An Episode of Discrimination – A Story of 2 Sikhs but Different Castes.

“Caste has Killed Public Spirit. Caste has Destroyed the Sense of Public Charity. Caste has made Public Opinion Impossible. Virtue has become Caste Ridden and Morality has become Caste Bound.” – Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

Discrimination on Caste has its roots in India. Most think that the practice has gone but in reality the practice has been suppressed by the legal machinery. The only difference is that the people don’t follow it actively but the discrimination is very well embossed in their brains. Caste-ism will not end until Indian’s accept that the mythological and the religious texts have been influenced by the selfish mentality of the Aryans who were originally not from the Indian Sub Continent. The acceptance that one comes from a higher hierarchy is is one form caste-ism which eventually considers the one from a lower hierarchy as sub-ordinate. There was one such case in my college hostel back in Goa.

I am changing the name’s of the two Sikhs for protecting their privacy.

It was Guru Nanak Jayanti and Karthik was cleaning his room and his stuff. He never wore a turban but was a Sikh by religion, he was also my batch mate. Most students were planning to go to the Guru Dwara at Panjim, Goa which was just 5 kms away and from IHM-Goa (Our College). The agenda was to pray and pay homage to the Guru Nanak and have Langar in the afternoon.

Till this time I had thought that Karthik was a Hindu-Punjabi but when I saw him in his room cleaning for the occasion and asked him as to why he was doing it, he mentioned it was Guru Nanak Jayanti and being a Sikh this day was important. After I came to know this, I went to my seniors room and saw that he was just about to leave. I asked him, “Sir, aren’t you taking Karthik along even he is a Sikh and you should go together after all how many are there in  the college”. The senior got furious and said, “Don’t compare me with him. He is not the Sikh which I am, he a different type of Sikh. Don’t ever compare me with him and I will never go with him or consider him as one of ours, as he is a different bloodline.”

I felt confused and went to Karthik’s room where my room mate Ganesh was also sitting. I asked Karthik, “Hey, which type of Sikh are you?” and he said, “There is no type in Sikhs, all are just Sikhs”. Then I mentioned what my senior Purab said, “Purab Sir mentioned that you are a different type of Sikh and was very rebellious to not going along with you.” To this Karthik became both sad and angry and uttered tons of Punjabi Style bad words. Then he revealed the bitter truth.

He mentioned that they are Dalits who converted to Sikhism. He mentioned that Dr. Ambedkar had once announced that he might convert to Sikhism and out of joy and rebel the entire village of Dalits converted to Sikhism before Dr. Ambedkar changed his decision to convert to  Buddhism. Sikhism doesn’t have the Varna System but never understood why many people still follow. He also mentioned his episodes of active discrimination on the basis of caste.

After hearing this both me and Ganesh felt bad as we were also from the same Hierarchy.

Even I have witnessed many episodes of Caste Discrimination and that too in a a Metropolitan like Mumbai. So, what would have he witnessed in his home in Punjab.

Caste-ism is bad for both society and the country but many people are blaming reservations for the problem while caste-ism is a one of the prime reasons for poverty of several thousand years in India.

Caste-ism and Reservations are very popular in India. While caste-ism is an attack to stop to development of the majority, Reservations in education and government jobs are given defending the attack by uplifting the neglected society.

It is important to know that the lowest Varna including the tribes are about 67% of the Indian population and were discriminated for 2600 years before Independence by get a reservation of only 49% and still the seats remain empty due to poverty and social evils. The better 33% enjoy 51% reservations and their seats go sold out because all are socially stable.

Photo credit: sakeeb via / CC BY



An Encounter to Casteism

‘There’s nothing like caste, we are all the same. All people from the lower caste are economically forward now and they no-longer deserve  reservation. Remove it!” These are the words I normally hear from friends talking to each other and see on social media platforms like facebook and twitter daily. If you have noticed all the people discussing these so called serious issues are mostly from big metros like Mumbai and Kolkata.

Why I know what people think? I look like a higher class person (as reviewed by some of my friends) because of my Jewish ancestors. So, many people don’t suspect me to be from the so called backward community and vomit their harsh words in front of me. I am smart when it comes to knowing what people think and I never argue at front but I listen carefully. Out of many such cases there was a direct reference from a fellow colleague who said not only harsh words but referred the people of the backward class as ‘an inscect from the gutter which should be erradicated’, nope not the eradication of the caste system the eradication by killing he meant. Let me narrate it.

