This essay provides information about casteism in India!
According to Kaka Kalelkar, “Casteism is an over-riding blind and supreme group loyalty that ignores the healthy social standards of justice, fair play, equity and universal brotherhood.” In the words of K. M. Panikkar, “Casteism is the loyalty to the sub caste translated into political.
Image Courtesy : upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bb/Seventy-%2818%29.jpg
This is unavoidable as long as the conception of sub-caste exists, for that is the one permanent loyalty that the Hindu has inherited. In fact, no organisation of society on the basis of equality is possible so long as the sub- caste exists.”
According to D.N. Prasad, “Casteism is a loyalty to the caste translated into politics. In general, Casteism may be defined as a phenomenon by virtue of which persons belonging to a certain caste group are either discriminated against or shown favour regardless of their merits and demerits, just on the basis of their caste.
Casteism exhibits a number of characteristics. They are as follows:
1. Casteism signifies blind caste or sub-caste loyalty. It either ignores or does not care for the interests of other castes.
2. For a casteist “My caste man and my caste only, right or wrong” is the principle.
3. Casteism goes against the spirit of democracy.
4. It submits one’s sense of justice, fair play and humanity to the interest of his own caste.
5. It is against the lofty ideal of the constitution.
6. Casteism is a big hurdle in the way of nation-building and national integration.
7. Casteism creates caste solidarity to the extent that: (a) one caste seeks to dominate over others, (b) higher castes exploit the lower castes, (c) elections are contested and won on caste basis, and (d) inter-caste conflicts increase in society.
8. Casteism is essentially a rural phenomenon. Its role in the urban areas is negligible.
Several factors contribute to the growth and spread of Casteism. They are as follows:
1. Sense of caste prestige:
Sense of caste prestige constitutes an important cause of Casteism. The people belonging to a particular caste try to enhance the prestige of their caste. In so doing they do not hesitate to employ undesirable and deleterious methods.
Endogamy signifies that marriage is solemnized within one’s own caste. Since people practice endogamy, it is quite natural that they develop a deep sense of belonging towards one another. This obviously promotes Casteism.
Consequent upon urbanization and modernization, the people migrate from rural areas to urban areas in search of employment. They live in an impersonal world and hence feel insecure.
This need for psychological security compels them to stay in a cluster formed on the basis of caste. Further, they form associations through which they can protect their caste interests. All these lead to Casteism.
4. Increase in the means of transport and propaganda:
Increase in the means of both transport and propaganda has led to the establishment of relation between members of a caste who were previously separated because of distance. And the feeling of Casteism is being rapidly propagated through the medium of newspapers and communal magazines.
5. Social distance:
Under the traditional caste system, the people belonging to the higher castes maintain social distance from that of the lower castes through restrictions of inter-caste marriage, inter- dining etc.
The ideas and ideologies of an individual are conditioned exclusively by his caste norms and values. This state of affairs has given rise to Casteism.
6. Social distinctions:
Under the traditional caste system, the members of the lower caste suffer from several social disabilities. Their ‘life chances’ and ‘life opportunities’ to achieve social mobility are limited.
Their children are not allowed to avail educational facilities available to upper caste children. In course of time they begin to feel that they are being suppressed and oppressed. They become more and more united and try to protect their caste interests which in turn lead to Casteism.
7. Illiteracy and belief in religious dogmas:
The members of the lower castes are illiterate. They are governed by narrow sectarian considerations, superstitions and blind beliefs. In the name of ‘Jati Dharma’ or ‘Kula Dharma’, they preserve their own caste interests and stick to their caste prejudices. Even at times they act against the interests of other castes. All these factors promote casteism.
On the one hand, Casteism serves to further the interest of a small number of individuals. On the other hand, it is proving harmful to the nation as a whole. Some of the major consequences of Casteism are as follows:
1. Hindrance in the development of nationalism:
Casteism hinders the growth and development of nationalism. It has divided Indian Society into a large number of groups and subgroups. There is also division in the same caste. Very often there occurs both inter-caste tension and intra-caste tension which lead to national disintegration.
2. Hindrance to democracy:
Casteism poses a serious obstacle in the functioning of democracy. Many of the professional politicians exploit Casteism and at election time ask the people to vote for them on caste considerations and they also succeed in their evil designs.
Even illegitimate and immoral practices are resorted to in securing the interests of one’s own caste. By promoting narrow loyalties, Casteism has weakened the modernization of the polity. By retaining outmoded caste cohesion, Casteism has stood in the way of the building up of a secular society.
Casteism has a lion’s share in encouraging corruption. Inspired by the sense of Casteism people try to provide all kinds of facilities and benefits to their own caste men. Fair play is ignored. All sorts of wrong practices are justified on one pretext or the other.
4. Hindrance in technological efficiency:
The appointment to government and private services on the basis of caste has led to an increase in the number of inefficient and worthless people. Competent persons with professional expertise are neglected.
Less competent people look after the whole scientific and technical activities. This amounts to colossal national loss in terms of industrial and technological advance.
