How many times have you heard upper caste people say “Ye quota wale hamari seats kha rahe hain” (these ‘quota people’ are stealing our seats) or “I am caste blind, everyone’s equal for me“? We asked people on Twitter to tell us some casteist comments from upper caste people that they are tired of hearing. The entire thread is the proof of how casteism is still not only alive, but thriving.
Here are some of the responses that we got!
Oh! the “Caste is dead” myth! Yes of course it’s dead. Like patriarchy is dead, or like homophobia is dead. Isn’t it?
This myth comes from the traditional notion that caste is just about untouchability. The way casteism is practised today can be both very subtle, for example having different utensils for your househelp, or casual use of casteist slurs, or it can be very explicit, like, casteist lynching and honour killing. If you’re not able to see it, look deeper. Like it or not, caste governs every aspect of how we live and exist.
You or me believing in caste or not believing in it doesn’t change the fact that caste, even today, is a living and breathing evil. Your privilege might let you not “believe” in it, but for thousands of people out there, caste is a reality, and caste-based discrimination is an everyday struggle. So instead of not believing in something that is not just present but also dominating our entire existence, how about we become more vocal about it, educate ourselves about it and join hands to dismantle it. Once that’s done, we’ll talk about what to believe in and what not to believe in.
Your privilege might let you not “believe” in it, but for thousands of people out there, caste is a reality, and caste-based discrimination is an everyday struggle.
The enthusiasm that you show by criticising caste-based reservation so vocally, why don’t you use half of it to address your privilege and fight for the abolition of caste system from the society? Why do you not speak about ending the management quota in all educational institutions as the same is against the principle of merit? Why do you not advocate in favour of transparent selection system at all levels to end caste-based discriminations? I’ll tell you why. Because then you’ll lose your precious privilege. The same privilege that you so proudly use to bash reservation. Reservation is the protection for people of reserved communities who otherwise would be deliberately discriminated at the hands of those sitting at the selection table.
Now let’s talk about merit. The whole idea of “merit” has been reduced to a very narrow understanding of it. It gives birth to the myth that those who benefit from reservation are ‘undeserving’. While reservation does help a person fight the initial discrimination and get into an institution, surviving there is whole another story because of all those people in the position of power are, more often than you think, casteist themselves, which in turn makes the entire intuitions a breeding place for both subtle and explicit casteism!
Talking about representation of the SC and ST communities in employment sector is another whole story. As per government data, there were 747 officers in the ranks of Director and above, which include 85 Secretaries, 70 Additional Secretaries, 293 Joint Secretaries and 299 Directors. Among these only 60 officers (about eight per cent) are from the Scheduled Caste and 24 (about three per cent) from the Scheduled Tribes. Why do you think that is the case? If you’re tempted to say it’s because we are not deserving, you need a reality check. And perhaps need to address your internalised casteism. SCs, STs form less than 10% of Central higher bureaucracy. Let that sink in.
If you’re tempted to say it’s because we are not deserving, you need a reality check. And perhaps need to address your internalised casteism. SCs, STs form less than 10% of Central higher bureaucracy. Let that sink in.
Educate yourself about the casteism around you, in you. Upper caste people still hold the economic and social power, controlling the media and many political parties. When the resources are held by a particular community, there’s no surprise that the distribution will have inherent biases in it, giving birth to casteist practices and discriminations on every step of the way.
It was in 1979 that Mandal Commission shed light on the monopolisation of these resources by few. 40 years later, with comments like this thrown at us every now and then, I am not even surprised that not much has changed. I believe in merit and not in selective discrimination in the hands of few monopolising the top echelon of the political, administrative and judicial system of the country.
Here’s a cookie for at least acknowledging that caste exists SOMEWHERE! Here’s a fun fact for you. 66.46% of Indian population resides in rural areas. So by your logic, casteism exists in AT LEAST 66.46% of India. Last time I checked, the quantum of reservation could not exceed 50%. Let’s increase that to cover the entire rural area then, shall we? Give us our equality and justice! Caste is not a culture that is only limited to certain sections of society. It’s so ingrained in our societal structure that you can see hundreds of casteist instances on a day and still either refuse to acknowledge it or be completely ignorant about it. Next time you see someone flaunting their surname on their cars/bikes, please come back here and tell me how caste is an issue of the past!
Check out the thread to see more responses and watch this video that we created out of these responses!
What is one casteist statement that you are tired of hearing?
Featured Image Source: Zee News