It is really important to understand the question itself. What does one mean by “abolish the caste system” ?
HOw can we abolish something as slimy and nebulous as the caste system ? It is mostly in the hearts of people, how can we seek to ban such thoughts ? Can we seek legal action against someone who “thinks” casteist ? Should we perhaps seek to ban same-caste marriages ?
We can only take legal action against action, not against thoughts. So what do we do ?
The first step is to make it irrelevant. Something that is irrelevant for a long time will cease to be a dividing factor among the people automatically. The lines will continue to blur and over a period of time will cease to matter.
Once major concern is that if caste is to be made irrelevant, how can we be sure that some castes will not try to dominate others ? Maybe caste will be irrelevant only on paper, but still be very much a factor in reality. What about the really backward classes ? How can caste be irrelevant to them, try telling them that ?
So it all comes down this.
How caste can be made irrelevant, at the same time be used to provide relief for the segments who continue to suffer as a result of their caste ?
The problem itself seems to be vexing, but it is actually not so.
The solution lies in making caste irrelevant for the vast majority of Indians at the same time identifying truly backward among us and providing some relief for them. Now this relief is in the form of a quota. special training or anything else is a separate matter.
The key therefore is identification or selection of “groups” which would be eligible for this special relief. There lies the grand failure of the Indian state !
The first question is..is it the right thing to think that the caste system should be abolished?
If the answer is yes then comes the second question how? And as you also agree it should be made irrelevant. I had made two suggestions in my previous post to see how it can be made irrelevant but what is happening today in the forms of reservations can NEVER make it irrelevant.
As long as there is a need to classify or “group” people based on caste for providing statutory benefits it cannot be made irrelevant.
What do you mean by truly backwards? I am guessing that you mean economically backwards. But then there is the question of socially backwards which has its origin in the caste system. We cannot ignore the social backwardness and focus only on economic backwardness. The current or even future reservation policies can only attempt to remove the economic backwardness but the theory that it will remove social backwardness is flawed.
Also, if you really want to know the reality, go ask the really backwards especially the SC/STs, they want the caste system to be abolished. They do not want to be labelled as SCs because the way the current society is, they are looked down upon when someone gets classified as a SC/ST no matter what the economic status of that person. Things are changing in this regard but at snails pace.
I can also tell you that people from SC/ST background who have made considerable economic progress still harbor thoughts such as whether they are looked down upon by other people just because they are SC/ST. Where is the social justice in that? The fact is, even at work places people talk, even though in hush hush “What do you expect, he is from the quota system”. Where is the social justice in that?
So I suggest tackle the two things differently.
*Social Backwardness – By abolishing (making it irrelevant over a period of time) caste system.
*Economic backwardness – By identifying economically backward groups and extending benefits to those.
This will help us move from Caste struggle to class struggle, which most countries have faced previously and there are a lot of ways to deal with it.
So once again, I think abolishing the caste system is the right way to approach the social evil of caste system. There is no way by which a caste could be used to provide relief to the segments of society and made irrelevant at the same time.
Questions to ask is,
Why do you want the caste to be basis for providing the benefits to an economically backward section?
What is the point in making everyone remember their caste all the time? Only for these statutory benefits?
[…] Lot of people may not agree with Gandhi on some of the issues. Some people agressively talk against him i.e. his personality and indulge in what I call Gandhi bashing. As I have noted in one of my earlier post, Gandhi too was a human and as such, prone to errors. But the issues that he made errors on cannot negate the positve impact that he has had on Indian society and polity. He laid down some important principles in life and following them is not always easy. That is why most people dismiss his principles as impractical and take the easy road. […]
Dr. Ambedkar was the towering figure of the times. He was the genuine article; adhering to the principle of non-violence (a Buddhist, not a Hindu, concept!) Gandhi was full of absurdities and contradictions — threatening violence under the guise of ahimsa (if he had died from a fast to the death, how many would have been killed!) and clinging to the bloody pages of the Gita. How silly!
I respect both Gandhi and Ambedkar. Both had their own strength and weaknesses. Ambedkar was a scholar and his biggest weakness was political skills. Gandhi on the other hand was a very shrewd politician.
In this particular issue I think Ambedkar was right. Only if their views matched, together they could have done wonders. Ambedkar with his scholarly aptitude could have taken a ripped apart any argument and Gandhi with his political and organizational skills could have achieved what we desire today. Unfortunately it was not to be and both fought throughout their life with each other on this issue.
