Intolerance and Caste Discrimination; these two words suddenly became prominent in context to Indian politics. The former word is a relatively new addition whereas the later word has a deep route in it! Let’s try to understand the caste system, the caste discrimination and the need to change it.
Caste vs. Varna
During the primordial age, there existed no caste system. All of them used to live together without any social discrimination. Then people formed society and the rules had been framed to run it smoothly. Different people had been assigned to do different kind of jobs. People with a warrior skill were termed as “Kshatriya” and people with a business mind were termed as “Vaishya”. People with religious belief and knowledge were termed as “Brahmins” whereas people who serve others were termed as “Shudra”! They called it “Varna” system; where a person had been allocated a class based upon his choice of work. The second generation of these people started following the duties of their forefather. Soon, people forgot the origin of this “Varna” system and started believing that, a person’s birth determined their “Caste”.
The Caste Discrimination
In order to create a certain hierarchy in the society, the Shudras were pushed to the lowest level of this Varna system. These people had no option but to accept it as they were heavily dependent on other castes for their living. The Brahmins being the upper class started forming theories to suppress the Shudras. From there came the theory of “Untouchable”. Different Kings, Mughals and British; everyone added something or other to maintain these caste system. During pre-independence era a lot of freedom fighters started some movements to balance these biased caste system; Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar were the prominent names in this list.
Hindu Mythology on Varna System
A lot of people, who supports the caste system over Varna system, give references of Hindu Mythology to prove their point. One such reference point is; Shambuka. In Ramayana, there was a person named Shambuka who was a Shudra by birth but wanted to perform religious duties like that of a Brahmin. This was considered as a violation of the Dharma and he had been killed by Rama. Moral of the story; people who follow Rama should accept the caste system and not the Varna system! But at the same time, there were numerous other examples which can be quoted from mythology to make it clear that the sacred books only talk about Varna system based on the behavioural approach and it can’t be determined by birth! Some examples are like Vishwamitra, a Kshatriya who changed his class and became the greatest Brahmin of his time. Then there is also the story of “Shabri”; a low caste woman who gave the tasted berries to Rama. Without any hesitation Rama accepted those saliva soiled berries. Doesn’t that indicate that the theory of untouchable is not acceptable to Rama?
The Caste System, the Reservation and Indian Politics
Dr. Ambedkar, the father of Indian constitution drafted some rules to help the suppressed people of the country. He included them in the governing body by allowing them some reserved seats inside the Parliament. But after his demise there was no one to guide the politicians on this. There after the reservation scheme has been extended to educational institutes, Govt. jobs and everywhere else. And to appease the vote bank several other communities has been included in the reserved category.
The need of Change in the Reservation System
The current reservation system is more than 60 year old. But did it solve the imbalance caste system of the society? The answer is clear and loud; “NO”. The people from lower class do get better jobs because of reservation but there are still temples in India where they are not allowed. Under the current system of reservation; a person who belongs to a reserved class but not actually a needy one, will also take the benefit of the system. It might also push the deserved candidates out of competition. It simply means the system is not working at its best and that is why we need to change the reservation system!
But what is the solution?
Please share your thoughts and creative solutions that we can compile and present to the right authorities. Let the change begins from us.
— Ajay Patra (@TaraniPatra) March 21, 2016