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The Saffron Book

Casteism is a curse. Untouchability, is a collective crime.

5. Abolish Casteism

Dear Paswan

A society under a suraaj is to be such as to enable each citizen to go about his work and perform his karma according to his volition. This of course would be subject to the law and public order which would prevent him from stepping on the toes of other citizens and come in the way of their freedom. Other than that, the social norms and practices should not be such as to drive any citizen into distorting his karma. For instance, the practice of untouchability which must have driven innumerable persons to crime merely to feed themselves and their children. If avenues of work and employment are barred for any citizen, he might be driven to dushkarma - in this regard, against his own better judgement. Let us, however, not forget that untouchability is a collective crime and consequential Dushkarma resulting in collective durbhagya.

In fact, one scar that the social face of suraaj should not have is casteism which is the worst curse of our society. I believe that ill treatment of the lower castes, especially the dalits, has been a significant cause of  India's ill fate for centuries. To reiterate, untouchability particularly was unforgivable. You might ask as to what has the practice of untouchability or the ill treatment of others got to do with the fate of entire India? Let me explain. I assume that if one is a Hindu one believes that the quality of one's karma or deed determines the character of one's bhagya or destiny.

Even if one is not a Hindu, he would understand that many an Indian believes in this cause and effect relation of the Hindu explanation of life. As you know, there are Catholics, especially in Goa, who claim to have been brahmins. The Bohras of Gujarat are openly proud of their brahmin ancestry; now they are Shia Muslims. I have met Muslims who insist that they were Rajputs and not inferior.What I am getting at is that, regrettably, even conversion to Christianity or Islam has not succeeded in necessarily wiping out the memory of caste. It then stands to reason that you would empathise with, if not accept, the Hindu ethos whole heartedly.

If there is individual karma, there must be also collective karma resulting in collective bhagya. Untouchability was practiced not by individual volition but by collective prejudice. It would therefore be a group crime in which case the whole group has to suffer. This is what I mean when I say that our civilisation has suffered a destiny of invasions, humiliation and exploitation, whether via the Khyber pass or the Indian ocean. I hope that I have succeeded in highlighting the enormity of the crime perpetrated by the Hindu society. True, Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, in their different ways, did try hard to abolish untouchability. The question is: has all the prejudice disappeared? Even supposing it has to a significant extent, have the disadvantages inherited by the unfortunate generations been wiped out? The answer, evidently, is in the negative.

What is the way out? What is the solution? The reservation of seats in educational institutions and employment positions is helpful but only upto a point. It relieves, shall we say, the pain of past prejudice but does it cure the suffering? It is necessary to not only help recover but also to create self-confidence. To keep feeling deprived, to live in the remorse of having been sinned against could lead to self-pity. Which, in turn, is anenemy of self-confidence. Nevertheless, there is no dividing line to indicate where help should end and where self-confidence should begin.

A way out of this syndrome should be that each person seeking advantage of a reservation under a caste quota should swear an affidavitthat he or she has suffered from the consequences of backwardness and needs the shelter of reservations. Such a procedure should induce many an enterprising youth to not sign the affidavit and be treated as any other citizen of India. In turn, the weaker or a more disadvantaged backward would get an opportunity. This is a process which should help an upward mobility or a move toward social equality.

This is one example of a schematic approach to pull people upwards. True, many upper caste Hindus have tried, as it were, to  forget their castes, to cut out their surnames but has that really helped? The collective memory is so deep. After all, castes are as old , as the Hindu society. They began as a method of accommodating a new group of people into the community without its having to lose its individual identity. In other words, castes, to begin with, were not discriminatory but the distinctions eventually turned into an evil as we know it in recent times.Wishing away the evil would not help. The problem has to be faced boldly.

One way of diluting a caste identity is to attract people to a larger loyalty. In this context, Hindutva or cultural nationalism can play a yeoman's role. The prouder we can be of being Indian, the less we will remember what else we are. And this includes not merely Hindus but also members of other communities like Christians and Muslims.

Urbanisation is a useful antidote to casteism. When a person arrives in a city, he might or might not leave behind his caste prejudices but certainly has to give up many of its practices. Moreover, his children grow up without the prejudices. If the person happens to go in for an inter-caste marriage, so much the better. In Euro America, upto 95 percent of the people are occupied in non agricultural pursuits. Only five percent or so directly live off farming. In the event, even villages look like small towns and are not a picture of the rural areas with which we are familiar in our country. It is inevitable that India will also become more and more urban and less and less rural. Today, of course, about 70 percent of our people in India are directly dependent on agriculture, incontrast to only about five per cent in Europe and America. To that extent, the tide is against casteism.

The Saffron Book
Prafull Goradia
1. Awake and Unite!
2. Why The Saffron Book?

10. Small States
3. Vision
4. Economic Face
5. Abolish Casteism
6. Bride Burning, Divorce
7. Rape, Prostitution
8. Revolutionising Education
9. The Constitution

11. Nationalism
12. Pan-Islamism
13. Communism
14. Subnationalism
15. Casteism

16. Hindutva is Dialectical
17. Origin of Hinduism
18. Medieval Phase
19. Modern Resurgence
20. Not Fundamentalism
21. Not Fascism
22. Tolerance
23. Strengths
24. Weaknesses
25. Opportunities
26. Threats
27. Individual Brilliance

Hindu Paradoxes
42. Idolatry
43. Fatalism
44. Double Standards
45. Masochistic Fringe
46. Fifth Column
47. No Soul before Birth

48. Proselytising Unwelcome
49. Myth of Divide and Rule

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