Cast(e) your identity!!

maxresdefaultOn 14th of April, we celebrated 125th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar. Each and every political party with their vote banks in UP, Bihar and other northern states fought tooth and nail to claim itself as the heir apparent of Ambedkar’s legacy. But, are we not completely ignoramus about, what ambedkar actually stood for? Ambedkar, the man who framed indian constitution had a vision of india’s freedom which was most revolutionary because it calls for the annihilation of caste, which is more fundamental than economic socialism. I am astonished to see that no political party talks about annihilation of caste today, why is it so? If Ambedkar will only be remembered as the framer of constitution and not as a man with a vision of real egalitarian indian society??

Major political parties in india have a narrow prism of vision with a focus on caste politics. Whether it is the famous M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) equation of RJD for Bihar or a mixture of dalit-brahman of BSP for UP. Everyone has its own winning formula. Casteism is so much entrenched in indian society, that I feel no shame in accepting that we all have become a part of this feudal, abysmal and parochial mindset. Many articles have been written and will be written on this sensitive and crucial issue, but no one knows the threshold point of that. In fact, recently I read an article by mehghnad desai i.e. being a hindu which revealed the naked truth of casteism and its implications.

You don't belong[5]Today’s indian society is divided into three tiers i.e. General, OBC (other backward caste) and SCs (Scheduled castes),STs (scheduled tribes). After this vertical division there is a horizontal division of different castes within General, OBCs and SC-STs. Then, there are sub-castes within a particular caste. The irony is, after all this complex and mind-boggling divisions, we call ourselves united. What an hypocrisy it is!! But, this is not the complete picture, now there are practices of untouchability in the name of caste, battle of supremacy for your own caste, honour killing in the name of caste, a countrywide debate in the name of caste based reservations and what not!

Whatever I said is not my own conjectured philosophy but backed by ample amount of facts. In its edition of 29th November 2014, the indian express published a recent caste survey(on front page) conducted by the National council of Applied Economic research and university of Maryland, US across 42,000 indian households which revealed that one in four Indians admit to practise untouchability. Also, untouchability is most widespread in hindi heartland (UP, Bihar, MP, Haryana etc.) according to the survey. In fact, lead researcher Dr Amit Thorat acknowledged that Caste identity is sticky baggage difficult to dislodge in social settings. For further details you may read.

Also, the british National daily The Guardian in its news on 19th October 2014, mentioning lynching of a dalit child, underlines the fact, that curse of caste still blights india and how caste equations shape national and state politics in UP and Bihar. Whether it was Ranvir sena formed in 1990s to supress dalits in Bihar or a debate on caste of Narendra modi during general elections, this newspaper has mentioned various aspects of casteism in this news. The prevalent practice of honour killing in Haryana and UP has its root in caste system, where proponents of caste chauvinism like khap panchayats in Haryana, advocates that any rebellion against caste hierarchy must be quelled.

15601Now, is there any hope to get rid of this downtrodden caste based society? Yup, there are! Some sociologists in india believe, that rapid urbanisation of india has somewhat weakened the caste system, as overcrowded society with a mixture of different castes, need to thwart caste notion, for gaining social acceptance. But, we have miles to go, that’s why PM Narendra Modi in his maiden independence day speech, called for a 10-year moratorium on caste and communal violence to make india surge ahead on the road of development. Ambedkar stated that the problem of untouchability would be laid to rest if caste system were destroyed, that’s why he invoked Buddhism to counter social hierarchies of Hinduism. We should encourage inter-caste marriages to counter curse of casteism as in a judgement by supreme court regarding violence and intimidation against inter-caste marriages, the bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhan and Markandey katju said: “The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed, the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time, when we have to be united, to face the challenges before the nation. Hence, inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest, as they will result in destroying the caste system.” A meticulously designed modern education with a firm focus on ethics, morality and virtues will be an effective weapon in the hands of future generation to fight the evil of casteism.

Friends, we are crusader of new india, the modern india identified by the famous roar of MAKE IN INDIA lion across the world. We are the captain of our ships, we see every indian as a fellow indian, irrespective of his/her caste, religion and creed. We all have a single and common caste, that we feel proud to proclaim i.e. INDIAN as we all are the children of mother india. So, folks with these dreams in my heart I am signing off to gear up and return again with a new kind of blogging style, it will be a specific topic from next time!! Oh, I just forgot to tell you that, I belong to caste called INDIAN.

About Ravi Shankar

PGDM, IIM Bangalore, Class of 2017
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