There is a reason why Gandhi’s life has some contradictions. It is because the guy was continuously experimenting and was not afraid to change his views as and when he learnt something new. In fact his views regarding caste were not the same throughtout his life. They changed but unfortunately pretty late in his life he reached the conclusion that the Caste needs to go. For him it was pretty late by then.
‘Ambedkar believed that the caste system derived its strength from the Vedas and Shashtras and hence asked for the destruction of the shashtras. A proposition so strong and it provided the ammunition to the detractors.’
I disagree with the above statement stated above about that Veda support caste discrimination,
The reason why there was a strong retribution to this is that it did not constitute any truth but provided a feeling that those who pronounced this had some hearsay knowledge of Veda and not in a position to steer the masses
I have delved profoundly in this subject and did some thorough investigation by reading commentaries on the Veda and Bagavad Gita,
I do not support the caste system and do not care about the dogmas surrounding the system, but I do care about the veracity of the origin of this system in the Hindu culture (mind you Hindu culture and not Hindu religion)
To cut short, I propose you guys to read the commentary of Bagavad Gita by Chinmayananada (one of the best scientific analysis) or just visit this website, http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part20/chap2.htmt
Thanks for the links, I’ll read them as my time permit,
Further I want stress the point that Veda which is the bedrock of Hindu Religion doesn’t promte caste discrimination or caste system, its profund teachings rest on the premise that every living and non-living thing is the manifestation of one called Brahaman, this is anti thesis to the view of different caste previling among hindus,
My whole research relates how the so called Hindu culture propagated the different hierarchy among its own population and started the discrimination, (Human Fallacy)
You are right in saying that the vedas do not promote discrimination based on caste and I don’t think Ambedkar said anything different. What we see today is the degeneration of an idea that was originally coined to specify division of labour. That idea later on become distorted and the dharma shastras ratified it. Thereafter emerged most of the evils of caste system.
What Ambedkar says is that the idea of caste, at least the 4 varnas, exist in the vedas. You would see the mention of the 4 varnas in the Purusha sukta. Now this can be interpreted in different ways, good or bad but one thing that cannot be taken away is that the concept existed in Rig Veda.
And since the idea is considered embodied in the rig veda, any amount of effort to change it, is tantamount to religious reforms. I definitely agree on the human fallacy argument of yours but I also agree with Ambedkar when it comes to dismantling the caste system.
Ambedkar talked about rejecting the Shastras. To many people that could very well mean rejecting the hindu religion as well but to me it doesn’t mean that. To me it would amount to a reform in the religion.
The problem of caste is not at all being confronted rationally. Those lower in castes, today, are in that state, ie a state of lower intellectual ability, due to them being prevented from competing with the high caste. We are perpetuating this state, ie of still preventing any sort of competition, by reserving for them what they would have got by competing, without competition.
To put briefly, no caste is cent percent forward or backward. Forward caste can be considered as the one with more than 99 percent of population possessing above average abilities and backward as the one with more than 99 percent having below average abilities. Reservation, by affording greater competition, elevates those below average, among upper caste, to above average level, while, relegating even those few who does not happen to be below average to below average status by removing all competition.
Caste System is like cancer to India in general and Hindu Society in particular. Varnashram is the base of Caste System.
Recently I went to participate in a Pooja in Temple where Brahman Priest recited “Dhor, Gawar , Shudra , Pashu , Nari , Ye sab Taadan ke adhikari” .This is biggest insult to Democracy and human values as well.
India will never develop till caste system exists.We have to completely abolish caste system , varnashram and caste based structure of society. we have to impose a ban on all caste based organisations like Brahmin Sabha ,Shakdipi sangh, Vipra Sabha, Kshatriya Mahasabha ,etc. We have to boycott casteist leaders.We have to ban caste based matrimonials.We have to allow people of every caste to become Shankaracharya , Mahamandelaeshwar , Pandit , Pujaari , Achrakas ,etc.That is everybody should be allowed to worship God in any temple.There should be strong legislation to prevent discrimination and abuse on basis of caste.
We have to reform Hindu Religion and if needed Hindu Shastras as well.
We all are equal in eyes of God .
Actually, Mr, Raje, you can do it easily. You can organise your own temple and do your own pooja and do whatever you feel is right. This is indeed the essense of hindu relegion. Everyone must find their own way. Today, no one is under any obligation to follow any particular path. Take the example of Ma Amrutanandamayi who decided on her own spiritual path. What stops you from hiring a dalit or a tribe from being a priest in your house?