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Rigid societies are still against mixed marriages February 2, 2010

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New Delhi: India seems to be shedding off its caste prejudice when it comes to tying the knot. Though exact figures for 2010 have still not come in, estimates put it at 5,862 across the country, showing that the trend is still on the upswing.

The touch of caution, however, seems to be in place. According to data, traditionally rigid societies are still holding out, while those with reformed movements seem to have embraced the change. Social justice ministry of Mukul Wasnik gives an incentive of Rs 50,000 to each such couple. The tally, however, only registers those who come forward to claim the incentive.

Hopefully there are more.

Kerala and Karnataka have also registered good absolute numbers at 996 and 600 in 2009 and promise to repeat the show.

Haryana, for all its ‘khap panchayats’ and honour killings, seems to do well with 94 marriages in 2009, 129 in 2008 and an estimated 80 in 2010. The same applies to MP with 199 in 2009, 117 in 2008 and 95 in 2007. In sharp contrast, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Punjab and West Bengal seem unaffected by the winds of change.

The data also underlines a frozen social reality. Experts say Gujarat and Uttarakhand are known to be strong hierarchical societies and absence of marriages between SCs and non-SCs may reflect a political attitude.

Pradeep Tamta, MP from Almora reserved seat in Uttarakhand, said, “Even if there are mixed marriages, the government does not want to be seen as incentivising or promoting them. It is politically fraught.’’

This may be true for Gujarat too. Experts say it is impossible that mixed marriages don’t happen. “Maybe, people are scared of the publicity for fear of a caste backlash,’’ said Vivek Kumar. Importantly, the high rate of inter-caste marriages in South may still not include upper castes as part of this change. The 1911 caste census of Madras Presidency put upper castes at 2%, which may mean that most marriages are among OBCs and SCs.

Real “castelessness’’ is still a long way off. Experts say that “hypergamy’’ (male from Dwija castes) has religious sanction while “hypogamy’’ (woman from upper castes) would mean the real breaking away from stratification.

Bengal, on the other hand, is the unknown entity vis-a-vis inter-caste tie-ups. The communist system, with no belief in caste, records no figures. But this bit of progressive culture could be hiding a disturbingly static society.

Publication: Times of India Mumbai; Date:2010 Feb 01; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1


Maharashtra tops inter-caste marriages with Dalits February 2, 2010

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Subodh Ghildiyal & Swati Mathur I TNN

New Delhi: The figures may be more impressive than they appear at first glance going by the depth of caste divide in the country. India saw 4,750 inter-caste marriages, involving Dalits, in 2008-09, while the number was slightly lower at 4,205 in 2007-08. In 2006-07, the count stood at 3,945.

Though absolute figures for 2010 are awaited, the estimates from states have put it at 5,862, showing that the upward trend has not slackened. These are no mean numbers, given how entrenched caste prejudice is in society where marriage still remains a largely insulated institution.

Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra lead the chart, registering around 1,000 for three years. In 2010, Maharashtra promises to double its figures to 2,214. Experts may caution against premature celebrations and counsel deeper investigation, but the numbers point at a trend that is perhaps gathering momentum.

Moreover, the fact that the couples in these alliances have stepped forward to document their marriages speaks volumes of the cast-iron social compartments loosening. After all, it was Bhimrao Ambedkar who advocated “intermixing of blood’’ as a way to reduce caste animosity.

The devil, however, may be in the detail. Vivek Kumar, sociologist in JNU who tracks Dalit trends, says, “The numbers are impressive for sure. But you have to scratch the surface to see how many such ties are between OBCs and SCs. Also, in SC-upper caste marriages, one has to find out how many of the women are from the upper castes.’’

Publication: Times of India Mumbai; Date:2010 Feb 01; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1

Maharashtra govt to give Rs 50,000 for inter-caste marriage February 2, 2010

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Jan-12-10 10:02pm
Those couple opting for inter-caste marriage will be gifted Rs 50,000 by Maharashtra Government.

This decision was taken by state cabinet on Tuesday,with the view to abolish caste system in the state by encouraging inter-caste marriages, an official from CMO said. Earlier, the amount was Rs 15,000, he added.

The government would give a cheque of Rs 20,000 and invest Rs 25,000 in postal savings scheme, Indira Vikas Patra, in the name of the couple. The remaining amount would be given in form of marriage expenditure or household things, the official said.

The government has been implementing the scheme from 1958 and 50 per cent of the fund is given by the Centre.


19 September – Rajiv Goswami Balidan Divas October 5, 2009

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If we remember the term Anti-Reservation, we also remember Rajiv Goswami. I think his saga is best explained in these words of an author:

The students did everything to attract the attention of the conscious sections of society to the perceived wrong done to them by a callous political establishment glued only to its votal interests. But no one was looking at them; they shouted and cried but no one was listening. For the entire adult world of intelligentsia and intellectuals, the countrywide youth protest was a non-evening, not more than a minor fracas in a football match. The total apathy and all round silence was turning the students’ rage into consuming flames.

