Caste and Reservations
subramaniam swamy ( @ 8:50 ) talks about caste and reservations .
- Vaishya and
There are some castes which are considered to be superior ( Brahmin ) and some castes are considered to be inferior ( Shudra ). Interestingly castes are decided even before birth, depending on the caste of the parents the child is automatically born into one of the castes. If parents are Brahmins child is automatically a Brahmin, if parents are kshatriya child is automatically kshatriya and children of vaishya are vaishya and children of shudra are automatically shudra.
In Metropolitan cities of India generally nobody cares about others caste but it is part of Rural society structure where people from some castes ( which are part of shudra caste ) are looked down upon just because they were born to their parents and thus born into a shudra caste ( it has nothing to do with their capabilities ). People from some of the shudra castes were not even allowed to study or gain knowledge and in some cases were not even allowed to listen to anybody sharing knowledge.
These people were not even allowed to own any land or properties, but were expected to do hard labour and be servile to superior castes ( Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaish ). It was worse than slavery in America in nineteenth century or before and it is still prevalent in some parts of rural India, especially in states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and others.
When India got Independence from British in 1947 Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar ( who was from supposedly inferior dalit caste part of shudra group ) and he was a scholar of repute in India and abroad and 1st minister of Law and Justice of Independent India. Most importantly he was the person who wrote constitution of India. As Dr Ambedkar was himself from a dalit caste and he had first hand knowledge and experience of the treatment meted out to dalits, he made provisions in the constitution of India to have a percentage of seats be reserved from the castes belonging to shudra group in government jobs and educational institutes so that people from these suppressed castes can gain knowledge and contribute in society in more meaningful way than just existing as chattel to serve so called superior caste people.
Dr Ambedkar created a provision for reservation of a percentage of seats in government jobs and educational institutes based on caste of the person. some castes are part of Scheduled Castes ( SC ), others are part of Scheduled Tribes ( ST ) and rest of the shudra castes are kept in Other backward Castes ( OBC ). In some states even vaishyas are considered as OBC.
Now the people who do not belong to any of the shudra castes ( SC’s, ST’s and OBC ) obviously have issues with caste based reservation. Various reasons are given like it hinders meritocracy, people from so called shudra castes do not have to work hard to get government jobs or admission into educational institutes, nobody cares about the castes anymore in the cities and so many more. People ( especially youngsters ) mean well generally and right in pointing out that reservations based on caste are creating divisions among citizens of India, unfortunately caste is a reality in India ( even today ) and people from some of these oppressed castes still do not feel empowered to gain knowledge and progress in their own life thus contributing in the progress of society in general – especially in rural areas chains of caste have shackled lot of people – especially dalits.
Also keeping reservations for various castes and giving benefits based on castes is a political tool of the politicians to keep people divided in various groups of castes, religion and region etc ( it is another debate whether the benefits announced in the name of castes reach the people it is intended for ). Basically politicians will not let the reservations go away so something has to happen such that everybody can claim to be born as shudra. This brings us to a question :
- how can this happen when children of only shudra can be a shudra ? How can a child of brahmin, kshatriya or vaishya be considered to be born in a shudra caste. As discussed in first paragraph of this post caste is decided even before child is born ( it is same as the parents caste ).
As discussed earlier youngsters dont really care about caste in cities though it is still a problem in villages. In cities people of TWO different castes fall in Love and get married, have children ( it happens in villages too but very less compared to cities ).
- What will the caste of a child born of parents belonging to different castes be ?
- Will it be fathers caste or mothers caste ?
- but let us say one of the parents is from one of the shudra castes and child is allowed to take the benefit of caste of either mother or father for jobs, education etc. If the government of India makes it legal, to people born to parents of different caste, to pick caste of either parent. There will come a day when everybody in India can claim to be born in shudra caste.
This will effectively end the need for reservations based on caste and make caste based reservation irrelevant one day.
UPDATE : There is a book by Dr Ambedkar called “Annihilation of caste“ ( I am still reading it ) which gives an insight into the casteism of the time ( which is still relevant today ).