The recent Paramakudi incident and other some precedents like Uthapuram make one doubt whether we are in the 21st century. In fact, we shouldn’t experience any kind of caste/community-based tension in this modern era, particularly in India, which is rapidly modernising and westernising.
Varnashram is the pioneer of the caste system. Many centuries ago, it had divided the entire society into Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras based on their pattern of occupation. Later, the four became a few hundreds but not based on occupation. The later development of casteism empowered a few groups and enslaved the majorities.
There is no doubt that we have to be grateful to our forefathers for giving us a valuable culture – Indian culture - which has been praised by the entire world. But the very same culture has been criticised by the very same world because of inequality in society.
Many social reformers, from Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi, expressed their disapproval of this inequality in the name of caste system. Many people, the so-called upper caste, also condemn this division. Yet, it isn’t being resolved but only gets complicated.
All over the world, social distinction exists in the form of class system, like rich and poor. Sociologists believe that the class system is liable to change as the poor can become rich and join the upper class. However, in our society it is hereditary and one can’t move to an upper or lower caste.
We can’t justify this inequality in the name of tradition or custom since we are not following all traditional habits and customs, like eating, dressing, etc., that our ancestors used. At present, we all addicted to electrical and electronic equipment. With these kinds of contradictions, it’s quite distressing that we still continuing the old system of inequality, humiliating fellow human beings.
We, the citizens of India, aspiring to become a super power, but forget the fundamental nature of unity of the people to attain this goal. These kinds of social separation don’t offer any benefit to society, even though it has been supported by a few, to help play politics.
The miserable thing is that young people who have to promote social harmony are unconsciously promoting the divisions without knowing the value of human relationships. So, when there is a clash between groups in the name of caste/class, to show the power and weight of a few, the youngsters become victims. The consequence of the clash affects the financial position of the family. The social problem becomes an economic problem. That’s why caste and communal problems are listed in the list of economic hindrances of a developing nation.
If we have a casteless society, it won’t affect any ones’ pride and doesn’t change one’s way of living. If any particular group of people takes pride in their customs or culture, let them show them without creating any trouble. But their pride shouldn’t humiliate others.
Further, to stop this social nuisance, people have to unite against all kinds of divisions. There should be severe punishment to promoters of caste-based violence.
Science and technology can contribute to eradicating social inequality by making cheaper availability of scavenging technology - because, manual scavenging still exists in many parts of the nation. To do all the things, we must have education as without education, we can’t amalgamate society. It also has the power to check the spread of this social menace to future generations.
Progressive education will bring about the desired change in Indian society.
(The columnist completed B.B.E. in 2009 from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, and M.A. Economics in 2011 from The Madura College, Madurai. She has presented four papers - Food Inflation; Problems and Causes of Indian Agriculture; Health Care in India; Globalisation and its Impact on Indian Economy; - at various state-level seminars in Madurai district. She is also an aspiring civil services candidate.)