It happened literally on September 19, 1990 when Rajiv Goswami, a student of Delhi University, doused himself with petrol and set his body afire in front of his college. This single event set the hyper-sensitive youth on the fringe of alienation, aflame all over the country. Protest suicides by the young, including school children, through self-immolation or otherwise spread like a raging virus in wide areas throughout the country, taking a toll of around a hundred tender lives between September and November 1990.

Ref: Page: 88, India: Twilight at Midday (Untold Story of a Sick Society), By: Shashi B. Sahai, Gyan Publication House, New Delhi. ISBN: 81-212-0532-8

After self-immolation, Rajiv Goswani remained sick and ultimately died many years afterwards without any name and fame.

We will always remember his sacrifice. Rajiv Goswami still represents the burning passion in Indian Youth which tries to make changes in our nation – fighting the corrupt and divisive caste based politics.

Govt looks to ensure Muslims, Christians don’t get into SC list October 5, 2009

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Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN 9 October 2008, 04:43am IST

NEW DELHI: The proposal to give Scheduled Caste status to a child with either parents as Dalit has taken a curious turn, with the Centre making changes to ensure that it does not give a backdoor entry to Christians and Muslims into the SC list which is restricted to Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.

Social justice ministry has revived the proposal by which it plans to make a child eligible for SC status if either the mother or father are SC. It seeks to undo a Supreme Court ruling that caste in Indian context flows from the father, clarifying that child of a non-Dalit father cannot be a Dalit.

After hanging fire for over two years, during which it attracted opposition from different quarters including National Commission for SCs, the ministry has modified the proposal with a small twist of real consequence.

The earlier draft merely said “the child born of inter-caste marriage shall be taken as belonging to SC if either of the parents belong to that community”. It has now been modified to include that “if either of the parent belong to such a caste (SC) and the other parent belongs to neither SC nor ST but professes one of the religions which a person belonging to SC may profess”.

The fresh move means that SC status to children from mixed parentage would require the non-Dalit parent to be either Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh. Only the followers of these three faiths are eligible for SC status.

The change, sources said, is to accommodate concerns over the proposal. It was feared that if SC status was made available to a child from mixed parentage, it could undo the religion barrier put on being a Dalit. While Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam have been demanding that SC category be extended to them, the Centre has found it too sensitive to handle. It was feared that Hindutva outfits would oppose the move as they have been arguing that making Dalit status religion-neutral would encourage conversions.

If a child with either parent as Dalit was given SC status without a bar of religion, it would be tantamount to encouraging the same, it was argued. The sensitivity of Dalit status for converts can be gauged from the fact that UPA government has it on the backburner after having set up Rangnath Mishra commission to examine it and having got a favourable recommendation.


Legality of raising creamy layer bar questioned in SC October 5, 2009

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Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 15 October 2008, 04:02am IST

NEW DELHI: Educationist P V Indiresan on Tuesday threw an open challenge in the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the UPA government’s 
recent decision to raise the creamy layer income limit from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh for OBCs.

But, the government told the apex court that it had done a reasonable job by fixing the creamy layer exclusion income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh at a time when many elected representatives had demanded raising it to Rs 25 lakh.

Appearing for Indiresan, who had challenged the 27% OBC quota in Central educational institutions, senior
advocate K K Venugopal told a 5-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that it was an election-eve vote bank politics to appease the rich among the OBCs, who could now gobble up the seats meant for the poorest among the backward.

“You file a separate petition if you want to challenge the Centre’s decision,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, C K Thakker, R V Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

While agreeing to file a separate petition, Venugopal pointed out that on February 23, 2007, the apex court had quashed a Kerala government decision to raise the creamy layer income limit to Rs 3 lakh terming it too high. The court had felt that those having Rs 3 lakh income could not be termed poor or backward, he said.

“Has the inflation rate touched more than 80% for the Central government now to decide the income limit at Rs 4.5 lakh when just a year back the apex court had turned down Rs 3 lakh limit as unreasonable?” Venugopal asked.

This is intended to widen the OBC net and allow the rich and influential among the backward classes to grab the seats meant for the poorest among them, he said. Disgreeing with him, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the government had fixed the income limit for exclusion of creamy layer at Rs 4.5 lakh after a lot of deliberations.

Venugopal said during the arguments on the legality of 27% OBC quota, additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam had submitted figures indicating that 97.5% of the OBC population had a daily income of less than Rs 80.


Mandal’s angry young face was fading, now gone October 5, 2009

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Posted: Feb 25, 2004 at 0000 hrs

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 24 That one act at self-immolation made him the urban face of the anti-Mandal agitation. But Rajeev Goswami, who slipped into oblivion once Mandal became mainstream and was appropriated by even parties which opposed its implementation by the V P Singh government, had very few mourning for him when he died today at age 33.

Only his old mates from Deshbandhu — he set himself ablaze outside this South Delhi college — and relatives came calling at the two-bedroom flat in Kalkaji Extension to mourn for Rajeev. Leaders who had milked dry the anti-Mandal agitation were nowhere to be seen.

You could only hear the muffled sobs of the aged — his parents had flown down from the US a week ago — and the laughter of Rajeev’s two children — Simran (5) and Aditya, just a year-old — who had no idea that father was gone, succumbing to kidney complications at the Holy Family Hospital where he had checked in earlier this month.

