Recently our court has successfully convinced the public in believing that the name of the upcoming release of Amir Khan’s movie ‘Dhobi Ghat’ has nothing to do with the ‘dhobi’ caste as it denote the place. And when there were so many words related to the profession cum caste in a song of “Aja nach le”, only one word was removed because only that word was considered offensive as it represented caste and thereby was an offense to the people of that caste. Government has decided to get a caste based census after so many decades. These are some news relevant to our today’s topic.
Today we will probe into a very much talked issue and will try to explore some less explored facets of it. There are few words which are used to represent particular group of people but are also considered offensive. These words are associated with the groups created by man or society e.g. country, region, religion, caste, profession, tribe. There are so many words which are used to represent the people belonging to above mentioned groups. And for every type of group, we have quality associated to it which may be good or bad, high and low, prosperous and poor and so on.
I am going to take two of the above groups based on caste and profession. These groups have much greater importance to India than any other country because so much of the Indian laws are based on it. And also because of the existing disparities at group level. In between these groups there exist differences on the basis of education, income, social status and even in some cases color of skin. Another thing which is very peculiar for India is the noun for profession is also a noun for caste in so many cases, because profession and caste were synonymous in ancient ages. If you wanted to buy some utensils or made of iron you will go to “lohār” ( लोहार ), for washing clothes “dhobi” ( धोबी ), for jewelleries “sonār” ( सोनार ) and so on so forth.
If we look back and try to analyze the reasons from the religious texts of India, we will find that initially the human race depending upon its qualities, nature, eating habits and color were assigned different jobs accordingly. This division was according to the amount of three traits “guna”( गुण ) which are called “sat”( सत ), “raj”( रज ) and “tam”( तम ) in the people and were called “varna” ( वर्ण ). Satogun ( सतोगुण ) being the highest in quality and is followed by rajogun ( रजोगुण )and then tamogun ( तमोगुण ). It was believed that the presence of these traits in human is directly correlated to the jobs assigned to them. So, this was the first division of responsibilities among people in the civilization. Although the nature of people can change and the amount of the above three traits may vary in the off-spring if he is allowed to get education and think. But, it was natural and easy for off-springs to adopt the profession of father since there were not many varieties of jobs available for them. Also, it is very natural of a human to associate the amount of quality, praise and importance in his mind to any profession. For the people who belonged to profession which was considered inferior in society, was not easy to change their professions and get high social status and it was also due to the fact that the some of the highest ancient knowledge was the proprietary of the upper castes which were called twicw born or “dwij” ( द्विज ) and the people of other castes were considered non eligible ( अपात्र ) So they were denied education in some ancient educational institutions ( गुरुकुल ). Since people are very careful about the quality of off-springs they produce and the social status of the relatives they have, so marriages were arranged in between the families of same social status and castes. As the civilization progressed, the variety and amount of jobs increased and also the inter-caste relations. The off-springs produced by inter-caste relations were called वर्णसंकर or hybrid-caste and these people were assigned newly created responsibilities/jobs of society. And the noun for these jobs became the name of their respective castes. At the same time it was also believed that people of these different caste/race has some traits associated with them which are very peculiar of that caste/race. So the hybrid off-spring will have a mixed trait.
The above story was based on religion and was before the advent of modern education. Now every human being has equal right. Although religion doesn’t teach racial discrimination per sé. But some of its texts do imply this fact, as we see them in current scenario. Due to the human greed of power, social status and so on the impact of those portions of religion is much profound on people. So, there still exists racial discrimination in some parts.
As we see that the existence of castes on the basis of patriarchy always denies the high social status to the lower castes. If social status is a matter of caste, it should be a gained by competition and getting it should depend upon human caliber and human caliber only. And if caste denotes the profession it should be applied to each and every person belonging to that particular profession. If it is not the case, caste must not exist to represent social status or profession. The caste system should be abolished and no man should be recognized by their caste. Everyone should be treated equally. Those who have no education and are not capable of having it, provide them according to their mental caliber. Those who are good in some physical skills, put them where they can do their best according to the degree of their skills and so on so forth. That person who covets the social status by himself only will be praised everywhere and the other people will stop differentiating and recognizing him by his caste. He can also hold his head high in society because his new identity is only defined by his caliber and caliber only. This is what is called social status, which should be first felt inside then others will start to recognize it.
But the existence of caste was so essential to do politics that our new lawgivers continued this caste system, and to pacify the peoples of lower caste they prohibited the nouns used for it. They said that although they belong to this particular caste and this particular caste has this social status, but pronouncing it is an offense. Only government can ask their caste because the government does not discriminate people by their caste because it is bound by law made by it. Government creates rules to provide some amount of super power from where it can have majority of votes and will pretend that it is all just to create equality in the society. Some sort of monkey justice.
Due to the above reason people are in a dilemma. The dilemma is that one has to tell everybody that he belongs to this particular caste (to get the degree of backwardness in classes defined by government GEN., O.B.C., S.C., S.T.,MINORITY etc.) and even prove it to the government, because without this he won’t be able to get any benefit of exclusive laws created for him. But at the same time he feels offense by the same words by which government recognizes him. And for that government provided a remedy and the words which denotes caste are considered offensive and are against the government's notion of creating an equal society. So to develop equality in the society and in the minds of people, to elevate the social status government defined classes out of castes. These classes are supposed to have different impact on people than caste. Another dilemma for the people is the common words for a particular profession/service are also used to represent a caste regardless of the fact that the professional/service provider belongs to some other caste. The people in India are also reluctant to do those jobs which have been done by the castes lower to them previously even if they will get more profit in it.Well! money rules eventually and as the jobs of cobbler is shifted to some factories/showrooms and the washer-man to laundries etc. and so on people seem to have at ease to adopt these professions relatively. By this I mean that if you add a little glamour to the profession and price the service/product higher than usual then it will lose the inferiority associated with it. Well this is a matter of analysis but we should not digress from the matter.
So the point being here is if the government really wanted to treat the people as equal and give jobs and tasks according to their caliber it should have made only those laws by which a person of a particular caste can be prevented from denial of opportunity to gain high social status. Creating laws on the basis of region/religion is not good if the government consider itself secular. But as we see the reality is opposite. After so many years, government has decided to count the people of different castes so that it can make use of the data. You better know for what.
What should be done to completely remove the picture of caste from the mind of people? This is the problem to be discussed. But it for sure that whatever be the laws made by the government they are not going to create equality among society and fill self confidence in each and every person. To achieve social status and to get respect in society one requires self-confidence. And this self-confidence depends on personal caliber. What do you think? Please share!!!