Archive for June 3rd, 2007

Unity of the undercastes

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

They tell us that 85% of India’s population is “deprived”. Who constitute this magical figure of 85% ? According to them it is the STs, the SCs, the OBCs and the religious minorities.[by all estimates these groups DO NOT in fact make up 85% of the population, but facts are flexible and can be mutilated at will].  They are all deprived. Shah Rukh Khan is deprived. Daler Mahendi [a mirasi, who are considered SCs in punjab] is deprived. Laloo Yadav is deprived. 

The great theory of the century is that these deprived Indians will together rise up to throw off the yoke of “brahminism”How will this new type of revolution come about? Like this 

Or maybe like in Khairlanji, where the victims were dalits and the perpetrators OBCs, whom the news media promptly recast as “upper caste hindus”.

The gurjars are OBCs in rajasthan, so they are a deprived class but their relative deprivation is less than that of the Meenas, who are a ST community. The gurjars are now trying very hard to become more deprived than they’ve hitherto been and gain ST status, by hook or by crook.

In these days of “reservation politics” it pays to organize oneself on caste lines, extend age-old biases, promote superstitions and criminal activities [since the Mandal criterion rewards groups indulging in child marriage with the carrot of reservations], form squads of militant youths and pressurise the government to accept one’s demands.

The Meenas, who’ve cornered almost all the benefits of ST reservation over the last sixty years, are obviously unhappy at the prospect of yielding even an inch from what they consider to be their domain. So we witness caste riots [for the first time in many years in north India] between two organized and apparently militant communities both of which claim to be greatly deprived. Sometimes I wonder how a group which has political clout and money and muscle power and owns land, can be considered deprived?

The government says it will unravel the mystery. The district collectors will collate data indicating deprivation and if the gujjars are truly deprived, then they will get ST status. The Gujjars are quick to reject any such delaying tactics. They point out that the government did not feel the need to undertake any such studies when promising OBC reservations last year. The logic cannot be faulted.  

Welcome to India of the 21st century. Where it is fashionable to talk about caste. And more so if you belong to one of the deprived sections indicated at the beginning of this post. If you belong to the “other 15%”, then be ready to quickly admit the crimes your ancestors have committed for centuries. Feel a lot of guilt. Once they’ve made you feel guilty, they’ve got you and can make you accept almost any demands, no matter how blatantly these fly in the face of logic.

Welcome to India of the 21st century. Where caste = race [no matter that Ambedkar dismissed the suggestion of casteism being a form of racism with utmost contempt]. Where merit = a mythical construct. Where everything must be couched in terms of caste, and where to talk about being a citizen of India is an almost ridiculous proposition [ of course, to talk like a citizen of the world is considered to be leftist romanticisim of a bygone era]. Where there is renewed focus on evaluating individuals on the basis of their birth, rather than each person being seen as an assimilation of several identities. Where your identity is  taken as confirmation of your views [for instance, the widely popular misconception that all OBCs support reservations] Where the focus is not on production of ideas or of money, but on distribution of wealth and powers based on political clout and patronage.

This is the coming of age of the world’s largest democracy.