Wife Aarti passed out when they broke the news to her.

On February 22, when they saw their son after three years, Madan Goswami (70) and Nandrani Goswami (62) thought it would all work out. Rajeev had phoned Michigan to tell them to fly home. ‘‘He complained of stomach problems but sounded very happy. He said his health was not a problem. We never expected this to happen. He told us that things would be fine if we came home to see him,’’ recalled Rajeev’s father. Mother Nandrani has no idea how Simran and Aditya will react when they realise their father’s gone: ‘‘He was too young to go. His children don’t even know about his death.’’ Madan Goswami still defends his son’s immolation act: ‘‘I stood by him during the Mandal crisis. Not for a moment did I think that he did anything wrong by immolating himself. The situation and the times demanded it. He did what was required.’’

Rajeev’s college mate Kuldip Mehta — he runs a shoe business in the neighbourhood — said: ‘‘Politics did not fascinate him. Which is why he never aspired for a political career. He believed in helping out people.’’

Vikas Mudgal, also from Rajeev’s batch at Deshbandhu, dittoed Kuldip: ‘‘The fact that nothing came out of the whole struggle against reservations bothered him a great deal. He wouldn’t speak much about it but it ate his insides, added to his misery. That’s why he died so early.’’ Of late, these friends from college hadn’t kept in regular touch. Rajeev too had immersed himself in his brother-in-law’s paint business and had little contact with old friends. But what’s also true is that he dropped off the radar a long time ago. Once the anti-Mandal agitation had lived its utility.


OBCs account for 38.5% of rural population: Survey October 5, 2009

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Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN 14 September 2009, 12:31am IST

NEW DELHI: Subject to politically charged and conflicting claims, the mist over the percentage of OBCs in the population might have lifted a bit 
with an official survey revealing that backward castes account for around 38.5% of the rural populace.

Tamil Nadu tops the OBC chart with 54.37% of rural households (HH) belonging to backward category. Uttar Pradesh has 51.78% rural HHs in OBC bracket. It is 37% in the Mandal powerhouse of Bihar while Chhattisgarh may be seen as a surprise with 50.37% of households surveyed belonging to the OBC category.

Importantly, while a national figure of 38.5% falls well short of Mandal Commission estimates of 52%, they tally with an NSSO survey which pegged OBC population at around 35%.

The findings are part of an exercise which scanned all rural households as part of BPL survey 2002 whose results have come in recently. The results are a dampener for torchbearers of backward politics who believe the OBC numbers are at least 50%.

Congress MP Hanumantha Rao, convener of the OBC parliamentary forum, said, “We want a census. The OBC population is much higher than what rural household survey has revealed.” He said while job and education quota was frozen at 50%, there was need to “expose how OBC population was high but handful of upper castes was ruling the power structures”. The call for a caste census has the backing of OBC leaders like Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

Fifteen key states where backwards are a crucial socio-political factor have shown demographics on expected lines. An extrapolation from rural estimates – which cover almost 72% of the country – for an entire state may dilute OBC share a bit as bulk of backwards are agrarian communities in the countryside.

The survey by rural development ministry gives a peep into OBC numbers after a protracted debate on what really is their proportion in population.

The 52% figure given by Mandal Commission has been doubted as it was based on an extrapolation from the last caste census of 1931 – by eliminating non-OBC communities from total population. The issue blew up in 14th Lok Sabha when a parliamentary committee questioned the rationale of allocation of funds for OBC welfare without knowing the group’s numbers. It called for a caste survey, kicking off a sharp duel among political players and government.

Of the total 67,12,006 rural HHs in Gujarat, 30,09,109 reported OBC status – 44.83%. The exercise in Andhra found 55,35,997 OBC HHs out of total 1,27,52,234 (43.41%); 43,13,699 OBC HHs out of total 92,16,953 (46.80%) in Rajasthan. Haryana (28.16%), Punjab (20.60%), Maharashtra (14.54%) are on the lower side.

The 15 states form the bulk of OBC as their share in Uttarakhand and the north-east is negligible. Accurate OBC numbers are only of academic value in the reservation debate as the 50% quota ceiling makes it unlikely for OBC share to be brought in sync with the proportion of population.

But politically, these figures could be explosive, because while they may not reduce the clout that backward politics has come to acquire, it does limit its projection. The surge in OBC politics after Mandal report only added to their rising authority, with a new crop of backward leaders breaching what were till then upper caste forts like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan and MP.

Tamil Nadu, the land of early OBC assertion, has had strong Mandalite polity for a long time while Karnataka too made the shift in the 70’s.

The survey may add to succession debate in Andhra where the turf war is dominated by Kammas and Reddys, but backwards have a strong numerical muscle.

My comments:

1. If OBCs are only 38.5% of the rural populace, they would be LESSER as a whole, because their fraction would be lower in the Urban India.

2. We get to see how Mandal’s fictitious assertions on OBC population and other statistics were political gimmics and were whole attempt to build another political gate-way to succcess. Caste politics has changed the shape of Indian politics.

