Thursday, April 14, 2016

Caste Based Politics in India - POV1

A popular politician said she does not like caste based politics in India and that her party does not believe in caste based society. A day earlier, on July 12 2013, HC banned caste based rallies. Probably, that was the reason she thenceforth does not like caste based rallies. This statement came two days after she addressed a Brahmin rally and one day after HC banned caste based rallies in India. When I called it bluff, a question popped up from somewhere saying what makes me think she believes in caste based society...

Made me think - Maybe she doesn't really believe in caste based politics in India and maybe my views are biased. Let's check it out here. 

The previous leader of that party had a vision to equate all castes in the society. But in the Indian society, caste system is so deep rooted that inter-caste relations often break strongest of bonds and even lead to honor killings. Forget others, even my 'liberal' family saw months of tension when younger brother said his girl friend belonged to a lower caste.

Anyway, we are not talking about the entire caste system in India here. It just cannot be removed by any law or regulation. It cannot be removed in a day or two just by putting some people in jail. If it has to happen, it will be a very long duration - spanning decades - reform. People need to be educated on respecting fellow human beings to remove any kind of divisions in a society - be it caste based, religion based or economy based. People need to be trained mentally in a manner that they don't even think of these divisions. That is possible only if the people leading them - the politicians, intellectual leaders etc - start ignoring caste etc divisions.

However, the way our country is moving, I can see politicians further emphasizing caste system and religion divides thereby creating further rifts. After all, different castes are/were different vote-banks and caste based politics has been in India since pre-independence era! Among the many kingdoms, there were kings who organized elections for different posts even much before India became one huge mess of a democracy. The people were selected by kings and people were to vote for them in a way that the one most preferred would get that post. Even then, people were influenced by caste and voted mostly to "their own" instead of "merit".

Coming back to the present, the above mentioned lady politician came to power more than once in the Uttar Pradesh region of India. Let me make it clear here that I am not a political pundit and I do not have much of statistics. But still, if the vision of a caste-less or rather, equal-rights society of B R Ambedkar was to be carried on, there should have been some work on the issue. Right? All we got was distorted constitution in India, reservations plus widening rift among different religions and then castes. All for sake of politics!

I do not know what exactly this lady did for the dalits, the so called lowest section of caste based society on which - her party depends to get political power. She, if wanted a caste-less society, would have empowered the dalits. I never heard of she implementing any special plans for them and other down-trodden castes of the society.

There are central government schemes already in place: A reservation system that takes care of many things related to down-trodden, lower castes and poor; an employment scheme, a self-employment funding scheme and even some education scheme for downtrodden. If you are a dalit (or for the matter, some scheduled caste or backward caste) and you scored even 1% in the IAS, you are sure to get an administrative job - irrespective of whether you can do it or not. The quota system will make sure you override any brilliant but undeserving general caste person to get that job!

The least that our politician - in question here - could do was to educate the dalit (votebank) about the existing policies and help them enjoy the benefits. But did that happen? And if that itself did not happen, what else schemes did the so called (transformed in 2 days) propagator of caste-less society do? The fire and the feeling that these castes were oppressed in the past is kept burning and I'd say it is these politicians who keep them reminding that they are different, that their great grandfathers were oppressed, that once upon a time, they were untouchables. 

Ambedkar changed many things. Society now has reduced many barriers - though not completely: There is a long way to go before we forget castes and religions to accept our humanity first. That would be possible only if people forget the past. But when they are made to relive their pasts in accounts of political speeches, books and textbooks etc, it is hard to imagine that such divisions will ever be erased. It was "amusing" to note that government school books explained in a chapter about how a person from different religion in India did not get a home on rent until he changed his name.

Coming back to our leader's comment that she does not believe in caste based society, what did she do for the very people of lower caste on whom the party counts for votes? Did they build schools? Did they build better shelters? Did they ensure employment for them? Most of the schemes that they say they implemented are ones run by the central government. And they too, do not provide any kind of respite.

At ground zero, this section of the society still lives in one room houses. Their children suffer due to lack of proper education and some do not even make it to the world because of health problems. All because of the caste based politics in India that keeps them uninformed of the many government schemes they can benefit from. If they know they can get good schooling because the law says so, will they suffer? No. But the information is not provided to them. Rather, they are told stories on how their ancestors were oppressed.

Instead of building schools, ensuring employment etc, this madam went ahead to build parks, statues etc monuments to create a history for "HERSELF". This is the only aspect I saw of her rule - or probably the only aspect projected by media. Every major city has a park named after Ambedkar. The park contains few statues of elephants, the party symbol and of course, a statue of the politician in question.

I may be missing on the schemes she started and the help she might have extended to the dalits, who vote for her. After all, I depend on mainstream media for news and maybe the media neglected her "good" side. If I did miss anything good, please drop me a note so that I can make corrections accordingly. The above is not because of my hate towards politicians or my love towards the downtrodden.

When Will Their Living Conditions Improve?

The post is about how politicians change their colors per the situations. The post is about someone asking me what makes me think that the said politician and her party believes in a caste based society. The post is also about India's HM who right after taking oath, thanked the supremo that he - who is a dalit - was made the Home Minister of India. With such factors, caste system and caste based politics is here to stay for long. With such mentality, all the political parties will sure make use of the castes and caste based politics in India. And not only that, they will make sure the mentality prevails - for eternity.

PS: Not intended to hurt anyone. If it does, I apologize in advance. If you want corrections or your POV added to the above, please contact me directly.

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