“Everyone comes to my stall to eat eggs, but they don’t want others to know about it, which is the reason I have to sit until it’s dark in the cold to earn my living”, said Naseer Mohammad, a 65-year-old egg stall owner.
Naseer was born and raised in Chawand, a village predominantly populated with Jains, situated 70 km in the tribal belt, at the edges of the Udaipur city. He used to earlier drive buses on the Delhi-Mumbai routes, but as his eyesight got weaker with age, he had to switch to other methods of earning his livelihood.
In the cold winter period of December, he sets up his egg stall late in the night since upper caste Hindus and Jains of the region won’t purchase and eat eggs in broad daylight. He manages to sell 80-90 eggs in his one day of work of four hours, which begins at seven at night. In a town like Chawand, where every shop gets closed by 9 pm, he sits till 11 o’clock on a dimly lit road.
Naseer’s story is one example of the double standards of the existing caste system and religious discrimination in our nation and how these muddy frameworks can hamper a business as small as an egg stall. Only providing reservations and provisions to the backward classes and minorities is not going to help completely change the social dynamics of the country.
Discrimination faced by the minorities of any particular region, based on class, caste or religion results into suppression which hampers the overall development of the country and works against the spirit of democracy. Most of the communities who were considered ‘low’ in the hierarchy, stay low in the social order even today, because we are all contributing in some way or the other to keep this system going. We have spent many years in understanding and debating about the faults in our social system, now we should demand nothing else but action.
Apart from structural and functional changes in Indian society, there is a much greater need for attitudinal changes which are yet to happen and depends completely on us. As Mahatma Gandhi had also said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.