I refer to my earlier post Colour Bias and also Jim Walton’s post on the same subject. You will see from the posts as well as the comments on both the posts that the problem is quite complex, though I have tried to be light hearted in my responses.
This morning’s Times of India carried an article that will be of interest to all who are interested in the subject. The Indian caste system being equated to racism, while appearing to be rather logical, is likely to lead to more complications in India than would appear at first glance.
Indian politicians have been playing the caste card and affiliations with panache to further their own interests. Simply stated to build vote banks by offering sops to various castes. The single most visible tool used for this nefarious purpose has been the so called affirmative action to further the interests of the so called backward castes, by the simple expedient of reservations of jobs in the government, seats in institutions of learning and even in electoral districts. India must be the only country in the world, where a group of people, incidentally of all hues of coulour, but of the same caste, agitate to be classified by fiat as backward, most backward etc. I would like to be corrected on this observation and invite contrary views.
What this divisions have achieved is dividing the society rather than uniting them into a cohesive whole. It is a straight forward fight for privileges based on a quota system. Politicians of all hues have exploited this division with great success and the most comic of all results has been effected.
The Brahmin caste which was the first to be targeted lost a lot of its influence and importance as a direct result of such policies that were implemented almost immediately after our independence from Britain. Over the last five or so decades they have numerically become among the poorest and have moved into cities to become taxi drivers, petty traders, milk deliverers, construction workers, and, hold your breath, public toilet cleaners and maintainers.
Dalits (translated to mean the oppressed) in the meanwhile were explotiting the opportunities made available to them and were also becoming politically important. While the Brahmins were moving Southward, the Dalits were moving North.
The in-betweens were consolidating their own interests. Almost all atrocities against the lower castes were being carried out by the non Brahmin intermediate castes for their own ECONOMIC reasons. Nothing else was responsible. The upward mobility of the Dalits was galling as they were purchasing property, sending their children to schools, and generally becoming economically important, and this was perceived as being at the cost of the intermediate castes who said, that they would have benefited had the Dalits not been given the support from the powers that were!
The latest political development that is likely to have far reaching consequences is the coming together of the Dalits and the Brahmins who share discrimination at the hands of the intermeidate castes. The political ascendancy of Mayawati, a Dalit leader has been made possible by the two extreme castes in the spectrum, coming together!
Politicians are now running scared with the possible permutations and combinations that will now evolve with the latest development and the Amnesty’s salvos will not help matters any.
In any case, I personally believe that it is inaccurate to equate casteism with racism. It is a superficial assessment of the differences. The issue is far more complex than that and bias based on race simply does not arise.
The solution, in my opinion, and in the opinion of an increasing number of thinking Indians is to do away with all quotas and reservations based on caste, religion and gender and become a truly secular nation. I am told that it is a pipe dream and our political class will never agree to this most sensible idea.
Like I suppose, everywhere, there is political shenanigans taking place to divide people one way or the other. India is no exception. I hope that JW will now give a second look at our situation and offer his own take, having been in India.