Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will we ever leave caste, religion and gender?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine and she was excited at Meera Kumar being elected as the speaker of the Lok Sabha. She had shown me the same excitement when Prathiba Patel was elected as the President of India. She had hailed it as victory day for Indian women. I had then asked her “whom would you choose between a visionary leader and women leader? She was sane enough to reply that she would choose visionary leader.

I don't mean to sound like an anti-feminist but the question arises will we ever come out of the clutches of caste, religion and gender? The political fraternity is hailing the election of Meera Kumari as the speaker of the Lok Sabha. After all she is the first Dalit and first Women to have reached the post. The question is not limited to that of women being elevated to highest post in the temple of Indian Democracy but why are we promoting this divide even in the 21st Century?.

A Dalit, a Woman or a Muslim being made the President of India is made to look out as a certificate to the pluralism of Indian democracy. But the fact remains these are mere tokenism which have done more harm to the nation than good. Many might hail such tokenism a testament to the Indian pluralism but the truth is they always remind us of our harsh divide.

Among the Fundamental Rights that the Constitution of India grants 'Right to Equality' stands tall but isn't this abused in the name of pluralism. Why are reservations still given on the name of cast, religion and language? Why isn't a Muslim women entitled to maintenance after divorce just like her Hindu counterpart? Why are certain section sections of the society exempted from the income tax in the name of bringing them to forefront? Aren't we all equal under the purview of the Indian Constitution?

All this has meant that we have championed the cause of identity politics. The upper cast have always felt their rights are given to the backward casts and other religions in the name of social upliftment. This meant the upper castes always hated the lower castes and the lower castes in return looked at the upper caste with suspicion. The seeds of caste and religion based politics were sown here.

We can't even think of an India where a Hindu is the Minority Affairs Minister or a upper caste Brahmin a Minister of Tribal Affairs. We can't believe in 'Best Men For The Job' idea and are happy to see one among our won lead us to shambles as long as he prays to the same god and speaks the same language. We will never learn from the examples of how an Albania lady by the name of Mother Teresa did more humanitarian work in India than any other Indian. Had it been in the hands of our political class this wouldn't have been allowed. How can a foreign national understand the pain of common Indians?

It's high time we grow up as a nation and not sing praises for mere political tokenism and feel proud about our great democratic values. Let reform, development and progress be the word in place of caste, religion and gender.


freakyparo June 4, 2009 at 6:11 PM  

What man? Meera Kumar is the daughter of former deputy PM Babu Jagjivan Ram . She herself was in IFS and worked for Embassy of India, Madrid. What does she know what toil and hardships a real dalit has to face!This is Congress' people pleasing policy just like having 70+ cabinet ministers!! In their attempt to camouflage a democratic government, Congress has ended up making a vulgar display of Dynasty and Caste politics!!I agree with your point of view and condemn the Congress for such lame and cheap political tricks. This is nothing but sheer hypocrisy!

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Anonymous,  June 8, 2009 at 12:58 AM  

Dunno wats da deal...da first comment revolves around crucifyin Meira Kumar coz she has obviously seen opulence.So better if we had anointed a dalit widout ne credentials,comprehension or political knowledge...rite from da grassroots???wtf???

Maybe meira aint da best choice fr da job..but y are ppl intent on not pointin her incapability...rather everyones goin gung ho over lily livered clown flavoured fantasies of her well-off past as a disqualification????Maybe..mayawati qualifies bigtime....

Newayz...jus a query..if not meera,whom?Got some bright ideas?Dude...we dun even know if she mite be a gud speaker or not...and we indians were never known for gud decision makin...we were known for livin thru bad lets see if gambles pay off..else same old story

Anonymous,  June 8, 2009 at 1:03 AM  

@We will never learn from the examples of how an Albania lady by the name of Mother Teresa did more humanitarian work in India than any other Indian. Had it been in the hands of our political class this wouldn't have been allowed. How can a foreign national understand the pain of common Indians?

I guess Albanian implies foreign national...unless we gotta albania in some nook of da country...but ain't u stereotypin foreign nationals?If i ask common indians understand "our" common problems?

Divya June 18, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

Your post shows a rather irrational idealism.

You don't mean to sound anti-feminist, you say. Well, I'm afraid that you sound not just anti-feminist, but also anti-minorities and anti-equality.

You say the tokenism reminds us of the harsh divide. You mean you'd forget about the harsh divide if it wasn't for tokenism and reservations? I guess the minorities, Dalits and women in India would be doing really well now if not for these pesky reforms...

To answer your Muslim/Hindu women question, read up on the issue of the Uniform Civil Code.

Certain sections of society are exempt from paying tax because if they did, there would be more homeless people on the roads than there are now. But I supposed that doesn't matter to you as long as everyone pays tax in the name of equality.

Also, I would like to know: where are all these Best Men for the Job that you keep proclaiming about who are going to do such good deeds for poor downtrodden people?

subhadeepbhattacharjee June 18, 2009 at 6:19 PM  

If talking about equality means I am a anti-minority I don't have any problem....You seemed to have learnt life through algebra where two negatives make a positive......Bu carrying on the reservation for 60 years to balance out exploitation done centuries before is not the best possible solution....I don't see a logic behind denying a seat in a medical institution to a meritorious student in the name of reservation......You might not be aware but a person like Kalam was respected all across the country because he was not a political appointee.....I and many like me would lick his feet because he deserved the position he was in.....I hope you get my point

Divya June 19, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

I have several problems with your comment:

'If talking about equality means I am anti-minority then I am okay with it.' Um, excuse me? Oxymoron much?

'Carrying on reservations for 60 years to balance out the exploitation from before is not the best possible solution.' Well, let's hear yours then?

'I don't see the logic behind denying a seat in a medical institution to a meritorious student in the name of reservation.' Let me explain the logic: Take one case of a middle class boy who has had the opportunity to go to a good school, good college, good tuitions, and has the time to study at home because he has easy access to nutritious food that his family has made available. Of course it is expected that he will do well and get good marks. Now take the other case, of the boy from an SC/ST background, who has somehow managed to go to a school and reached the level of college, is now more educated than his paernts - no telling whether he has been able to afford tuitions and books - not to mention the fact that he is probably supplementing his family income by working alongside and has less time to study. Must he not aspire as high as the middle class boy just because he is from a lower socio-economic background? In the light of all this, does reservation still seem like a horrid idea to you?

In any case, the middle class boy is probably going to finish his course and take off abroad and contribute to some other country's development.

And by the way, I am pretty sure that Kalam is respected because of his vision, background and ethics. Not because 'he was not a political appointee.'

subhadeepbhattacharjee June 26, 2009 at 5:15 PM  

Then why not reserve 100% for SC/ST.....for the next 25 years.....and not all middle class boys go abroad.....and if the Constitution talks of equality it should not tile leave behind the contact of your blog so that we can have a nice debate

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