21st Century cast(e)aways!

The Caste Census will do irreparable damage to the fabric of society


AChittapavan Brahmin a group traditionally known for integrity and
intellectual honesty Bhave was not keen to be the chairman of the
Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) because,as the head of
National Securities Depository Ltd he was fighting with the regulator
and there was a clear conflict of interest.
On the face of it,a perfectly innocuous statement! Really Except that
how is Bhaves caste or its purported integrity and intellectual
honesty relevant in a serious assessment of the Sebi chiefs
performance I have no clue.It should be a completely irrelevant detail
in 21st century India.Yet the author clearly thought it a detail worth
Just as the bhel-puri wallah in the local market had sought to allay
my fears about his chutney on the grounds that he is a Brahmin and
hence would never cheat.What was the connection,I asked,aghast.What
does caste have to do with honesty Are there no cheats among Brahmins
The two statements,from the two ends of the social spectrum,show how
pervasive is the hold of caste over the Indian consciousness.But does
it follow that we should give such consciousness official
sanction,turn the clock back and include caste enumeration in the
on-going Census Should we blindly pursue something that even the
British,with their fondness for divide and rule,eschewed (the last
caste census was in 1931)
As the political class demonstrates,once again,its ability to close
ranks on anything that furthers its own interests,it is time all good
men (and women) show the same unity of purpose as their political
masters and oppose the move tooth and nail.Lest we all become
cast(e)aways of a State that is not a patch on what we had in 1947!
In a society that is already deeply stratified on the lines of
religion,language,culture,ethnicity,one would imagine any responsible
polity would try to paper over existing differences rather than dig up
divisive forces that are slowly,but surely,becoming less
important.True,caste is still an unpleasant reality in much of rural
India but urbanisation and the greater social mobility that has come
with increased prosperity have slowly made inroads into caste
barriers.Inter-caste marriages are far more common than before and
though khap panchayats are a depressing reality,unlike in the
past,caste is no longer the sole defining factor in modern
India,especially in metros and big towns.
In such a scenario no purpose other than furthering narrow identity
politics will be served by raking up the injustices,real or
perceived,of the past.Should we not,instead,be taking a leaf from the
books of South Africa that opted for the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission instead of trying to settle scores with those guilty of
atrocities under the apartheid regime

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