In the Sunday Express, P. Chidambaram (PC), India’s famous Congress politician who officiated important posts like Commerce Minister, Finance Minister, and Home Minister wrote a small piece on caste and he mentions at the end of it that the annihilation of caste is nowhere in sight, a pessimistic view indeed.
If a scholar politician like him is pessimistic about India’s most glaring problem, what we can expect from the other lot. The problem is before we even think about the annihilation of caste we have to analyze caste. It is also important to think through this analysis and question the previous governments, including the governments which PC was an integral part of.
As we can understand after the analysis of the problem of caste that it is hydra-headed problem, but at the core of the problem is the religious mentality. The Hindus, as Babasaheb Ambedkar said, are not wrong, but their religion is wrong.
When a Hindu practices caste, they practice their religion religiously. Any solution aimed at ending the caste system must have this fact at the core of it. That is why the systemic break away from the Hinduism-based on caste is an important step.
That does not absolve state from its responsibility to fight this monster of caste. The constitution put in place the reservation policy to include more and more deprived Indians into the state organs and this policy was not implemented.
In fact, the then PM of India, Nehru, wrote to CMs not to implement the reservation policy. The subsequent Congress governments and Congress party did less than what was mandated in the Constitution, only when the social movements started becoming assertive and due to electoral politics, it started paying lip service to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The political parties, if they are serious, must start thinking together about the annihilation of caste and it will begin with the admission that the approaches so far has been not effective. They must make annihilation of caste a political agenda.
Even when the RSS/BJP Government announced that it will seek the “casteism” free India, it did not make it clear and it was reduced to the sloganeering. Can the deadlines be set up by all the political parties in India to end the caste system by so and so the year?
The way the Governments seek the end of polio and other diseases, the Governments and political parties make it one of their rallying points to get elected.
Can the Governments and political parties come up with media campaigns to encourage citizens to forgo their caste identities? As it is clear that India cannot become “Swachch” without ending the caste system, can the state come up with the mission like “Annihilation of caste mission”?
It is pity that India’s long term scholar politician like PC had to consciously think about the annihilation of caste after such a long stint in the public life. We do not know if we have to call it a sincere change of heart or awakening from the deep slumber.
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist