Despite claiming to be a secular nation that has equal tolerance for all of its citizens, India continues to have a relationship with caste and its related discrimination. In fact, a recent survey found out that over 30% of Indians claim to still practice untouchability. And to those who consider these acts to be prevalent in backward villages, it may come as a shock to find out that caste discrimination is very much a part of urban city life as it is in the rural regions.
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The survey also pointed out some startling facts. In addition to every third Hindu who claimed to practice caste untouchability, it was noticed that even Muslims, Christians and Sikhs who advocate brotherhood and equality, practice untouchability. As such, it can be understood that no matter how far India travels on its path to development, the battle against caste continues to be an uphill task. Coming across as a stick baggage, it can be very difficult to dislodge, especially in social settings.
India cannot eradicate caste but can learn to live with it
There is no denying the fact that the land we call as India is an amalgamation of many identities, with caste being one of the more prominent ones. While some live by its rules, others use it as an instrument for their own political ambitions. Case in point; in the Indian elections, it is quite common to see people voting for their caste rather than choosing the candidate on merit.
But there is also a section of the Indian population, that although accepts the existence of caste in India, choose to not abide by its rules and rather, allow it to be just another one of the many labels that they sport. These individuals think of caste as just part of their normal lives and do not let it get in their way when choosing friends, colleagues, employees, political leaders, or even their life partners.
They choose to applaud anyone of any caste for his/her achievements as well as reprimand those who are in the wrong, irrespective of the latter’s caste. To these individuals, caste is just another identity that stays with them forever, and yet does not interfere with the way they lead their lives.
In a nutshell, caste will remain with Indians for many more years to come. The only way to make it matter less is to change it into a form of mutable identity, like a badge one would wear to school and back. Doing so would also reduce the hate crimes associated with caste that we have become so tired of hearing about these days. While many Indians are yet to reach this stage, some have already started doing it, and creating a ripple in the process, which would eventually turn into a wave that would wipe off caste discrimination forever from the Indian landscape.
Caste discrimination continues to be a common practice in India, with nearly all faiths practicing it on a daily basis. While there is no way caste can be totally eradicated from India, one can choose to turn it into a mutable identity that doesn’t carry much voice in his/her day to day decisions. This alone, would help India abolish caste untouchability in the long run.