3. I believe there is no need for a caste censes as it would only ‘divide’ us more and it would pave way towards more caste based politics. But no government policies should be framed basing on fictitious or erroneous sttistics – as is clear from this case.

The solution is to help the poor and downtroden irrespective of their castes. If people from certain castes are poorer than certain others, and it is really so, then also in this economics based system

Reserving the deserving January 25, 2009

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(Saurav Basu; April 13, 2008)


If we go for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate…..This way lies not only folly but disaster….How are we going to build the public sector or indeed any sector with second rate people?

  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Letter to Chief Ministers, 27 June 1961


The landmark SC decision on the 10th of April, 2008 is being unanimously viewed as a big boost for reservations, since it has upheld the constitutional validity of the UPA’s government’s decision in 2006 to reserve 27.5% of seats for OBCs (other backward castes) in all centrally funded institutions. However, the judgment has also thrown a spanner in the works of the government by making the exclusion of the ‘creamy layer’ from the OBC reservation pie mandatory. This has already set coalition partners fuming. Chagan Bhujwal of the RPI, D Raja of the CPI, Paswan of the LJP and others have expressed dissent at the SC’s decision and have been more than outspoken in their intention to subvert the SC’s intentions through legislation. Apart from this major rider, the SC has also left the case of reservation in private institutions open for future judgment while suggesting the government to review the OBC reservations every 5-10 years. Some experts  also contend  that the judgment rules out reservations at the post-graduate level. 


Pro reservation groups [and that includes all political parties of India] have unanimously attempted to appropriate the judgment as being cent percent in their favor. For instance, Indira Jaising, a lawyer representing the pro reservationists declares “the judgment gives a clear signal that the future lies in inclusive growth, inclusion of SC/ST and backward classes in the halls of higher learning.” She cautiously adds; “It is true that the judgment calls upon the government to exclude the ‘creamy layer.’ This seems to be in line with the Mandal judgment, which also mandated the exclusion of the creamy layer in employment. It was argued for the Union of India, that in order to avail of the benefits of higher education, one needs to be in a stable economic position to arrive at the level or competing for those exams. To exclude them, would be to deny the class as a whole, the benefit of those who could become leaders and peer group motivators .However, that was not to be!”


If she had been aware of past SC judgments, then she would have appreciated the fact that exclusion of the creamy layer was unequivocally directed by the SC in the Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India, 2000 case where it observed “The non exclusion of the creamy layer or the inclusion of forward castes in the list of backward castes will be totally illegal. Such an illegality offending the root of the Constitution cannot be allowed to be perpetuated even by constitutional amendment.”


At this point; we may revisit three of the core anti-reservation arguments. The crux amongst them was constituted by the appalling state of primary and secondary education where functional literacy rates could be as low as 37%. In India Development Report 2002, Kirit S. Parikh had pointed out, “With a literacy rate of 65, we have 296 million illiterates, age seven years and above, as per the 2001 census. The number of illiterates today exceeds the population of the country of around 270 million at Independence, age seven and above.”


The largest segment of the world’s illiterates is in India. The problem was even more acute with SC/ST and some other backward castes. More than half of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households in the country in 1981 were totally illiterate; i.e., no member of the household could read and write.


In rural India, where 80% of SC/ST and backward castes reside the literacy rate [2001] is a mere 59.4 in contrast to 80% in urban India where the majority of the population comprises of the so called upper castes. 


When the court questioned the government’s commitment to the cause of basic education, the government counsel was all at sea – fingers pointing at the much publicized Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which had according to CAG’s report, placed in Parliament conceded that the much-vaunted program on free and universal education has been a colossal failure, a disaster that stems from an almost calculated negligence despite a budget of over Rs. 10,000 crores. The record has been uniformly disgraceful and the Centre owes an explanation for its dismal performance in implementing one of the basics of governance.


Another alarming observation is the steep dropout rate; such that only 10% of the students in Rural India enrolled for primary education eventually go on to complete their basic education. [NSSO Report No. 473 – Literacy and Levels of Education in India, 1999-2000]


The fundamental failure has to be maximally attributed to the Congress Party since it has dominated the corridors of power for over 5 decades now. Is it not a simple piece of logic that children deprived of basic education can never avail the fruits of higher education? Hence, there is absolutely no question of restricting students of the backward caste to the level of basic education. On the contrary, basic education was the most important means to bridge the socio-eco disparities which unfortunately will remain the norm for millions of Indians especially in the rural areas. Their voices will not be heard! And yet pro quota lobbyists allege this move to be means of perpetuating upper caste hegemony over disadvantaged sections of society when the ‘Youth For Equality’ was calling for a crusade against illiteracy and ignorance. 


On the contrary, these sanctimonious pro-quota groups share such a deep degree of bonding with their backward brothers that the former are not ready to relinquish their reservation benefits in favor of the latter despite being the sole beneficiaries of the reservation policy for over 60 years. 


