‘Modern India’ Continues To Cripple With Burden Of Casteism And Blind Orthodoxy


It is widely believed that the caste system is on the decline in today’s globalised and contemporary world. At the same time, people of lower castes have been subjected to extreme kinds of discrimination, violence, and humiliation in a variety of settings during the past few years, including public spaces, workplaces, public transportation, and schools. People of lower social classes are being lynched and killed, as well as subjected to physical and verbal abuse, for seemingly trivial reasons, such as using the communal water supply, taking up prime seating in the classroom, owning a horse, or sporting a hip moustache.

In recent years, members of the dominant castes have been seen showing solidarity with the accused and viewing the conviction or legal action against them as an affront to their caste pride or identity. Instead of uniting in condemnation of atrocities and support for victims, these communities often resort to caste-based identity politics, holding others responsible for the smearing of their social class. On the other hand, not all sectors of Indian society are united in their support for the victim(s) and their loved ones. Caste crimes occurred in Hathras and Jalore, and certain sub-caste groups publicly supported the perpetrators by standing in sympathy with them and staging meetings, demonstrations, and protests.

These demonstrations, gatherings, and protests also attracted many young people from such sub-caste groupings, the vast majority of whom were college-educated and comfortably-established adults. Children and young minds are being mistakenly taught that their caste identity is in crisis through participation in such demonstrations and assemblies, feeding the sense of caste pride and a superiority mentality. As a result of widespread access to the internet and mobile devices, today’s young are always up-to-date on events like these and frequently show up to protests. These young people would occasionally make headlines when they defended their caste identity in open forums.

Various cremation sites for different castes, separate water pots for lower and upper castes, and separate utensils for serving mid day meals to lower-caste pupils in schools all demonstrate how pervasive the idea of caste-based inequality is in the twenty-first century. The grooms of Dalit groups who choose to ride horses in their wedding processions are also targets of violence and harassment. Young people in rural regions are increasingly demanding equal treatment in all spheres of society, but the established upper-caste elites are resistant to change since they still uphold feudal values. Recent attacks on the Dalit community by the ruling castes have been motivated not just by conventional factors like envy and fear of losing caste dominance and economic rivalry.

In the past, it has been thought that caste prejudice, pride, and a sense of superiority only exist in rural regions. However, the caste system has recently been observed in metropolitan areas, multinational corporations, and prestigious universities. Many urban apartments are stratified by caste and religion, with residents belonging to the same social stratum and faith. Intentionally or not, people’s castes are brought up in conversation when they are trying to sell or rent these apartments. Other parts of metropolitan areas may also be home to caste-based communities and customs.

Discrimination, assault, and humiliation of Dalit students based on their caste are increasingly being reported at universities. The prevalence of casteism and untouchability on college campuses is evidenced by the suicide of Dalit students at several schools of medicine and engineering. Students from lower castes are often reluctant to open up about their social status because of the negative reactions they receive from students from higher castes. It’s not only their classmates that treat them unfairly; teachers do, too, when it comes to grading, answering questions, and assisting with future plans. This is why pupils from lower social classes are often subjected to verbal and psychological abuse at the hands of their more privileged peers. These children seldom are able to forget such chronic mental anguish, which often leads them to either commit suicide or drop out of school before graduating.

Discrimination based on caste is no longer restricted to Indian culture; it has gained widespread attention and visibility across the world. The tech giant Apple has updated its employee behaviour code to forbid caste-based discriminatory actions. In June of 2020, an engineer from a lower social class claimed that two senior workers from a higher social class were trying to sabotage his career in Silicon Valley.

To that end, numerous educational institutions in the United States (US) have included caste as a “protected group” in their anti-discrimination curricula. It’s no longer a secret that casteism and caste-based discrimination exist, either at India’s higher education institutions or in the United States’ and elsewhere. Another common misconception is that educated individuals do not participate in caste and instead believe in equality. However, recent events have shown that caste supremacy is deeply rooted in rural and urban places, among educated and illiterate people, in India and elsewhere.