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ERASED FOOTSTEPS, PROMINENT ROT - India’s problem with the caste system

Only if people would read the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, study the golden ages of Gupta and Mauryan empire, know Mughals, they would realise, India is not an underdeveloped country rather a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay" – Shashi Tharoor / The great India Novel

The corporeality of human evolution worldwide has always been rationalised in the facets of its social trajectory towards advancement. There are new narratives of these furtherances seen in every generation. But where we fail to latch our thoughts is the certitude that where mortals have done such a pronounced job moving forward, utterances of pathetically demeaning social nodus perpetually drag us back to the ancestry of the conservative humankind that we claim to have evolved from. To name a few, it's rather unfortunate that cases of ageism, sexism, casteism – {caste related social violence and aggressiveness} are still in existence. The ancestry of these issues forlornly finds their genesis in the recent history of India with deepened gravity along the years of colonialism, when the Englishmen incorporated these notions into their administrative policies so as to cater to their convention of depopulating any resistance. Violations of social rights and caste discriminations of plural characters have added nuances to them. Casteism has thus appeared as a plague on the pre-colonial as well as post-colonial Indian society. As a subject of study, it has always been a very delicate topic. Being a sensitive issue, it often gets mixed up with politics, class, cultural and regional frictions. But, the most cardinal issue to question is – who catalysed this whole system to an extent where drinking water from the same well somehow denotes disregard to the upper castes and gives them the singular autonomy over the bodies of those from the lower?

In many urbanised territories where casteism has been de-weaponised, this notion is attributed as a social evil that robs people of their human rights and deprives them of basic human treatment. This upshot in preponderance bears consequences that itself call for an out-sight on the check, balance and an immediate disposal of the system that treats humans with such disdain, disregard and outright hatred. Change is not dismantling the old; it is about building the new. That apart, society puts a veil on the rawness, bleakness and truthfulness of the sum and substance of human nature and conduct and programs us all in the modus operandi it considers to be "acceptable". We've been conditioned in a way that doesn't pose a threat to the thread of preconceived notions of our society. When we talk about tearing the social fabric down, we talk about entities causing social issues, brutalities, relational webs etc. So, let's begin with that. Casteism without any decoration is the implicit categorisation of castes ( brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras). In India, this system has gathered a rather gloom-ridden gravity. With casteism comes along violence, intolerance, aggressiveness and unacceptability. These individual grids encapsulate the pain and sufferings of galore numbers of proletariats. The violence and intolerance in a subtle tone include untouchability, murder, rape, bonded slavery and much more. This fabric of social dominance of the upper castes over the lower castes that envelopes us is nothing but a preconceived notion that is taught to us through wrongly interpreted religious scriptures. The cardinality of this misinterpretation is the sole reason underpinning any brutal utterance taking place today so, as Shashi Tharoor said, "only if we would the Ramayana and the Mahabharata......... advanced state of decay", we are on a steep downward slope from bad to worse.

Talking about this brings us to a very conspicuous point and probably the most consequential one of all: the present. This might seem amusing and surprisingly deadly against the new narrative that India has been writing. So much has been sculpted and moulded through our constitution, yet there is an unchecked caste infrastructure that still largely subordinates the so-called lower castes. The water of the old river has found its ways into the latter days, and this intolerance is meant to send a message, and the pain inflicted is meant to maintain the old social order of India. The practice of untouchability categorising mortals belonging to the lower castes as "poisonous snakes" in the political and social realm has been discarded by the constitution and has been made null and void. But is that all? Does it plaster the existence of the practice altogether? The simple answer to this can easily be found in newspapers every day, where caste-based violence still find a place. It's almost pathetic to paint the picture of the lives led by the Dalits, constantly tortured and nearly maimed to death, begging for just one square meal per day. Truth be told, it is beyond human capabilities to forbear what they have been tolerating for ages. But, for what? For a socially spun, man-made myth of caste impelling the son of a shudra to sweep streets and wash dishes and the daughter of a brahmin to get married to an intelligent, handsome young man, which will determine the extent of her success. How is your caste decided? Who decides it? Are we really born into it? Is it really innate? Is this what is left of our system? Unfortunately, if we sieve through it, the only substance would be 'the feeling of being superior'. We don't take into cognisance the sufferings of millions who bear every stroke of pain just so that we get to feel "good". We turn over the pages and ignore the chapters of humanity that has always been preached. Why do we forget that- in the end, they are humans, just like us. The same blood flows through their veins, same six sense organs, same hands, same tongue. They are just as human as we are: caste, creed, race, colour, gender regardless.

To get a measure of it, no gender, no race, no caste, no creed, no religion is ever the same. They're not the same because they're different. And the same difference is not a portal leading to baseless dominance. We're all assorted in ways that diverge from a single point, and that point is humanity. Humanity is the only gender, race, caste, creed, and it is the only verity that every religion has ever preached. Let's live up to it and stand strong and united and accommodate all the differences because consolidated; we can all make a monumental difference. So, let's use our differences to make a difference.

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