Justice A.P. Sen had explicitly observed in the famous K.C. Vasanth Kumar Vs State of Karnataka (AIR, 1985)  case that “only the privileged groups within the backward classes reap all the benefits of reservation with the result that the lowest of the low who are stricken with poverty and are therefore socially and educationally backward remain deprived through these constitutional provisions…”


This elite class or creamy layer amongst the backwards, who usurp all the reservation benefits wants to maintain the current disparity of standards to emerge as the sole leaders cum supposedly emancipated representatives of their communities, by indoctrinating their ignorant brethren against their common enemy in demonical upper caste constructs. The politicians are the chief architects in this diabolical plan who have deployed a standard technique “look for a grievance…show by some measure that the target group has been left behind…Stroke the sense of being discriminated against…Frighten the group into believing that others are out to take away even more of what is its right and present yourself as the only savior” [Falling over backwards, Page xiii, Arun Shourie]


That such unholy nexuses exist and that a real and identifiable creamy layer amongst the OBCs who outstrip even the affluent amongst the general classes is no figment of our imagination is proven by the fact that the annual per capita consumption expenditure (APCCE) for OBCs is Rs 15,436, which compares reasonably well with Rs 16,923 for the general category.


The second argument was of course merit. The striking students were often flayed as merit mongers by the pro quota hate mongers. Merit was waved aside as a purely Aryan invention. Praful Bidwai, the communist leader, claimed merit to be some bogus intangible identity. The preposterous nature of these arguments is self evident, and cannot remotely discount the fact that in any modern competitive society, Merit is the primary means to determine minimum competency levels while excluding incompetence. That merit is genuine is observed by the fact that no coaching institute in the country can claim success rates greater than 5% in any professional examination. Merely enrolling in coaching institutes does not guarantee success, a natural aptitude for the subject might.


The idée fixe of these Dalit historians that how can upper caste minorities represent the professional academic majority considering intelligence to be socially determined is answered precisely by the fact, that the number of eligible candidates (i.e. qualified for appearing in professional entrance examinations) produced by the overwhelming majority of the backward castes (including SC/STs) who constitute the bulk of the population is  miniscule compared to the dominant numbers produced by minority upper castes due to lack of basic education in  the former. Naturally, the staggering number of eligible candidates of the general category enhances the probability of producing more intelligent and competent students in their ranks. By depriving millions of basic education, we deprive them of equality of opportunities. What we instead gain through reservation is equality of outcomes for the creamy layer.


The absence of merit destroys excellence and ushers a wave of mediocrity rendering people incapable of competence forever which has been the bane of free India. This can be substantiated by the fact that despite a grueling 5.5 years of the MBBS course, SC/STs students lag way behind general students as reflected in the results of the All India Post Graduate Medical Entrance exam 2008 where a SC candidate with Rank 100 had an overall rank of 4500, whereas a ST student with rank 100 had an overall rank of 12,000! In contrast, a General category student with Rank 100, had an overall rank of 101. That means that amongst the top ranking 100 students, only 1 was from the SC/ST category!  Suffice to say, the reserved category students are afraid of open competition from general category students and for good reason.


But even this performance is far more creditable than the dismal figures we have for cut-offs in IIT JEE undergraduate entrance exams which were as low as 1, 4 and 3 for Math, Physics and Chemistry respectively. The inherent ineptitude of these students for a course as tough and challenging as engineering at IIT-JEE makes them susceptible to grave depression and even suicide.


This is the reason that anti-reservationists decry any more reservations, them being no solution since even after 60 years the SC/ST list has not witnessed a single deletion of any caste proving that not one of them has sufficiently progressed to be set aside from the gambit of reservation, but is instead burgeoning, testifying to the growing backwardness of India. For India is the only nation of the world where people take great pride in calling themselves backward. When demands for claiming backwardness are not met, they culminate in social tensions, in large scale violence and destruction as in case of Gurjars Vs the Rajasthan Government.


And what about South India, dubbed as India’s better half and repeatedly showcased as the proof for successful implementation of reservations. The NSSO survey reveals the astounding truth that in the land of reservations, in rural TN only 4/1000 ST, 3/1000 SC and 13/1000 OBC female graduates exist.  In total, only sixteen out of every thousand people are graduates, i.e. 1.6% graduates in rural TN. Enough to exemplify the failures of reservation.


This is where we get back to the judgment which despite upholding the validity of reservations has tremendous possibilities for it challenges the notion of caste as the sole criterion for determine legitimacy for reservation and in essence considers reserving only the deserving who have been robbed of their privileges by a dominant minority or the creamy layer constituted by crooked politicians and their cronies in the pseudo-intellectual crowd. It is indeed unfortunate that this move for segregating the creamy layer has not been extended to SC/ST reservations.


Such progressive intellectuals and leaders who have their own doctrinal axes to grind will fail to realize why the Youth for Equality movement was dissatisfied by the offer for compensation of seats for that was not its goal. It was not for personal promotion but eclipsing an inglorious tradition. Their was a sincere attempt on their part to highlight the moral bankruptcy of all political parties of India who while denying bread and education to its masses, championed retrograde quota policies in order to foster their own vested interest of securing the prosperity of this creamy layer and lead further to a caste based balkanization of India by accentuating hatred and hostility amongst the feuding masses.