5. Opposed to the process of development:
Casteism crumbles down the process of development. By encouraging corruption, nepotism, favoritism and blind caste loyalty, Casteism arrests the implementation of developmental programmes.
Casteism has become pervasive. It has entered into the marrow and bones of a sizeable section of the society. Its root has gone deep into Indian soil. It cannot be uprooted overnight. It is in the interest of both the individual and society that Casteism should be eradicated from the Indian social matrix at the earliest.
A number of suggestions have been put forth by different sociopolitical thinkers. They are as follows:
Prof. M. N. Srinivas holds the view that the removal of Casteism depends, for the most part, on adult franchise, spread of education, and constant progress of the backward classes and the influence of the culture of higher castes on the living standards of the lower castes.
According to G. S. Ghurye, removal of Casteism is possible only through inter-caste marriages and co-education.
Mrs Irawati Karve suggests for the creation of economic and cultural equality as a means to do away with Casteism.
P. N. H. Prabhu holds the view that Casteism can receive a jolt only when new attitudes in the people are developed. The cinema and other media can do much towards the creation of these attitudes.
The political parties and organisations thriving on Casteism should be banned. Similarly journals and magazines fanning Casteism should be brought under the clutches of law.
Voluntary organisations should be formed in quite large numbers. They should work with missionary zeal and play an influential role towards the removal of Casteism.
There should be limited use of the word ‘caste’. Limited use of the word ‘caste’ will bring in its wake the disappearance of the distinctions based on caste. Consequently the feeling of Casteism will die a natural death.
Last but not least, public opinion and propaganda should be relentlessly directed against Casteism through press, radio, television and educational institutions in order that the feeling of untouchability finds no place in the minds of the people.
In fine, strong political will on the part of the leaders, courage on the part of the social reformers and above all an attitudinal change on the part of the members of various castes towards the evils of the caste system will go a long way in eradicating Casteism from the Indian social setting.
Essay on Casteism in India: Definition, Characteristics and Causes!
Essay # Definition of Casteism:
“Casteism is loyalty to the caste translated into politics”. —D.N. Prasad
“Casteism………. is an over-riding, blind and supreme group loyalty that ignores the healthy social standards of justice, fair play, equity and universal brotherhood”. —Kaka Kalelkar.
“In this way it is only because of casteism that the Smiths want to benefit only the Smiths while the Joneses want to come to the aid of other Joneses. It matters little if the members of the other castes are irreparably harmed, if it does not cause any concern to the Smiths and Joneses”. —K.M. Panikkar
It is clear from the above definitions that casteism is a blind group loyalty towards one’s own caste or sub-caste which does not care for the interests of other castes and their members.
Essay # Characteristic Features of Casteism:
1. Casteism ignores and does not care for the interests of other castes. It signifies blind caste or sub-caste loyalty.
2. It ignores the human values and social welfare.
3. It hinders the spirit of democracy. It is anti-democratic.
4. It plays a nasty role in elections.
5. As regards casteism. Prof. M.N. Srinivas says, “on a short term basis the country is likely to have more trouble with caste”.
6. It is against the ideal of Indian constitution.
7. It hinders the process of national integration.
Essay # Causes of Casteism:
1. Sense of Caste Prestige:
It is the most important cause of casteism. Feeling of own caste superiority over other castes Is the main factor. It is people’s strong desire to enhance caste prestige. Members of a particular caste or sub-caste have the tendency of developing loyalty to their own caste.
Each and every member tries to keep up their caste prestige and superiority over other castes intact. This type of loyalty towards the caste makes the members of the caste in favour of their own members of the caste wherever they get the opportunity. It leads to casteism.
2. Caste Endogamy:
Caste endogamy refers to marriage within the same caste. Caste endogamy is therefore responsible for the emergence of the feeling of casteism. Individuals are more prone to develop their loyalties towards their own caste and sub-caste people. The practice of endogamy makes the people narrow-minded.
3. Impact of Urbanisation:
Urbanisation indirectly favouring casteism. Due to the impact of industrialization people migrate from the rural areas to urban areas. When they go to a new place, naturally they search for their caste people. They consider their own caste people as their own potential friends and well-wisher. Hence it leads to strengthen caste feeling and casteism.
4. Increase in the Means of Transport and Communication:
Advancement and improvement in the means of transport and communication leads to a better organisation of caste. The feeling of casteism is also rapidly propagated through the medium of newspapers.
Lack of literacy leads to narrow-mindedness. Mostly the illiterate people have more caste feelings. Hence it leads to casteism.
6. Belief in Religious Dogmas:
Due to illiteracy, people are governed by belief in religious dogmas, blind beliefs and superstitions. Due to the practice of ‘Jati Dharma’ they take interest in their own caste. It leads to caste feeling and casteism.
7. Social Distance:
Specially in rural areas, people belonging to the higher caste maintain social distance from the lower castes. They maintain it through different restrictions like inter-caste mintages, Inter-dinning etc. The ideologies of an individual tire conditioned exclusively by his caste norms and values. This has given rise to casteism.