divided into four groups. All the groups are found in all the castes.
I wish to add that it is not that things have not changed at all. Things have changed and they have changed for the better. Yet, much remains to be desired. Humanism is the biggest religion. All other religions are modes to reach this final destination called ‘humanism’.  Kabir, Sufi poets, Ravi Das, Basavanna from Karnataka - there’s no dearth of exalted examples in our country. Gandhi, Vinoba, Ambedkar, Vivekananda - we can take inspiration from all around.  But one thing is final - Caste is wrong.  The show was simply excellent and it touched a topic people usually don’t dare to touch. 
Continued to "Age with Grace"



More by :  Prof. Shubha Tiwari

Top | Opinion

Views: 3432      Comments: 13

Comment ye bahut hi accha he

nice one shubha
15-Oct-2012 14:14 PM

Comment Thanks Shubha for sending a real picture of the society but slowly it is removing. Work is worship............"NO BADA NO CHOTA....EVERYONE IS EQUAL" but due to vote bank it is highlighting a lot by politicians otherwise everyone is running their life with sweet and sour no caste conflict come in the mind, if it come again because of "RESERVATION SYSTEM.............WHY NOT FOR QUALITY........OR FOR EDUCATION ONLY..............WHY FOR FOR SERVICES?..............."
"Kabhi ambedeker jayanti pe maharashtra jaker dekhiye...status pata cahl jayega...............kya train.......kya bus........kya road...........kya aapka ghar..............sub freely use karte hain or .................." sorry i am not in fever of it but such kind of attitude demands some system..............some where it is essential but by work not by caste............

Dr Rajeev Singh
05-Oct-2012 01:39 AM

Comment It is very difficult to remove caste names. See even Dharmadhikari's children are having the same name Dharmadhikari. Then they get respect because of the name. Otherwise how will they get respect due to their grandfathers and fathers ?

21-Jul-2012 13:11 PM

Comment Ambedkar who championed the cause of Dalits was virtually ignored on the show. Here is an interesting quote from Ambedkar which is an eye opener on the impact of casteism on the Indian psyche:

“Under Hinduism scavenging was not a matter of choice, it was a matter of force. What does Gandhism do? It seeks to perpetuate this system by praising scavenging as the noblest service to society! What is the use of telling the scavenger that even a Brahmin is prepared to do scavenging when it is clear that according to Hindu Shastras and Hindu notions even if a Brahmin did scavenging he would never be subject to the disabilities of one who is a born scavenger?”

Pradip Savant
18-Jul-2012 20:04 PM

Comment Till such time casteism is not eradicated, the masses of India will keep suffering as slaves in one form or the other.

18-Jul-2012 20:01 PM

Comment Did Gandhism kept manual scavening alive?
The answer to this question can be found in what Mahatma Gandhi wrote himself in Harijan in 1934: “I call scavenging as one of the most honourable occupations to which mankind is called. I don’t consider it an unclean occupation by any means. That you have to handle dirt is true. But that every mother is doing and has to do. But nobody says a mother’s occupation is unclean.” And yet again in another titled "The Ideal Bhangi" in 1936, “My ideal Bhangi would know the quality of night-soil and urine. He would keep a close watch on these and give a timely warning to the individual concerned. Thus he will give a timely notice of the results of his examination of the excreta. That presupposes a scientific knowledge of the requirements of his profession.” Perhaps Justice (retired) C.S. Dharmadhikari was either unaware of these quotes or deliberately overlooked them to laud Mahatma Gandhi pesudo role to fight the social evil of manual scavening.

Roy D'Costa
18-Jul-2012 19:56 PM

Comment I have overlooked all the articles above, but it seemed to me just preaching or an essay written on the subject. In realty, it makes no sense to eradicate this menase. We will have to stratch our hands whole heartely and take them in our huges connecting with them Roti Beti Rista and start inter- caste marriages. Besides this Balmiki societies needs to change them, stop drinking habits and all that habits which identify them and puts them a marginalized part of society. Manphool Saini Jind

Manphool Saini
16-Jul-2012 03:58 AM

Comment Although I am not from SC caste but my colour is somewhat dark so I have had this type encounter taking me as Chuda or Balmiki in childwood. It pained me but I could not understand what is it exaxtly. When I grew up I felt tremendous pain not only for me but for the major part of society who undergoes this situation every day for the non of their fault. Dr. Kaushal should not mention all that who made me weep for non of my fault. I wish I could marry my lone son with her who is an eng. Pl. convey my wish.

