I stayed in a house to attend a series of examinations in a distant place (a town, rather a district headquarter) for a week. The first question I was asked by my landlady, aged around 40, was my caste. And she was so eager to tell what hers was. Of course, she doesn’t know that she was suffering from ‘castemania’. She couldn’t resist asking.
One summer afternoon while I was browsing my Facebook account, I could see my friend’s post which was neatly and colorfully made in a PageMaker titled ‘his name’ ‘his sir name’ ‘his caste name’. He was born and brought-up in two different regions of Andhra Pradesh. On one side his caste comes under backward classes and the other side it comes under the unreserved category (the upper castes). He uses OBC certificate to claim reservations and occasionally tags his upper caste name to enjoy the social respect. However, that post was out of my sight after few days.
My girlfriend turned friend (of course, I am not her boyfriend, she neither has one) recently replaced her sir name with a name that can easily identify her caste. A jovial and fun making bubbly girl fell in the trap of the ‘casteism’ unknowingly. She proudly says that she wants to follow the trend of Ravi Shastri. I don’t know whether she is aware or unaware of the cruelties of caste but she was infected with it. These tags are so tempting. Reddy, Banerjee, Chatterjee, Goud, Yadav, Chowdhary, Raju, Aiyar, Nair, Shastri, Naik and many like these.
Not all the people can tag the caste name whichever they like, but only those who were born with it. Tagging is a sign of domination over other castes. Tagging is a symbol of authoritarian attitude. Tagging is a principle of magnetizing the same caste people leading to favoritism and nepotism. Tagging is like strengthening the casteist attitudes of the people. And my girlfriend cannot tag a ‘yadav’ to her name as she doesn’t belong to that caste. If it is the birth of a man that decides his caste then it is both ‘birth’ and ‘marriage’ (if she marries out of her caste) for a girl that shows her caste. She has to get it from the male.
I was so shocked to see my junior, who is a 10th class student, writing in a post on his Facebook that “Reddy – it’s not a caste but a character”. We can look at him how deeply it was injected into his mind about the sense of being casteist. After all he is a tenth class student. One of my friends tagged her name with ‘Malhotra’ (a kshatriya clan of north India) and updated her Facebook profile with this tag. After two months, she removed it and replaced it with ‘bai’ (who actually she was).
Generally, most of those people who are tagging these names are the so-called upper castes of India or the people who are in the top echelons of this social order who only occupy very less portion of the population of the country. Three fourth of those people who tag castes at the end of their names want to show “they are above all” - above all means above the rest of the other castes whose great grand parents worked under those upper caste rulers. They want to retain it. They want to spread the same to their next generations. Cruel intentions.
I hope for a day to let this casteist mindset be changed and the hierarchal order comes to a horizontal order where all castes are treated as one or for an entire casteless society and let that be “India- Untagged”.