Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cast in Caste

The ugly head rears up again. I was in the eighth or ninth standard, when we had just 30 days of school in the entire year. The rest were spent happily at home, when all other adults were seriously debating the Mandal commision's recommendations and its implementation.

This "caste" based politics once again is dominating the political landscape of India. Now, it is no longer simply a political issue. Its an issue that will define India in the future. If the reservations are implemented, we will give the world the signal that underneath our sophistication, we still are uncivilized.

A National Commision for Backward Classes is now coming into force. I wonder why use the term Classes at all. Does Class means caste? Is it the politically-correct term? The guidelines that the NCBC uses to determine the inclusion into the OBC list are an eye opener. Most of the definitions can be used for any castes, including the forward classes, since the criteria are mostly economic-based. I am sure that all castes have their share of well-to-do as well as the economically backward sections. Then how can certain castes completely become Backward classes, whereas others, even though their economic status is on the bottom, be called as Forward classes? Beyond comprehension.

While I can agree that caste continues to have importance in personal issues like marriage, it would be laughable if somebody says that it matters in daily life. Do you go to a shop and ask the shopkeeper his caste before buying?

[appended after posting]
I found out that calling a person by his caste name is derogatory and is considered punishable by law. this applies only to certain castes. I, for one, can never know which caste is forward or which one is backward. I belong to a "special" backward class - the "intellectually backward class!
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