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Can there be a casteless society in India?
When Indian Council for Historical Research's (ICHR) chief said in a blog that ancient caste system worked well, many reacted sharply. The caste debate again came to fore.

I am not here trying to defend or object his opinion. His opinion is his personal. I am here to just explain how the so called people against caste system always contradict themselves as their logic changes with time.

Shankar Narayanan, a senior colleague of mine is totally against caste system. He is a very learned person, very active on social issues and always stands against the caste based discriminations. I always respect him a lot and I also share the view that there shouldn't be any caste based discrimination.

One day, when I was sharing my view on Uniform Civil Code, he immediately reacted why not UCC first implemented in Hinduism itself! I couldn't understand his point. He then clarified that why not caste system in Hinduism abolished! Should such inhuman system continue in modern India?

I immediately responded saying will the lower caste people agree for a casteless society? Because nowadays most of the communities are competing to be identified as lower caste in order to get government benefits such as job reservation etc. There were many violent protests in Haryana, Rajasthan etc to include their castes in to SC or OBC category to get the caste based reservations.

He angrily replied, "Why do you call it reservation? It's de-reservation to reservations practiced since 5000 years! Only upper caste will do mental work and lower caste will do physical work in our awful caste system! Do you know what torture and injustice is done to the lower caste people? Even if they would be given reservation for another 5000 years, the sins of the upper caste will not be erased!"

I smiled for a moment and then answered very politely, 'Sir, you are advocating a casteless society because you are against caste discrimination. At the same time you are supporting caste-based reservation because 5000 years of torture inflicted towards the dalits and other lower caste! While defending caste based reservation you are indirectly demanding caste system to prevail in the society. Isn't it a contradiction?"

He didn't say anything further, but I know he is caught between the dilemmas like many others. Whenever caste system is discussed these wise people would ask that there shouldn't be any caste system or there would be ideally a casteless society. But when caste based reservation comes in, they will defend it citing 5000 years of torture. Interestingly none has a solution.

In Tamil Nadu no education certificate mentions one's caste because of casteless social revolution during sixties and seventies. But again you will find people having educational certificate stapled with caste certificate from competent authority only to avail the benefit of government affirmative actions towards lower caste.

This becomes a never ending problem. At one hand one seeks a casteless society but has to defend caste for quota, stipends and other governmental benefits for lower castes. Thus those who seek casteless society in fact had to defend restoration of caste base society.

Now question is can our society be caste less? The answer is, definitely yes, provided people shade the duality. Let's agree that we Hindus don't have any caste. If Hindus are a casteless society then this would also end caste based reservations, stipends, special rules etc.

Now the next question to build a casteless society is, should the dalits, other lower caste people and downtrodden community have to give up all the government facilities provided to them as an affirmative action? Why again these tortured communities have to pay once more for making society casteless? Well that's a very big question and again the advocates of casteless society would come seriously demanding restoring the caste based society!

However my stand is clear, make the society casteless and end all caste-based reservations, facilities etc. Am I against reservation? Certainly not! In fact I am big supporter of all affirmative actions to all down trodden communities. Poverty and hunger neither has any religion nor any caste. Extend all the affirmative action to the poor and down trodden people irrespective of religion, caste, creed or race. In this way we can achieve the dual objectives. While all deserving people would get all the affirmation facilities, society can also be casteless.

But if all over again you start advocating that rich lower caste people should also get benefits because of the so-called 5000 years of torture, then I don't think you are true to yourself in demanding a casteless society rather while scolding upper class you in-fact strengthening the ancient caste based society. Until the paradox is removed, no social justice or casteless society can ever be possible. Think over it carefully.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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De-reservation (to detach job from caste) is a small step to eliminate the caste discrimination and to pave the way for a casteless society. Quota alone is not the solution. Public jobs are just one crore in number while the oppressed castes are nearly 90 crores. It is just a speck in the ocean. It requires religious, social, economical and political struggles to abolish caste system. A large number of social reformers (Buddha, Vivekananda, Gandhi, Rammohan Roy, Phule, Subramania Bharati, Periyar EVR, Ambedkar, Narayana Guru, Lohia etc) made significant contributions in this regard. Politics brought forward constitution to give equal rights to all & quota. Judicial verdicts ensured egalitarian values. A historic judgment declared that even a Dalit, if qualified, could become pujari in any temple. Barring a few, Hindu religious gurus have hardly any contribution in abolishing caste system. Rather they just continue the hegemony of a particular caste only. I won’t agree to the view of Ambedkar that ‘’Elimination of caste demands elimination of Hindu religion that sanctioned caste’’. But Hinduism cannot have the cake and eat it too forever. The matrimonial advertisements (given by the upper castes and published by the media mostly under upper castes) speaks volumes about the society’s mindset towards caste. Blaming only the lower castes for clinging on to their caste identity just for enjoying the quota-benefits is nothing but hypocrisy. The willingness of upper castes to share the spoils with oppressed castes was well exhibited by their hostile reaction to Mandal implementation. What is the contribution of industry & trade in uplifting the lower castes? Inclusive culture is alien to Hinduism. And that attitude marches ahead even now.
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