After the 60 year of independence, there is not any improvement in the cast system in India, everybody followed the old caste system, while we know that there are too much evils in our caste based system. Actually we got freedom physically not mentally and socially. If we are not free by mind than we can’t get freedom in actual means. That’s why there is a need of revolution which gives us freedom socially as well as mentally.
The caste system in India is a social system where people are ranked into groups based on heredity within rigid systems of social stratification. In the ancient time caste was a group whose members are restricted in their choice of occupation and degree of social participation. But today Social status is determined by the caste of one’s birth instead of occupation. The main evil of this system which has developed in modern India that is untouchables and Marriage outside the caste is prohibited. First let us consider the caste system in modern India and ancient India.
Caste system in ancient India
The Indian term for caste is Varna or jati, which generally designates a group varying in size from a handful to many thousands. There are thousands of such jatis, and each has its distinctive rules and customs. Varna refers to the ancient and somewhat ideal fourfold division of the Hindu society: (1) the Brahmans, the priestly and learned class; (2) the Kshatriyas, the warriors and rulers; (3) the Vaisyas, farmers and merchants; and (4) the Sudras, peasants and laborers. Initially all categories were equal and there were no upper and lower class, no untouchables and marriages was not prohibited. For Example King Chandragupta married with a Sudra Girl, Wife of King Shantanu was also a Sudra’s daughter, but this custom has not continued and some evils come in to the old system and the fourth category was converted in to the untouchables.
Caste system in modern India
The leaders of independent India decided that India will be democratic, socialist and secular country. According to this policy there is a separation between religion and state. Practicing untouchability or discriminating a person based on his caste is legally forbidden. Along with this law the government allows positive discrimination of the depressed classes of India.
The Indians have also become more flexible in their caste system customs. In general the urban people in India are less strict about the caste system than the rural. In cities one can see different caste people mingling with each other, while in some rural areas there is still discrimination based on castes and sometimes also on untouchability. Sometimes in villages or in the cities there are violent clashes which, are connected to caste tensions. Sometimes the high castes strike the lower castes who dare to uplift their status. Sometimes the lower castes get back on the higher castes.
In modern India the term caste is used for Jat and also for Varna. The term, caste was used by the British who ruled India until 1947. The British who wanted to rule India efficiently made lists of Indian communities. They used two terms to describe Indian communities, Castes and Tribes. The term caste was used for Jats and also for Varnas. Tribes were those communities who lived deep in jungles, forests and mountains far away from the main population and also communities who were hard to be defined as castes for example communities who made a living from stealing or robbery. These lists, which the British made, were used later on by the Indian governments to create lists of communities who were entitled for positive discrimination.
The castes, which were the elite of the Indian society, were classified as high castes. The other communities were classified as lower castes or lower classes. The lower classes were listed in three categories. The first category is called Scheduled Castes. This category includes in it communities who were untouchables. In modern India, untouchability exists at a very low extent. The untouchables call themselves Dalit, meaning depressed. Until the late 1980s they were called Harijan, meaning children of God. This title was given to them by Mahatma Gandhi who wanted the society to accept untouchables within them.
The second category is Scheduled Tribes. This category includes in it those communities who did not accept the caste system and preferred to reside deep in the jungles, forests and mountains of India, away from the main population. The Scheduled Tribes are also called Adivasi, meaning aboriginals.
The third category is called sometimes Other Backward Classes or Backward Classes. This category includes in it castes who belong to Sudra Varna and also former untouchables who converted from Hinduism to other religions. This category also includes in it nomads and tribes who made a living from criminal acts.
Of course this segregation of category was with positive attitude of the government at the time for implementation. But after the implementation of new rule reservation which caste wise create a new problem in India and this step given a new tension were created because of these positive discrimination policies. The high caste communities feel discriminated by the government policy to reserve positions for the Backward Classes. In many cases a large number of high caste members compete for a few places reserved for them. While the Backward Classes members do not have to compete at all because of the large number of reserved places for them compared to the candidates. Sometimes in order to fill the quota, candidates from the lower classes are accepted even though they are not suitable. Sometimes some reserved positions remain unmanned because there were few candidates from the lower classes causing more tension between the castes. Between the lower castes there are also tensions over reservation.
Main question is this that after the implementation of new caste system and the reservation is good for the society and after 60 year of the freedom the evils of ancient caste system being far away from the society. Is this untouchability free India, after the reservation both the classes upper and lower living together, is there being the prohibition of marriage? This is not bad for our country that those castes which was fight against English government under the one flag today they are fighting. Is it not that after the reservation evils of caste system increased in India.
But question is not of what is bad or good. It is the way it is used, implemented and taken up that makes it bad or good. In India reservation was and is used to please some people and get quick votes, be it SC & ST provisions in constitution which was originally meant for 15 years or implementation of Mandal commission after its lying in cold storage for years. There are many aspects of reservation. It is a fact there are some strata of society who need support to rise from their current status of poverty or backwardness. Not all of us who have not seen deprived life know they really know what a backward person faces in her/his life.
However there is opposition for reservation because the benefit of it is are not going to actual people rather they are taken up by some people of these society who are already in upper class whereas actual needy people are still at the same place. No one will object if a really needy get the benefit, Most of people are furious since it is someone who is not needy who is reaping benefit. There are many arguments in this reservation issue:
1. Instead of caste basis, give it on economic basis: As far as making economic condition as criteria is concerned, there is always good and bad of all thoughts. Good about this will be that this should be the correct way to decide for giving help however there are too many lacunas in this as getting certificate for economic background is very easy to get since no one file income tax return and there is no proof of incomes for people other than salaried people so what will happen ultimately is again people who do not deserve the benefit will get it and needy will remain eluded with this.
2. Incompetent people in jobs: I agree that when it comes to job then what we need are competent people in jobs to provide proper service and let our country grow. It is wrong to say the people who need help to rise first time are not competent but what is required is that we bring them up and educate and train them so that they are competent enough to take up the challenges.
3. What about other type of reservations: why there so much hue and cry about backward class reservations, do everyone really want selection of students on merit basis? If yes, then why there is not no one appear to oppose the other kind of quota called as management quota or NRI quota. if all the protest is based on the concept of merit, will the protestant also oppose the private medical and engineering college; giving birth to so called meritorious students by engulfing a big price?
We have to swallow bitter pill that India is still not free from Caste, gender and religion bias. To remove it we need everyone at equal social status. We need healthy education that can clean our prejudices. We need reservation for those who really need that and we need a surname free India so that Eklavya & Arjuna both can serve the nation equally without any bias.