Pseudo arguments about caste oppression in India in their talk abound despite the fact that all Hindus irrespective of caste could occupy no senior position in the administration of foreign Muslim and British governments and thereby suffered varying degrees of persecution for the last 1000 years.


A century ago, there was a young man with a dynamic vision who believed that education was the manifestation of the perfection already in man. He wanted that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet. Can these wonderful precepts of Swami Vivekananda be actualized amidst these backward looking reservation policies? This is the question that every concerned citizen of India must ask himself.


Ref: http://www.boloji.com/analysis2/0333.htm

Vivekananda on Caste System January 25, 2009

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This article is a chapter from the book, “Swami Vivekananda on India and Her Problems”. This book (Code: AVE061) can be purchased from Advaita Ashrama.




“I have a message for the world, which I will deliver without fear and care for the future. To the reformers I will point out that I am a greater reformer than any one of them. They want to reform only little bits. I want root-and-branch reform.”- Swami Vivekananda




Though our castes and our institutions are apparently linked with our religion, they are not so. These institutions have been necessary to protect us as a nation, and when this necessity for self-preservation will no more exist, they will die a natural death. In religion there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India and the two castes become equal. The caste system is opposed to the religion of Vedanta. Caste is a social custom, and all our great preachers have tried to break it down. From Buddhism downwards, every sect has preached against caste, and every time it has only riveted the chains. Beginning from Buddha to Rammohan Ray, everyone made the mistake of holding caste to be a religious institution and tried to pull down religion and caste altogether, and failed. In spite of all the ravings of the priests, caste is simply a crystallized social institution, which after doing its service is now filling the atmosphere of India with its stench, and it can only be removed by giving back to people their lost social individuality. Caste is simply the outgrowth of the political institutions of India; it is a hereditary trade guild. Trade competition with Europe has broken caste more than any teaching.




The older I grow, the better I seem to think of caste and such other time-honored institutions of India. There was a time when I used to think that many of them were useless and worthless, but the older I grow, the more I seem to feel a difference in cursing any one of them, for each one of them is the embodiment of the experience of centuries. A child of but yesterday, destined to die the day after tomorrow, comes to me and asks me to change all my plans and if I hear the advice of that baby and change all my surroundings according to his ideas I myself should be a fool, and no one else. Much of the advice that is coming to us from different countries is similar to this. Tell these wiseacres, “I will hear you when you have made a stable society yourselves. You cannot hold on to one idea for two days, you quarrel and fail; you are born like moths in the spring and die like them in five minutes. You come up like bubbles and burst like bubbles too. First form a stable society like ours. First make laws and institutions that remains undiminished in their power through scores of centuries. Then will be the time to talk on the subject with you, but till then, my friend, you are only a giddy child.” Caste is a very good thing. Caste is the plan we want to follow. What caste really is, not one in a million understands. There is no country in the world without caste. Caste is based throughout on that principle. The plan in India is to make everybody Brahmana, the Brahmana being the ideal of humanity. If you read the history of India you will find that attempts have always been made to raise the lower classes. Many are the classes that have been raised. Many more will follow till the whole will become Brahmana. That is the plan. Our ideal is the Brahmana of spiritual culture and renunciation. By the Brahmana ideal what do I mean? I mean the ideal Brahmana-ness in which worldliness is altogether absent and true wisdom is abundantly present. That is the ideal of the Hindu race. Have you not heard how it is declared he, the Brahmana, is not amenable to law, that he has no law, that he is not governed by kings, and that his body cannot be hurt? That is perfectly true. Do not understand it in the light thrown upon it by interested and ignorant fools, but understand it in the light of the true and original Vedantic conception.. If the Brahmana is he who has killed all selfishness and who lives to acquire and propagate wisdom and the power of love – if a country is altogether inhabited by such Brahmanas, by men and women who are spiritual and moral and good, is it strange to think of that country as being above and beyond all law? What police, what Military are necessary to govern them? Why should any one govern them at all? Why should they live under a government? They are good and noble, and they are the men of God; these are our ideal Brahmanas, and we read that in the SatyaYuga there was only one caste, and that was the Brahmana. We read in the Mahabharata that the whole world was in the beginning peopled with Brahmanas, and that as they began to degenerate they became divided into different castes, and that when the cycle turns round they will all go back to that Brahmanical origin. The son of a Brahmana is not necessarily always a Brahmana; though there is every possibility of his being one, he may not become so. The Brahmana caste and the Brahmana quality are two distinct things. As there are sattva, rajas and tamas – one or other of these gunas more or less – in every man, so the qualities which make a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya or a Shudra are inherent in every man, more or less. But at time one or other of these qualities predominates in him in varying degrees and is manifested accordingly. Take a man in his different pursuits, for example : when he is engaged in serving another for pay, he is in Shudra-hood; when he is busy transacting some some piece of business for profit, on his account, he is a Vaishya; when he fights to right wrongs then the qualities of a Kshatriya come out in him; and when he meditates on God, or passes his time in conversation about Him, then he is a Brahmana. Naturally, it is quite possible for one to be changed from one caste into another. Otherwise, how did Viswamitra become a Brahmana and Parashurama a Kshatriya? The means of European civilization is the sword; of the Aryans, the division into different varnas. This system of division into varnas is the stepping-stone to civilization, making one rise higher and higher in proportion to one’s learning and culture. In Europe, it is everywhere victory to the strong and death to the weak. In the land of Bharata (India), every social rule is for the protection of the weak. Such is our ideal of caste, as meant for raising all humanity slowly and gently towards the realization of the great ideal of spiritual man, who is non-resisting, calm, steady, worshipful, pure and meditative. In that ideal there is God. We believe in Indian caste as one of the greatest social institutions that the Lord gave to man. We also believe that through the unavoidable defects, foreign persecutions, and above all, the monumental ignorance and pride of many Brahmanas who do not deserve the name, have thwarted in many ways, the legitimate fructification of this glorious Indian institution, it has already worked wonders for the land of Bharata and it destined to lead Indian humanity to its goal. Caste should not go; but should be readjusted occasionally. Within the old structure is to be life enough for the building of two hundred thousand new ones. It is sheer nonsense to desire the abolition of caste.




