This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Khushbu Sharma. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Brahminical Patriarchy: Why Justice Katju’s Defense Of Caste System Is A Farce

More from Khushbu Sharma

Former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju’s comment on the ongoing ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’ row is self-contradictory. Recently, Twitteratis went berserk over Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s picture holding a poster that read ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’, which was gifted to him by one of the Indian women journalists during his visit to India. Justice Katju took to Twitter to express his disappointment.

Expressing his disagreement, he also wrote an article on Why not smash the myths around ‘Brahminical patriarchy’ first? The article fails to distinguish between Varna vyavastha from the caste system, which are essentially two different but overlapping domains. Division of labour is not a problematic deal, but the question is- who is the person (or a group of people) to decide this ‘division of labour’? Who gave them the authority to decide who will do what?? Should division of labour and choice of vocation be based on birth? Is it justified to punish people who are willing to change their profession and are not ready to accept this superficially imposed division of labour? Is one vocation higher than the other and should people be discriminated against based on the nature of their jobs? Why can’t a person belonging to the Shudra community (lower caste) perform rituals in temples?

Even if we do accept Katju’s arguments that aims to ‘break myths around Brahminism’, can we call the caste system a liberal, flexible, and voluntary institution? Does it allow every individual to chose what he wants to? I don’t think he has the answer for this. Caste is essentially a closed institution which not only decides the people’s profession, but also their cuisine, dressing, habitat, status and standard in society at the time of their birth itself. Such an institution doesn’t even allow individuals to make basic life choices. Katju claims that this system led to the extraordinary development of Indian civilisation! Really?? How can a society be called developed if it doesn’t allow the majority to harness their potentials and realise their capacities and talents? I suggest him to read Jawaharlal Nehru’s work that reflects on how the varna system led to the moral, intellectual and material degradation of the society. Therefore, his justification of Varna and caste system is a farce!

Further, Justice Katju tried to validate the point that slavery also led to the development of ancient Greek and Roman Civilizations. Everyone understands the evils of slavery and that it can never lead to any development as it kills the individual’s creative consciousness and makes them physically and mentally handicapped. These individuals who were slaves might have made a far more significant contribution to those civilisations had they not been enslaved. Caste institution in India, as Jyotirao Phule writes, is nothing but a form of slavery.

The title of the article is ‘Why not smash the myths around Brahminical Patriarchy’, but in the entire article, there is no discussion, argument on patriarchy and status of women in the society! Justice Katju must understand that criticising Brahminism or Brahminical system doesn’t mean attacking the caste itself, but slamming a feudal mindset which tends to give validation to an unequal, unjust and hierarchical social order. A Dalit can also be Brahminical in his mindset. Therefore, he shouldn’t be offended from these terms. A person becomes Brahminical from what they think and not from the caste in which they are born. People from so-called upper caste need shouldn’t take this as a direct personal attack on them but as an attack on a poisonous thinking which makes them feel superior and others as “lower”.

Also, Brahminical Patriarchy is something he needs to understand rationally. The so-called “upper castes”, always considered them to be superior and they take pride in the name of purity of their castes. The purity of caste means purity of blood, as according to them they have the purest blood and others have “ganda Khoon”. To protect this purity of blood, they put restrictions on their women as they are the primary vectors of this purity. Their entire “izzat” is confined to their women. And this is the root cause of patriarchy in this country. Otherwise look at the tribal societies and many agrarian classes, they don’t have this farce concept of ‘izzat’ in their minds as for them honour means nothing. They don’t have ‘honour’ because they are already denounced. This concept of keeping women in ‘purdahs’ (veil) and behind the walls of the house has contaminated the so-called lower sections of society as a result of ‘Sanskritisation’. Therefore, Brahminical Patriarchy translates to a mindset that has been nurtured by both caste and patriarchy. And, this is the root cause of exploitation of people from ‘lower caste’ and women.

You must be to comment.
  1. My Opinion !

    A bishop, Franco Mukkal raped a nun over the years. On bail, he received warmed welcome by hundreds of thousands of followers. Which kind of Patriarchy is this? Should we call Christian patriarchy?
    What do you call a person who has given triple talaq? A Muslim patriarchy?
    has nothing to do with caste or religion. It is everywhere. Don’t be involved in the blame game.
    Don’t try to defame or slander any community.

    1. Khushbu Sharma

      @My Opinion!!!.Thankyou for your kind suggestion and response. I don’t think in the entire article, there is any sort of Blame-Game or Defamation of any Community. I don’t think you have read the entire article properly, you are judging the article from its title. In the piece also, I made it very clear that Calling someone Brahminical is not a comment on any community, it is a word which indicating the mindset. If you have a feudal mindset,giving legitimacy to an unjust social order, no matter which caste or community you belongs to you are essentially Brahminical. Similary, if you are a Brahmin by caste but your mindset doesnot allow you to be a part of such an unjust social order, you are essentially non-Brahminical. Also, Patriarchy is Patriarchy no doubt, but it operates differently by changing in different circumstances. So looking at different contexts, we need to point out the specificity- the.kind of patriarchy operating in a particular kind of social setting!!
      Thanks.

More from Khushbu Sharma

Similar Posts

By priyanka gulati

By Akanksha kapil

By Shruti Jairaj Singh

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below