By Syed Wajahat Ali
Caste is an instrument of exploitation. Indian society is a full-fledged caste dominant society. Varna system is used as a caste system in India and these two terms are used interchangeably. Sociologists like M.N Srinivas and G.S Ghurye observed that caste is a notion of Aryans and that they introduced caste in India. Both of them conceptualize Indian society through Indology and Structural Functionalism. On contrary, Ambedkar, Periyar and Kancha Ilaiah have observed that caste is a major factor of Indian society which is oppressive in nature.
Incidents like Una- caste-based violence and the institutional murder of a young Dalit scholar ‘Rohith Vemula’ in the University of Hyderabad shows the reflection of varna system existing in a ‘progressive’ democratic country.
How the caste hierarchy gets penetrated into our mind is a matter of vital concern. I experience the oppressive nature of caste in Indian society every day. I have observed casteism in various forms. Probably in April of this year, I was around the central canteen area in Jamia Millia Islamia, I came out of the library to have a cup of tea. I had tea and moved towards ‘Lal Chowk’, a famous landmark for Jamia political activists. There is a Lal table near Lal Chowk, where I saw some wastage like empty packets of snacks and some disposal cups. I threw it into the dustbin and I said, “When will the students of Jamia learn this?”
One of the students who is supposed to be a member of the left-wing organisation said, “ Wajahat there is some garbage on the opposite table, go and throw it.” He commented in a way of making fun of mine.
I replied to him, “I am a Dalit and of course I will throw but comrade! This statement shows the reflection of a caste system that a particular work is entitled to a particular person.” This is how the division of labour on the basis of caste is reflecting through a fun moment but is it really a matter of “fun”?
The institution of family is responsible for the existing evils like caste in the society. I observed the feminist scholars like ‘Oliver’ and ‘Okins’ who are the view that gender, caste and class-based discrimination is also an outcome of the family teachings. A caste system is related to the institutions of marriage, family and religion.
‘Discourses on Caste’ is about the equal rights with full-fledged dignity. It might be true that the mode of caste-based discrimination has changed; oppression is even verbal. Sociologist and social anthropologists have endorsed ‘caste is a dynamic notion’.
I have observed the social inequality in a form of making fun of a particular gender, caste and class. There are some intellectuals who claimed that caste system is not in its original form in democratic India. On Contrary, caste changes its mode of oppression but still exists in Indian society.
Caste-based recruitment for the president’s bodyguard reflects the thrust of the caste system in India. The recruitment exposed through public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Haryana resident Gaurav Yadav the petition filed through advocate Ram Naresh Yadav. Only three caste groups people are applicable for recruitment. The castes, Rajputs, Jats and Sikh Jats were invited for it.
The Delhi High Court had sought the response of the Centre and the Army chief on a petition alleging that only three castes are considered for recruitment to the President’s Bodyguard while hearing the PIL. The recruitment followed an arbitrary classification of caste. This stands in complete violation of Article 14, 15(1) and 16 of the Constitution of India. Caste oriented recruitment is against the supremacy of the Constitution of India and against the notion of equality, liberty and justice. This is unconstitutional, illegitimate and against the basic doctrine of the Indian Constitution.
Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar in his undelivered speech Annihilation of Caste (1936), explains that inter-caste marriages and interdining is not enough to annihilate caste.
Hence caste-based oppression is the everyday reality and we cannot deny it.