I am a Casteist and Are You?
I am a political and policy aid aspiring to build something that enhances democracy and promotes developmental politics. To build so, the two biggest challenges existing in society are Money and Caste. Among them, Caste is a much dangerous and complexly rooted problem in society. Observing, researching, and discussing with people, we can concur that it is set deeply in our beliefs, and a world without caste is unlikely. But I think this is a technical problem in the brain that needed technical solution[s].
The Inheritance of Stupidity:
We should analyze the core idea behind the caste in the first place and judge its relevance in modern society. I would like to elucidate this in seven different aspects: Historical, Psychological, Social, Neurological, Economical, Anthropological, and Political.
It all started around 1700–1000 BCE, the classes were derived from the Varna system in Rig Veda. These castes were determined based on which part of Brahma's body a human is born. But controversially and intentionally, we excluded Dalits from these major classes with illogical reasoning and termed them as outcastes in this classification system. Is it because they are not considered as humans?
Whether it is a question of logic or moral, by following this social stratification across generations through continuous discrimination and slavery in one or another form, We had lost the humanity in us, our first defeat in this invisible battle. It had passed on all these centuries only because of our selfishness, inhuman nature, resistance to accepting mistakes, and extreme hatred towards specific segments of society.
Members of the upper caste believed that being in certain classes of castes will give them a sense of security and support for themselves and their livelihood. Thus these communities survived generations through fear of lower caste and later this fear leads to their caste pride. This sense of security they uphold and caste pride they claim engendered insecurity among lower caste society.
Upper caste society is infected heavily by herd mentality, accepting the majoritarian views of a community. We rarely or never think out of these views. This affects the individuality of their members. Here, members were convinced and satisfied with a group identity, rather than building their own individual identity. This reflects heavily on the development of society.
Another psychological effect is that the continuous discriminatory acts of the upper caste led to questioning of self-esteem among the lower caste. Lots of research is happening on this topic to understand its correlation with education to quantify and nullify its effects.
I agree that everyone needed a community to get supported, but we must think about choosing between a Discriminatory system of communities or a community of peaceful coexistence and Development.
Social Discussion Failure:
We were brought up in families that preach how our caste is superior and the concept of pollution caused by lower caste. These useless, artificial adrenaline-pumping stories of a non-existence system create awful energy, that instigates hatred among fellow humans. By default, we are mentally trained to be casteist and in turn, we embrace our caste pride silently and sometimes even violently. These mental pieces of training never teach us to listen to the miseries of the lower caste society. Have we ever discussed with our friend[s] who belongs to a lower caste to understand their meaning of caste?.
This is always been an Open-Secret, that we never wish to take up logical and peaceful dialogues with other communities as we think they don’t even deserve to be discussed. This way of thinking prompted its inheritance across centuries.
The Reticular Activating System(RAS) is a bundle of nerves in our brainstem, which only passes the information that validates our beliefs. It filters your view by the attributes you give it, and what you believe shapes these attributes. If we think we are the superior caste people, we arrive at our superiority over others in all we see. That’s quite natural but it influences our attitude, tone, values, and thoughts.
This is one reason why our parents or we ourselves get defensive when someone criticizes this hierarchy system. This resistance in listening to the things we aren’t trained in results in aggression, as it questions our entire belief system. This was also ended up in violence, or even as riots in someplace.
The entire caste system functions based on ‘restriction’. By restricting lower castes from accessing education, wealth creation opportunities, and certain occupations, they are made weaker in society. Without access to white-collar and many skill-based occupations, they are made to suffer physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. By neglecting their needs and denying them opportunities, the upper castes protected their socio-economic growth without competition. The core idea was to make them believe they aren’t capable enough to take up these jobs.
During certain times in history, the combination of excess population growth and disproportionate resources, the ability to ‘restrict’ opportunities was halted. Even then, income disparities existed, with people being compensated on par with their caste. This continues even today in several rural areas in India making the upper castes wealthier, and lower castes economically downtrodden.
It is interesting to imagine if a communist revolution could have ever taken place if the caste system existed in Europe. If the proletarians were all divided by their caste, how would have then united as one working class against the bourgeoisie?
The lower caste had a poor nutrition level relatively lower than other communities, which intensified by extreme poverty and constant oppression. Apart from that, there is no proven evidence to show that the lower-caste were inferior based on their biological variables by birth compared to the upper caste people.
But practicing it for generations has affected our genetic pieces of information. i.e, through Endogamy, the custom of marrying only within the limits of the same caste. It resulted in fewer genetic variations among the community, which lead to various health and genetic disorders. Researchers have highlighted the problem through the example of “the Vysya population, which has more than 3 million. The Vysyas have about a 100-fold higher rate of a metabolic disorder called Butyrylcholinesterase deficiency compared to other groups. Such people are highly sensitive to anesthesia which is administered before surgery.”
People belonging to upper castes have for generations benefits from their association with political leaders. With greater influence comes greater control and wealth. Caste continues to remain a key determinant in elections today, with each state bringing its own mix of castes to mainstream politics. To win elections and to retain vote banks, parties need to be divisive (rather than inclusive) in their ideology and propaganda. Their justification of ‘representing the voice of their community’, doesn’t permit them to spread hate against other communities.
The caste dynamics is a key metric in selecting a candidate is the unprinted rule in Indian elections. Thus, till we have a sense of caste pride, we’ll get consolidated by these political parties, and the system remains to exist for more centuries.
We might have all felt like caste-ists ourselves oblivious to its impact on society. This is our time to reconsider passing this on to our younger generation. Unless we come together, we can’t eliminate oppression, hate, and inequality. Also,
“We are superior in the social ladder only because others think they were inferior, this hierarchy will collapse only with the change that rewires our thoughts”
Eradicating casteist practices from society begins with an understanding of how prevalent they are. More on this, in my next article.
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