Being recognized as backward citizen, I have a provision called ‘reservation’. And this reservation might help me to become ‘economically forward’ citizen, but never will it give me the status of ‘social forwardness’. If I get a gazetted job, I will still be in ‘backward class’ as ‘creamy layer’ but I will not be welcomed with red carpet into the category of socially forward people (the upper castes).
Social backwardness and forwardness in India is due to the presence of the ‘caste hegemony’. When the whole world is facing problem with the terms ‘rich class’ and the ‘poor class’ and the intermediaries between them, India has an add-on and weighing severe problematical term - ‘The Caste’ and its friends ‘Religion’ and ‘Region’.
In India, the one who is economically backward and socially forward can easily become economically forward. But, the one who is ‘economically forward and socially backward’ can never be socially forward. Because, the socially forward people will never recognize this ‘economically forward and socially backward’ people as socially forward citizens. This is Indian social system. I am extremely unhappy with this as it always troubles me.
I never felt the identity of backward when I was in school; neither did my classmates nor my friends. But, by completion of my graduation every one of my friends found their position in these social strata. The upper castes started adding tags to their names, which brought a bit extra dignity to their life. They felt proud of their caste tags and were happy to born in such caste. They identified themselves with their caste. But, at the same time they were very unhappy when they started competing for government jobs. This thing irritated them, as there are reservation facilities to the backward people like me and to my Dalit and tribal friends. How should I identify myself with the caste? If I tag my name with ‘yadav’ (as I was) people will identify me with my caste rather than my good name. I don’t want to be called so.
I was identified as Hindu. But, when will someone come to know that I am a Hindu? When I sit or stand or dine with any other religious people. I don’t want to be a Hindu. The saffron extremists say ‘be proud to be born as a Hindu’. I am proud for being born. But, I am not proud for being a Hindu or Musalmaan or anything else. I was identified as Andhraite when I went to New Delhi and people started calling me there as andhrawala. I was upset and I don’t want that identity. I hail from Telangana region and I want my identity as a Telanganite. I want people around me to recognize me as a Telangana person. I want my identity. The state always suppresses me when I ask for my identity; how repressive cultures do the states possess.
My Dalit friends always identify themselves as ‘Dalits’ but not as Hindus. This is because Hinduism left them as untouchables. My friend, a Muslim girl, wants the people around her to identify her as a Muslim woman so she drapes the Burqa around her body when she is in public. She wants her identity as a Muslim. She doesn’t want to live like a Hindu for she is not born or practiced that religion. I was born in India and have to mask my face with many colors. I can’t have a single identity. I ask for one identity and the government will give me the other just like how we get our voter cards (someone else’s photo with our name and address on it).