Caste system in Hindu society in India has reached a stage that there is an apprehension of disintegration of the society. In the past when there were only four castes it might have served the purpose of organizing the society on a scientific basis.
The castes were decided in the Gurukulas to meet the needs, of professions and duties in the society. They were not birth based. But the successive invasions after the seventh century obliged the people to use their own sources to defend themselves and their neighbors in a particular village or town.
In the times to come these small groups in the process of defending themselves categorized themselves as castes for almost all the purposes including the institution of marriages. There was a sudden proliferation of castes marrying only among themselves.
In the beginning it was for convenience and safety. Later on it turned into rivalry. Some groups made material gains or attained scholarly heights while a large number of them remained poor and the process of exploitation of the poor by the well- to-do grew common. The fabric of the society did not remain a smooth one but became a beggar’s blanket having more than 5000 patches.
What was considered a necessity during invasions turned into an evil system? When and how the things developed is the headache of a scholar in sociology.
What the common man sees is that the society has been stratified into two types of groups—the haves and the havenots. The former form the groups of the so called upper castes comprising of the people who take pride in being called Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas or allied combinations. They are a proud group of more than 2000 castes and sub- castes. Although they too do not intermarry all of them to look down upon the remaining 3000 odd groups have known as lower castes.
Some communal or religious groups considered themselves closer to their religious kins in other countries rather than to the majority group in India. They started having extra territorial loyalties. They got the country divided on the two nation theory.
The people belonging to different castes remained loyal to their country and the nation. But it is only one side of the coin. The other one is quite dark and bleak. The lower castes gradually lost their status in the society. Their poverty compelled them to depend on the upper castes. The country passed through a long era of exploitation.
By the time we come to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar we find that members belonging to the so called lower castes had become rather serfs. They were not educated, were not touched by the members of other castes and were humiliated at every step in their lives. They remained at the mercy of the upper castes. Many of them still live on the periphery of villages, towns and cities-many by the side of city drains too.
The greatest jolt that the country received after independence from this system of fragmentation of society was the farce to which democracy was reduced. The ruling party would always throw crumbs and make promises to the lower castes to have their votes. They made no efforts to educate them. These illiterate people became their vote banks.
The upper castes would lose them if they become conscious through education. They rather remained dumb driven cattle. Thus the democratic process in the country remained in the hands of scheming politicians of the ruling party. They gained ascendance to power through these illiterate millions.
With the changing times caste system is not diluting. It is giving democracy another jolt. With all the pretensions of opposing caste system almost all the parties choose candidates on the caste basis. During elections the candidates of almost all the parties in most of the constituencies belong to the castes that predominate in numbers in that region. No state is an exception to this.
The Indian democracy is Caste Democracy-a phenomenon not found anywhere else in the world. Secularism is rather a far cry. Let us first kill the devil of casteism.
Reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and for the backward classes are just the ominous result of caste system. These reservations are justified as the people belonging to these castes have been exploited, humiliated and deprived of their rights for centuries together. It has caused much heart burning in the society. There was a chain of imitations when V.R Singh accepted Mandal Report. There were riots in Gujarat and all educational institutions remained closed for a full academic year.
The reservation too is availed of by the creamy layer in the lower and backward castes. Because of the false notion of reservation the lower castes do not make an effort to go for higher studies. They are satisfied with the lower cadre jobs. The lucious fruits are still acquired by the so called upper castes. Many highly technical jobs under-reservation quota remain unfilled as qualified candidates are not available. It affects the development work in the country.
Now that the so called lower castes have gained consciousness the political scenario is changing for the worse. A Kanshiram would retaliate against the Brahminic regime with a bulldozer. A V.R Singh would try to regain his position under the pretension of being the initiator of Mandalisaticr. The Stalwarts of BSP would take into confidence members of a community- that got the country divided on communal lines. There are forces working in the country, beyond our borders and beyond the seas too that would not lose the opportunity of getting the country Balkanized on caste basis. Let us abolish the dirty caste system to give a blow to their evil designs.