After I completed my bachelors and before I started working in hotels, I worked in a call centre in Powai, Mumbai for three months. I always wanted to experience the call centre after I read Chetan Bhagat’s comparitively not so famous book ‘One Night @ the Call Centre.’ For three months I was meeting new people at trainings and at work and the atmosphere felt very liberal and too modern for the conservative society to accept. To reach work my company used to pick me up from my house and leave me at the same place after I finished my hours of duty, the car was pooled and there used to be 2 to 4 of us including myself.

Amit (name changed because I dont remember. Sorry!) and me had the same shifts for almost 2 weeks and were at the verge of becoming best friends and we used to talk about the world and many things  in the 1 hour journey. Processes, college life, politics, Ideas, Education, Career and much more used to be our points of discussion. One day as we were passing a certain locality on the highway, I was shocked to hear these works from my friend. The conversation was as follows;

“Ye, locality dikh rahi hai. Yaha pe India ka kachra rehta hai,” said Amit pointing at the locality and with a face which explained he regards them low.

“Kachra rehta hai matlab?” I asked

“Matlab, saale SC..ST..OBC log. Ye India ka kachra hai. Jab tak ye log zinda hai tab tak iss desh ka kabhi bhala nahi ho sakta. Ye log gatar mai paida hue gatar jaisa baas chodenge aur India ko ganda karenge. Keede hai ye sab. Sab ko maardalna chahiye, ek danga inke saat ho aur hum log inko talwar ghused ghused ke maregne.”

I was so shocked that neither I could show my facial emotions nor could I speak. I was actually more terrified of his thoughts and people like him now.

He continued, “Mera ek dost hai, woh Jai Bhim hai aur usne ek musalman ke saath shaadi ki. Gatar ka toh tha hi woh, ab aur bhi ganda ho gaya hai. Kaise log he ye saab.  Saab ko goli mar ke uda dena chahiye is Golibar ilake me.”

I didn’t utter a word, I was confused whether he knew who I am or not. I was silent for most part of the trip and I only spoke when this conversation happened.

“Kya re Gaurav! Itna shaant kyu hai?” asked Amit.

“Bhai, tune marne maar dalne ki baat kar di. I am shocked.” I said.

“Bhai…tu tension mat le. Hum toh unse upar hai. Unki koi barabari nahi. Bhai, aaj gadi mai sirf tu aur mai tha isliye bola meri maan ki baat, nahi toh kaun kya hai kya pata,” said Amit.

At this point I became angry as I got to know that he spoke to me such harsh words about the backward class community thinking I am not one of them. I was angry about the thoughts of people because this incident was big for me but was one of many such caste discrimination episodes.

Now I spoke in a soft tone, “Terko pata hai Amit, maine BSc kiya hai, ab PG karunga, Call Centre toh time paas hai.” Amit was listening as I spoke further, “mere pitaji ek renowned Custom Officer hai jinko Award mila hai aur unhone bade bade cases solve kiye hai aur ek zamane me voh apni pure salary garibo mat baat dete the voh bhi shaadi hone ke baad. Mere dadajibhi Custom me the, unho ne promotion decline kiya kyuki samaj ko sudharna tha woh Acharya college ke founder member hai. Mere pardada woh Municipalty me the unho ne kayee morche kiye aur kayee gareebo ko zameen dilwaye.”

“Are tu intne bade khandaan se hai?” asked Amit.

“Haah, mera khandan bohut bada hai…Paise se, zubaan se aur dil se bhi. Tujh se bhi bada. Terko pata hai me kaun hu?” I asked.

“Kaun???” Amit asked.

“Mai woh ek Jai Bhim hu!” I exclaimed.

There was a totally different silence in the car. A somewhat disturbed but settled silence. This long silence of Amit was a proof that I had won the war of words and social respect. For me it was a win of my self respect and morals. This was the first instance I realised what people show versus how their thoughts are.

Amit must be a good guy but may be his family speak bad about the backward community and so it passed on. It will pass on again to his children as he will again speak the same in front of his children.

The above is not the only instance from which I am going to conclude my theory of people’s thinking on casteism but it is an important one to know as such people exist on a large scale. When a so called lower community excels and starts gaining positive economic change people think of ending reservation out of jealosy, but when they dont excel people compare them as a negative costant of the society and speak about them behind their back (and speak politely in front of them). Many of my Scheduled Caste friends (of Mumbai) say that casteism has ended, but only only I know how other people speak of them.

Just for knowledge, villages in Maharashtra are further divided into Marathwada and Maharwada. Maharwada is where Mahar’s live and people from the other divisions avoid drinking water from a Mahar’s house or stepping foot in their division.