“Dalit boy dies after being allegedly thrashed by teacher” said the news headlines in August 2022.
Today, even in the progressive, inclusive and ever becoming global society in the 21st century, we hear headlines like these. Such incidents have become so common in our lives that more often than not we pay no heed to them.
Casteism. A word most of the Indians would probably be aware of, even if not particularly about the word then the experience itself. It means discrimination on the basis of their cast. Casteism as a social evil is deep rooted within our society and why would it not be when it has been prevalent for centuries across the subcontinent.
Historically, the supposed “lower caste” people were discriminated against, treated inhumanely and discarded away from the society. To even imagine such atrocities happening in today’s world seems not possible but here we are. Though, there’s no denying that the prevalence of Caste system has dimmed down in some aspects but it still dominates our society as a whole. The marriage structure being a worthy example. Caste-wise matrimonial advertisements are a common sight in newspapers. This depicts how strong a foothold it holds in the society and how dominant it is.
While adopting laws against caste discrimination after independence was a wise step, another choice made has been both a blessing to some and curse to others. It was the implementation of the reservation system. In the government and education sectors, the quota system set aside certain positions for members of the lower classes. This system was put in place to give an equal footing to socially backward classes in the society.
In my humble opinion, three major things can help us to make more progress in diminishing the effects of the caste system. Technology, mindset and inter-caste marriages.
Regarding the development of technology, the division of labour in a contemporary industrial society has to be based on one's achieved talents rather than their place of origin. Therefore, industrialization aids in the dismantling of the caste structure.
Changing the mindset of people is something very difficult yet the most important thing to be achieved. We cannot do it overnight, slow and steady progress has to be made. The same can be done by starting this practice in our immediate environment.
Marriage is considered to be a very important institution religiously, economically, politically and socially. Acceptance of inter-caste marriages would be seen as breaking away from the shackles of this hierarchical system.
Practice of Casteism is a crime against humanity and it is constitutionally abolished to do so. We all collectively as a society need to do away with this discriminatory system.
Written by- Shaula Bhushan, Student Intern at ALAGS