My First Encounter With Caste Based Discrimination

Posted by geet isabella in Human Rights, Society
January 19, 2017
Editor’s note: This story is in response to Youth Ki Awaaz’s topic for this week – #SawCasteDiscrimination. It highlights how caste-based discrimination continues to plague the Indian society. If you have an experience to share, write to us here.

Hi everyone. So, here I am, sharing my experience on caste discrimination.  First, I must clarify that I am not a victim of caste-based discrimination because I had the privilege of being born in an upper caste family. I am from Uttarakhand, where villages are inhabited according to caste.

When I was a kid, my mother told me to touch the feet of every elder in our house or elsewhere. I was quite used to this habit, until one day. A certain lady was in our house and I had just come back from school. I got down to touch her feet. Suddenly, she hesitated and gave me an unreadable expression. Then she said that I didn’t need to touch her feet. I was perplexed about why she said so. I went to the kitchen to fetch my food, and I saw my mother offer food to the lady. We both ate it from our plates and much to my agony, as soon as she finished, she asked for some more water from my mother, and then she washed her plate and glass on her own.

And then she left. But I was filled with questions. Some strange questions, some troubling ones. I showered my mother with questions as soon as I found her.

That day I met with the blot of caste in our society. My mother told me that the lady belonged to a certain caste, which was considered inferior to that of ours. Their feet are not to be touched and we can’t even have food together. I was shocked, disgusted and angry. That lady seemed like any other human being. Why does this evil practice even exist? I innocently asked my mother some questions. “Mom, how am I supposed to distinguish the people whose feet are not to touched? With whom can we not eat our food? Do they have some identification mark? Are they aliens?” My mother was speechless after hearing my pinching questions. She just cuddled me and replied with a heavy voice that she too hoped that someday we could consider all human beings equal and don’t feel the need to discriminate against anyone. Some day.

I am totally against this discrimination. We should boycott people based on their actions and not caste.


Image source: Rachel Zack/ Flickr
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