Manphool Saini Jind
13-Jul-2012 08:43 AM

Comment Sorry as my point is not clear. I want the so called progressive elements
to pressurise the Government to bring uniformity which is enshrined in the
constitution.ALL marriages should be registered and divorce can be only based on a uniform law; one people one law;states to be organised based on their economic viability and uniformity etc. Yadha Raja thadha praja.In Prajarajyam(?)Yadha praja thadha Raja i.e. our Elected representatives. Mind you I am not a member of the so called sanghparivar (though I pity BJP cadre for being led by such stupid,shameless and self defeating 'leaders').

11-Jul-2012 02:10 AM


> At the end, we have to accept that there is no scientific basis for the caste system. The whole human cycle cannot be based on one biological accident. Dignity is as important as breath. The blood of humans can only be divided into four groups. All the groups are found in all the castes.<

This is a very interesting generalisation as would, if applied to the whole of humanity, make of our planet earth one country with one people – with four groups of blood. One picks up this ideal in most areas of human experience, even from schooldays. Everybody is the same, because we are all human beings. If so, why is the earth divided into so many separate nations? Why the aspiration for an independent Tibet if Tibetans are human beings like the Chinese? Why an independent Scotland, if we are in Britain basically all the same people? In a multi-ethnic society like that of Britain, there is an approach to that ideality in equality of all citizens before the law, and all that implies. Yet, the basic differences in cultural terms are zealously preserved by each ethnic group; that is concerned that its children are 'straying' into the ways of another culture. In every large British city there are distinct ethnic communities that in a sense preserve them; and this under the heading of one British society.

It is quite clear the logic of 'no scientific basis' for difference of any kind that distinguishes human beings from each other is specious. Difference is there, it is one with the characteristics of an ethnic type; or, as in India, it manifests itself in the distinctions of caste, which cannot be so rationalised away, even by application of rationally based laws. Though the phenomenon of inter-ethnic marriage in a given society proves a measure of social integration, it is generally the case that it is within the square brackets of that particular society, one that differs distinctly, as an American differs from a British, an Indian from a Pakistani, from another national society, so as to constitute again an impediment to the realisation of the ideal sameness of us all.

09-Jul-2012 17:56 PM

Comment unfortunately my earlier comment is not published, did it made no sense ?


Dear Haribabu, you suggest that all caste system should be dissolved, all regional & language associations should be dissolved, all religious and regional holidays should be cancelled to bring uniformity among Indians.

Did you consider the fact that in such a case, such 'uniform system' will itself' become religion, will itself become 'caste' and holidays introduced by it will become its religious holidays !!

In other words, you can't skip it. Systems are build to help society get a certain way of living, which otherwise each individual would have to identify !

The remedy is to ensure a balance between parts of the system.

And continuous escalations of the situation, such as one covered in episode of 'Satymev Jayate' further imbalance the situation, which otherwise is seeking to get balanced since long.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
09-Jul-2012 15:55 PM

Comment It is wrong to say that there are classes only in India.Mr. V Haribabu is right that our rulers are trying to keep the caste system alive. Why the Govt does not abolish all classes or castes, because it wants votes on the basis of caste. There were classes even in Communist USSR though communism professed to be classless society. Till 1960 racism was prevailent even in USA. Even now the white do not like to stay in towns dominated by Blacks like Newark in NJ,Oakland in CA and many more. Aaamir Khan is doing nothing special, he is just keeping his show alive.

Suresh Mandan
09-Jul-2012 15:35 PM

Comment Caste consciousness continues today not because of people alone. It is kept alive by Reservations. Just like Shasthri(why 'ji'?) will not give up
his 'preisthood', no BC,MBC,or SC/ST will give up his 'Quota'. P.A.Sangma
wants to be the 'first' ST President.K.R.Narayanan was applauded for being the 'first'SC' President. Mrs.Prathiba Patil is toted as 'first'
woman President. Are they unfit to be President otherwise? MGR took a small step towards 'de-caste'ing by removing the caste names from street
names. Though this led to some funny situations (like Dr.Nair Road became Dr.Road) it is a welcome move. You may say that I am anti democratic but
my suggestions are:Dissolve ALL caste,regional,language associations;
remove Reservations;cancel ALL religious and regional holidays; make Education COMPULSORY and UNIFORM.

09-Jul-2012 02:40 AM

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