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Class is a mobile caste and caste an immobile class
Caste-based reservation was introduced centuries ago by an ingenious theory called Varna Vyavasta. It is a 4-storied building without staircases. Manual labour was assigned to the 4th varna; mind work, administration and trading were reserved for the first three varnas.

Top three varnas have powers and responsibilities. But the 4th varna (Sudras and Mlechhas) has no powers and only responsibilities. Chanakya's Arthashastra clearly states that it is the religious duty of the Sudras to serve the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas. So caste-based reservation is nothing new to Indians.

Quota or no quota, caste is here to stay. If a person thinks that quota alone will eliminate caste system, he lives in a fool's paradise. He grossly underestimates the stranglehold of caste and overestimates the efficiency of quota. Quota has not created castes. Even when there was no reservation, caste system remained solid. That is the strength of Varnashrama system.

Even the lowest caste person wants to cling on to his caste. To say quota did this damage is falsehood. It was there before quota came into effect. It will be there even if quota is abolished. Let us not fool ourselves by blaming quota for perpetuation of caste system.

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. Only politics brought forward a constitution to give equal rights to all and quota to give some relief to the oppressed castes.

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 made any contribution in abolishing caste system. Rather they just continue the hegemony of a particular caste only.

Quota bashing civil society did almost nothing in elimination of caste system. Though I won't agree to the view of Ambedkar that "Elimination of caste demands elimination of Hindu religion that sanctioned caste,'' Hinduism cannot have the cake and eat it too forever.

Lower castes are accused of sticking to their castes to avail the benefits of quota. For argument sake accepting this as true, the lower castes at least have some justification for this. Upper castes have nothing to gain from the state. Why are they sticking to their respective castes steadfastly? The matrimonial advertisements (given by the upper castes and published by the media mostly under upper castes) speak volumes about the society's mind-set 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 and trade in uplifting the lower castes? Inclusive culture is alien to Hinduism. And that attitude marches ahead even now.

Social reforms in TN started much before 1947. Dropping caste names in a feudal society is a significant step. Recently a few Brahmins shamelessly re-started this system in TN by writing Sankara Aiyar, Meera Aiyangar etc. They just don't realise such a luxury is not available for the oppressed castes.

While the adjoining states are still clinging on to caste titles like Nairs, Menons, Reddys, Gowdas etc, less said about Northern states the better. Upper castes studiously maintain their superior caste identity by asserting their surnames. Honourable exceptions: Rajnarain, Sushma Swaraj, Lingaraj, Sunil ji etc.

Available data clearly now establishes that class elsewhere is caste in India. Percentage of people below poverty line: STs – 80%; SCs- 66%; OBCs – 50% and OCs- 35%. Even if economic criterion is adopted for preferential treatment, the majority of the beneficiaries will be from lower castes. Upper castes hardly realise social backwardness is different from economic backwardness.

Whites are the majority in America and Blacks the minority. But American Federal and State governments are giving tax subsidies to those private companies that employ eligible Blacks in their workforce. Consciously they don't want Whites only workforce in private sector too. None in America says that poor among Whites also must get this benefit.

In India, this is just the reverse. Majority are Sudras. But the minority upper castes don't want to lose their hegemony. American Whites don't want social disturbances due to Blacks' backwardness. Indian classes need not worry about any social upheaval because they are certain that Karmic Retribution hoax will save them forever. And those upper caste Indians who oppose quota in India have no shame in enjoying the benefits aka quota available in USA for immigrants.

Mandal Commission has two very significant recommendations: 1) If an OBC candidate's parents are matriculates, that person is not eligible for quota 2) OBC quota can be availed only if the women in the family undertake manual work.

Social justice warriors gave a decent burial to these progressive recommendations. They also inflict self-destruction by refusing to fix limit for quota benefit for a particular family. But that cannot be a scapegoat for upper castes to abuse quota. In spite of the shortcomings, it did bring in some relief to the Sudras after suffering for centuries under a racist and exclusive society.

Caste system will go only through a multi-pronged attack. It will be a very long struggle, may be stretching to many centuries. To expect quota alone will usher in a casteless society is just a mirage.

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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