It is in the nature of society to form itself into groups; and what will go will be these privileges! Caste is a natural order. I can perform one duty in social life, and you another; you can govern a country, and I can mend a pair of old shoes, but that is no reason why you are greater than I, for can you mend my shoes? Can I govern the country? I am clever in mending shoes, you are clever in reading Vedas, that is no reason why you should trample on my head; why if one commits murder should he be praised and if another steals an apple why should he be hanged? This will have to go. Caste is good. That is only natural way of solving life. Men must form themselves into groups, and you cannot get rid of that. Wherever you go there will be caste. But that does not mean that there should be these privileges. They should be knocked on the head. If you teach Vedanta to the fisherman, he will say, “I am as good a man as you, I am a fisherman, you are a philosopher, but I have the same God in me, as you have in you.” And that is what we want, no privilege for anyone, equal chances for all; let everyone be taught that the Divine is within, and everyone will work out his own salvation. The days of exclusive privileges and exclusive claims are gone, gone for ever from the soil of India.




Formerly the characteristic of the noble-minded was – (tribhuvanamupakara shrenibhih priyamanah) “to please the whole universe by one’s numerous acts of service”, but now it is – I am pure and the whole world is impure. “Don’t touch me!” “Don’t touch me!” The whole world is impure, and I alone am pure! Lucid Brahmajnana! Bravo! Great God! Nowadays, Brahman is neither in the recesses of the heart, nor in the highest heaven, nor in all beings – now He is in the cooking pot! We are orthodox Hindus, but we refuse entirely to identify ourselves with “Don’t- touchism”. That is not Hinduism; it is in none of our books; it is an orthodox superstition, which has interfered with national efficiency all along the line. Religion has entered in the cooking pot. The present religion of the Hindus is neither the path of Knowledge or Reason – it is “Don’t-touchism”. – “Don’t touch me”, “Don’t touch me” – that exhausts its description. “Don’t touchism” is a form of mental disease. Beware! All expansion is life, all contraction is death. All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. See that you do not lose your lives in this dire irreligion of “Don’t- touchism”. Must the teaching (Atmavat sarvabhuteshu) – “Looking upon all beings as your own self” – be confined to books alone? How will they grant salvation who cannot feed a hungry mouth with a crumb of bread? How will those, who become impure at the mere breath of others, purify others? We must cease to tyrannize. To what a ludicrous state are we brought! If a bhangi comes to anybody as a bhangi, he would be shunned as the plague; but no sooner does he get a cupful of water poured upon his head with some muttering of prayers by a padri, and get a coat to his back, no matter how threadbare, and come into the room of the most orthodox Hindu, I don’t see the man who then dare refuse him a chair and a hearty shake of hands! Irony can go no farther. Just see, for want of sympathy from the Hindus, thousands of pariahs in Madras are turning Christians. Don’t think that this is simply due to the pinch of hunger; it is because they do not get any sympathy from us. We are day and night calling out to them “Don’t touch us! Don’t touch us!” Is there any compassion or kindliness of heart in the country? Only a class of “Don’t-touchists” ; kick such customs out! I sometimes feel the urge to break the barriers of “Don’t-touchism”, go at once and call out, “Come all who are poor, miserable, wretched and downtrodden”, and to bring them all together. Unless they rise, the Mother will not awake. Each Hindu, I say, is a brother to every other, and it is we, who have degraded them by our outcry, “Don’t touch”, “Don’t touch!” And so the whole country has been plunged to the utmost depths of meanness, cowardice and ignorance. These men have to be lifted; words of hope and faith have to be proclaimed to them. We have to tell them, “You are also men like us and you have all the rights that we have.”




