In 1936, the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, a forum established for the eradication of caste, invited Dr Ambedkar to deliver the plenary lecture at its annual meeting. He showed them the contents of the address ahead of time. They had some issues with the lecture and wanted to remove some parts of that speech. Dr. Ambedkar denied the proposal and hence, the entire meeting was cancelled. The Mandal was dedicated towards incremental reform. They focused on encouraging inter-caste dining and probably hoped that social interaction would ultimately lead to inter-caste marriage. But they were not prepared for the denunciation of the entire idea of a religion. Annihilation of caste does not dwell on the horrifying discrimination involved in the caste system and the practice of untouchability. After that Dr Ambedkar published this speech on 15th May 1936.
Nowadays, some people casually say that the caste system doesn’t exist. This is because they belong to an educated, urbanized, middle-class, and English-speaking group of people. They have an easy access to all kinds of amenities. What about others who are educationally and economically backward, living in a rural backdrop? Upper caste people never think about the hardships of a person belonging to the lower caste. This is the real scenario of the present caste system in India.
Caste system prevents the choice of occupation based on personal taste and ability since a change of occupation is forbidden. Caste hinders the growth of large-scale enterprises where intellect, capital and labour should be brought together. The rigidity of caste distinctions is responsible for the tendency of higher classes to look down upon certain forms of labour. The lack of sense on dignity of labour is inimical to economic progress. Education is a particular facet in which there is still a great divide between the castes. Students of upper castes have a much higher literacy rate and perform significantly better in school than their lower caste counterparts because they have better access to quality schools and tuitions. The divide is also significant in higher education. University statistics show a much higher admission rate for upper caste students than lower caste students.
Also, caste works within caste. This is the horrifying picture of the caste system. Recently, I went to Himachal Pradesh to shoot a documentary on the livelihood of tribes in Chamba district. There, I saw an antique scenario of the caste system of the Gaddi tribe. They have caste hierarchy within caste. According to their local leaders, they have Gaddi-Bramhins, Gaddi-Rajput, Gaddi-Holi and Gaddi-Sippi. While the first two groups have been dominant, the other two are peasants. The main occupation of Gaddi-Holis and Gaddi-Sippis is hunting and gathering. They are illiterate and don’t have access to schools. They never enter the privileged group of the society. They live is a different area because of their caste.
So, caste is like a monster in our society. We cannot have any kind of social, political or economic reforms unless we banish this monster. If we want to annihilate or destroy the caste system, we’ll have to reject the authority of Shastras.