Caste differentiation has been ingrained in most of the people right from their childhood. They learn to look down upon people from the castes lower in the social hierarchy. Calling names, stereo typing people according to their castes, mocking individual’s personal habits in the name of caste, etc. is still very much prevalent, in our society. And lest we dare forget, our politicians have ensured to repeatedly remind us by emphasizing the castes to garner votes. And naive as most of us are, we get swayed by that and vote for a candidate not based on their credentials but their caste. We bite the bait laid down by the politicians and what happens is not the elimination of this evil system, but deep rooted hatred and alienation of one group from another.
Come April and I feel the fresh smell of textbooks and notebooks filling the heart with a peculiar fragrance and nostalgia. As the new academic year begins for the central board my kids enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Remember our school days when we looked forward to school reopening, meeting old class friends and how eager we used to be to know our new teachers and apprehensive to Know who would be our class partner?!!. Golden days indeed. One week into the new academic session and my kids get their school dairies home. As told to them they hand me their respective dairies and ask me to fill the information form in it.
Like every year I start filling the two page form (multiply by 2 as I have two to be filled)…it’s a boring task for me….but still less painful then covering all the books, labeling and naming each (yes multiply by 2 here as well hassh!!) . Like every year I stop at the column, where the religion, caste and sub caste is asked. Each time I wonder why they have to ask all this, how does it help them in knowing my child better ( what if the child is a hybrid byproduct ! just like hybrid vegetables and fruits are the ‘in thing’ these days so are inter caste marriages!) .I could never understand why. The best part of my childhood was that my parents never mentioned anything about my cast or sub caste. I was introduced to different religions through my friends and neighbors.As an Indian I had to be acquainted with the many religions Indian as a country witnesses. And yes, I had friends of almost all kinds of religion. But why caste? Until I was to get married I never knew it was really important for anyone.The caste system came into practice for safeguarding certain rights to certain strata of the society. Or probably for classifying the work. But, now in this century and as a developing nation do we really need to take help of it? Education alone is the best way to move up in life with hard work and sincerity. But at least don’t ask the kids once admitted in a school about his caste and religion. How would it really help I don’t understand.
Frankly, I wish I could write Indian in all the three blanks. And that is true. Also, linking ones nature to his or her village is a turnoff…I am astonished to see people of same village bond with each other so well in Mumbai!! First thing they ask to a stranger after the name is which village is he/she from? I am a Mumbaikar and I simply don’t know How it is a big deal if you find someone from your village, that you instantly hit the like button!! We should have liking for our village and villagers but not at the cost of sidelining others.
Caste based bonhomie appears to be more rigid and pronounced than ever. It is upon us to take the initiative of cleansing society that is ridden with caste differentiation. There is a famous saying that goes, ‘Charity begins from home’. So, we’ve got to cleanse our minds first, and then help others. Change has to start from one person and then can be transmitted to others.
I hope all schools, offices abolish this stupid question especially with the current state of politics erupting in everything even in cases of rape, I strongly oppose to answering to this question…
A worried Mother…