Our solution of the caste question is not degrading those who are already high up, is not running amuck through food and drink, is not jumping out of our own limits in order to have more enjoyment, but it comes by every one of us fulfilling the dictates of our Vedantic religion, by our attaining spirituality and by our becoming ideal Brahmana. There is a law laid on each one of you in this land by your ancestors, whether you are Aryans, or non-Aryans, rishis or Brahmanas or the very lowest outcaste. The command is the same to you all, that you must make progress without stopping, and that from the highest man to the lowest pariah, every one in this country has to try and become the ideal Brahmana. This Vedantic idea is applicable not only here but over the whole world. The Brahmana-hood is the ideal of humanity in India as wonderfully put forward by Shankaracharya at the beginning of his commentary on the Gita, where he speaks about the reason for Krishna’s coming as a preacher for the preservation of Brahmana- hood, of Brahmana-ness. That was the great end. This Brahmana, the man of God, he who has known Brahman, the ideal man, the perfect man, must remain, he must not go. And with all the defects of the caste now, we know that we must all be ready to give to the Brahmanas this credit, that from them have come more men with real Brahmana-ness in them than from all the other castes. We must be bold enough, must be brave enough to speak their defects, but at the same time we must give credit that is due to them. Therefore, it is no use fighting among the castes. What good will it do? It will divide us all the more, weaken us all the more, degrade us all the more. The solution is not by bringing down the higher, but by raising the lower up to the level of the higher. And that is the line of work that is found in all our books, in spite of what you may hear from some people whose knowledge of their own Scriptures and whose capacity to understand the mighty plans of the ancients are only zero. What is the plan? The ideal at the one end is the Brahmana and the ideal at the other end is the chandala, and the whole work is to raise the chandala up to the Brahmana. Slowly and slowly you will find more and more privileges granted to them. I regret that in modern times there should be so much discussion between the castes. This must stop. It is useless on both sides, especially on the side of the higher caste, the Brahmana, the day for these privileges and exclusive claims is gone. The duty of every aristocracy is to dig its own grave, and the sooner it does so, the better. The more he delays, the more it will fester and the worse death it will die. It is the duty of the Brahmana, therefore, to work for the salvation of the rest of mankind, in India. If he does that and so long as he does that, he is a Brahmana. Any one who claims to be a Brahmana, then, should prove his pretensions, first by manifesting that spirituality, and next by raising others to the same status. We earnestly entreat the Brahmanas not to forget the ideal of India – the production of a universe of Brahmanas, pure as purity, good as God Himself : this was at the beginning, says the Mahabharata and so will it be in the end. It seems that most of the Brahmanas are only nursing a false pride of birth; and any schemer, native or foreign, who can pander to this vanity and inherent laziness, by fulsome sophistry, appears to satisfy more. Beware Brahmanas, this is the sign of death! Arise and show your manhood, your Brahmana-hood, by raising the non-Brahmanas around you – not in the spirit of a master – not with the rotten canker of egoism crawling with superstitions and charlatanry of East and West – but in the spirit of a servant. To the Brahmanas I appeal, that they must work hard to raise the Indian people by teaching them what they know, by giving out the culture that they have accumulated for centuries. It is clearly the duty of the Brahmanas of India to remember what real Brahmana-hood is. As Manu says, all these privileges and honors are given to the Brahmana because, “with him is the treasury of virtue”. He must open that treasury and distribute to the world. It is true that he was the earliest preacher to the Indian races, he was the first to renounce everything in order to attain to the higher realization of life, before others could reach to the idea. It was not his fault that he marched ahead of the other castes. Why did not the other castes so understand and do as they did? Why did they sit down and be lazy, and let the Brahmanas win the race? But it is one thing to gain an advantage, and another thing to preserve it for evil use. Whenever power is used for evil it becomes diabolical; it must be used for good only. So this accumulated culture of ages of which the Brahmana has been the trustee, he must now give to the people, and it was because he did not open this treasury to the people, that the Muslims invasion was possible. It was because he did not open this treasury to the people from the beginning, that for a thousand years we have been trodden under the heels of everyone who chose to come to India; it was through that we have become degraded, and the first task must be to break open the cells that hide the wonderful treasures which our common ancestors accumulated; bring them out, and give them to everybody, and the Brahmana must be the first to do it. There is an old superstition in Bengal that if the cobra that bites, sucks out his own poison from the patient, the man must survive. Well then, the Brahmana must suck out his own poison. To the non-Brahmana castes I say, wait, be not in a hurry. Do not seize every opportunity of fighting the Brahmana, because as I have shown; you are suffering from your own fault. Who told you to neglect spirituality and Sanskrit learning? What have you been doing all this time? Why have you been indifferent? Why do you now fret and fume because somebody else had more brains, more energy, more pluck and go than you? Instead of wasting your energies in vain discussions and quarrels in the newspapers, instead of fighting and quarreling in your own homes – which is sinful – use all your energies in acquiring the culture which the Brahmana has, and the thing is done. Why do you not become Sanskrit scholars? Why do you not spend millions to bring Sanskrit education to all the castes of India? That is the question. The moment you do these things, you are equal to the Brahmana! That is the secret power in India. The only safety, I tell you men who belong to the lower castes, the only way to raise your condition is to study Sanskrit, and this fighting and writing and frothing against the higher castes is in vain, it does no good, and it creates fight and quarrel, and this race, unfortunately already divided, is going to be divided more and more. The only way to bring about the leveling of castes is to appropriate the culture, the education which is the strength of the higher castes.


Ref: http://hubpages.com/hub/caste