As Arundhati Roy said, “I do feel a certain terror at how people are forced into an identity. Even this process of what we call democracy and elections is all about, ‘this is this caste, we work for that caste’… its reducing people to a kind of essence which isn’t even them. It’s a terrifying process.”
So, what is caste? No, it is not just the hereditary division of Hindu Society. Not anymore. Caste is now God. It is omnipresent. We can see it in social status in the form of inequality and discrimination, in elections in the form of representations, in the Indian Economy in the form of jobs and wealth, in Education in the form of reservations and even in travel in the form of train reservations.
However, is all this fair to us humans if we look at it generically? Of course not! But why? Hasn’t all this come into being when we ourselves, as a democracy have introduced it upholding our beliefs of equality? History of caste in India goes back to the Mughal Ages, maybe even before that. We can only assume that at the time of its creation, it must have seemed fair to the people.
There is a one in many historical theories which states that people were divided into castes so that they could be assigned specific social jobs for the functioning of the society. The Brahmins were pandits, the Kshatriyas were warriors, the Vaisyas were craftsmen and the Shudras were the cleaners. This system stuck and with time, untouchability and economic inequality kicked in. In the democracy that we are, a need for some kind of special support to the distressed and suppressed classes arose.
But then, isn’t it all still unfair? Shouldn’t education and jobs be merely based on merit? Why should opportunities be snatched away from deserving people and given to others just because of their rough history? In the heat for equality and justice, we never once stopped to find the root of this problem. Isn’t it obvious? If we want equal opportunities for all, we need to lead the caste system towards extinction. Only then can we become a fair and united society.
I think there are two kinds of people out there. First, people who don’t care about the suppressed at all and Second, people who sympathise with them and intentionally try to make a difference in their lives. However, we need to create a third category in which people effortlessly accept those lower to them as their own friends and family. A category in which there is no room for force and sympathy as bonds with all people are formed and sealed with feelings of love and trust which come naturally from within.
So, let’s begin at the beginning and test ourselves. For those of you who have maids or servants, do you offer them the same food you eat? Do you let them use your own utensils? Do you ask them to sit on the sofa besides you? Do you buy new clothes for them when you go shopping? Do you let your children play with their children? If they invited you to their home, would you go? If you went and they offered you food, would you eat? If your child wanted to marry a Dalit, would you be pleased?
If you are truly and passionately against this horrific system, your answer to all these questions would be “Yes” but is it? To be honest, mine isn’t. But this is where the whole trouble brews. This is what we need to work on because in the end, it all boils down to our own mentality. Once we understand that at the end of the day, we are all humans and that we had no choice to determine our birth and status, then there will be no need for these kinds of “reservations” and “supports” for anyone. There will be no dissatisfaction and we will finally be a united society!