Friday, January 2, 2009

Caste in India

I came across the following video from one of the blogs I stumbled up on. I apologize for not remembering the author name.

It is disheartening to view the amount of injustice unleashed up on lower caste people.

Being from the uppermost caste, I did not have to face any of these discriminations. My parents and grandfather mingled so much with people from different caste and religion that I did not grow up with that much caste consciousness. We also moved around a lot, visited various states, and had friends from different walks of life. Still, I remember coming across a number of incidents from my collage year onwards.

During my undergraduate years, we used to go to a nearby village for cheap haircut. The barber is also the village tailor and vetenararian. While haircuts in our town (a big village) used to be 7 or 9 rupees, this guy will do it for 3 rupees. On top of it, he would get us a tea from nearby tea stall. I never drank that tea because it tasted awful. :-) Later I learned that he never got paid for his services in that village. He would get rice and other commodities as the other families desire. I felt weird about it.

In my house, my mother is conscious of caste. She used to not let a lower caste lady in the kitchen or touch her drinking water. She has changed since then. Still, she would not let a lower caste person to cook for her. She claims it on uncleanly environment they live in. She does have an argument about the un-cleanliness. Most of these low caste people are economically suppressed and cannot afford to live in a decent house.

The sadder part is that even in this lowest caste community, women and children are at the bottom of this totem pole. In my high school, we had a government program to teach the illiterate. I volunteered for one. One of my students was a young wife of an untouchable. She was so enthusiastic about learning. After two lessons, her husband stopped her from learning claiming that she cannot be learning from another young man. She should learn only from females. I thought that he was afraid of losing his control over his wife due to her education. This girl was older than my elder sister. I was not attracted to her at all. She was also one of my star students. Looking back, if only she had learned to read and write, she would have certainly mandated her children to go to school. Their education would have uplifted that family. I know it is just a possibility. Still…

Reverse caste discrimination also exist. In my high school, between 6th and 10th grade, I was tortured by my classmates because I belonged to a higher caste. That area was known for hatred against my caste -- for whatever reason. It left me a permanent emotional scar. The lesson I learned was not to be cruel towards anyone.

This video mentions that caste system is observed even when these people move abroad. I have not observed it in the US. I even joined diversity groups to learn more about such discrimination incidents.

Anyways...It is despicable to discriminate fellow human being because of who they are.


  1. Hi

    உங்களது புதிய வலைப்பதிவை உடனுக்குடன் பூர்த்தி செய்து, அதை உலகம் முழுவதுமாக பரவி உள்ள தமிழ் வாசகர்கள் முன் கொண்டு செல்ல இந்த வலைப்பூக்களிலும், வேகமாக வளர்ந்து வரும் தமிழ் இனத்தின் இணையத்திலும் தங்களை பதிவு செய்து கொள்ளவும்.

    வலைபூக்கள்/தமிழ்ஜங்ஷன் குழுவிநர்

  2. In my house also, we are brought up with kindness towards everybody irrespective of the caste. When we show hospitality to any, but strict descipline was also maintained in earlier days when our grandparents were alive. Even we cant touch or move freely in the kitchen. NOwadays when we go to doctor, his first question is, whether we had any outside eatables. within our premises following certain principles will not harm any.. that is my feeling.