It’s a well-known fact that Casteism has played a very calamitous and detrimental role in the growth and development of the Indian sub-continent. Coupled with its twin ‘Karma’, it kept generations of masses under subjugation and ignorance.
Under casteism, people willfully subjected their lives and dignity, to a few who considered themselves to have evolved from the ‘face of Brahma’. The lower castes were made to believe that they were lesser humans with no intrinsic value and were born into this state of misery and deploration, due to their karma in their earlier births; The uppermost caste considered themselves to be the most privileged among the castes and claimed supremacy as they believed that their good ‘karma’ in their previous births enabled them to be born into the most privileged castes . The lack of knowledge and the inability to think, fuelled by the fear of the unknown gods, the untouchables ( this was how the lower castes were later known as) willfully accepted their state as their fate ( unchanging) and blamed their birth for their misfortunes. Little did they realize that too were humans with equal values and intrinsic abilities and were not citizens of lesser births.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge – The Bible
It took several reformers and years of reformative work, to even start sowing the seeds of hope and restoration, for these underclass humans; and now we have begun to see the fruit of the hard labor of the many unsung heroes, who fought for the dignity of these people expecting nothing in return. Reservation, a system introduced to undo the centuries of abuse and inequality has been largely successful in helping many from the marginalized communities to get a new lease of life; though there are instances of abuse of the reservation system by some selfish vested interests, often at the cost of their own community. Perhaps, this is an appalling reminder of the fact that we humans are innately selfish and greedy, sometimes even at the cost of our own people and family.
It’s a well-known fact that Casteism played a very calamitous and detrimental role in the growth and development of the Indian sub-continent. Coupled with its twin ‘Karma’, it kept generations of masses under subjugation and ignorance.
Education has liberated many, and helped them find economic independence from the abuses of casteism. Though, casteism is slowing losing its hold on people, its benefactors and proponents are trying everything possible to keep it alive. Casteism has managed to find a new form, known as ‘Classism’;
If under the old casteism, a person’s occupation was tied to his birth; under classism, a person’s reputation is tied to the occupation one is engaged in. In other words, for e.g. under casteism, a person born into a family of scavengers, has to remain so, for the rest of his life, and his future generations, are expected to follow in his stead. Under classism, a person engaged in a work ‘cleaning toilets’ has no reputation whatsoever, among those working in white and blue collar jobs and would often be down looked upon.
I never really thought of this as an abuse or degradation, until I studied some of the other cultures around the world. In certain countries like the US, a sanitation worker known as ‘Janitors’ would be given the same honor and respect as that of other professionals such as ‘school principals’ so much so that a man who started his career as a janitor became the ‘school principal’ in due course of time; However, in our country, such a steep growth would be highly improbable, given the way ‘janitors’ are treated with disdain.
A sad truth: Success, in our country, is measured in terms of the financial prospects of a vocation, rather than the value one adds to their life & society.
Our children are expected and taught to score high, as that alone would guarantee them a place among the elites- the doctors, the engineers and the like. Success, in our country, is measured in terms of the financial prospects of a vocation, rather than the value one adds to their life & society, and the contentment one gets out of engaging in a profession.
It’s a typical case of ‘ROI’ -return on investment: Parents spend lavishly on their children’s education so that one day they can make a six figure salary and make up for what they invested in. Please don’t mistake me, by stating this I’m under no circumstance, belittling the hard work and sacrifice of our parents. My parents have sacrificed much, to give me and my sister a comfortable life and a good quality education. I would not say anything that would undermine our parents, who too are victims of our social structure. However, what I am concerned about is the way we subconsciously judge and assign a value to an individual based on their profession. Why disparage someone and elevate someone else? I’m not implying that we should not be ambitious and aspire to rise up our ladders, I have aspirations as well, however, I’m appalled at the way we judge and denigrate just because they engage in a certain kind of profession. The world will not be able to function if everyone is a doctor or if everyone is an engineer; We need people across varied fields and professions; Every profession is there for a purpose and no one should face humiliation or discrimination based on their profession. Every human life is valuable and every profession high or low is worthy of respect and honor.
If we learn to respect and serve each other without any bias or prejudice, the world as we know will be a much better place.
Unfortunately, we live in a predominantly survivalist culture, that focuses primarily on minting money, and moving to the next higher step of the social ladder, irrespective of what the costs are. Sometimes, they do so, at the very cost of their happiness and family life.
I recently came across a news article about a young boy battling cancer, who dreamt of driving a garbage truck. His parents, watching their son show such enthusiasm bought him garbage truck toys as that was his only request for every Christmas( yes, there are even toys for that). I was surprised to read about it in the first place and was even more surprised and amused when I read about how the parents even encouraged their son’s likings ( this would be considered outrageous and demeaning in our culture). The highlight of this whole story was an anonymous donor, who wanting to see the boy’s wish to come true, arranged a real truck with his name on the sides and let him drive the truck with some help (click here for the article). This was quite fascinating to read as it reflected a culture where no profession is considered mean or derogatory. Perhaps, something for us to learn from! I’m not inferring that prejudices don’t exist in such cultures, obviously, they do! however, from a cultural context they don’t discriminate or have prejudices against those from specific vocation.
Indians, are known world-over for being a ‘highly ambitious and hungry’ ethnic group, especially when it comes to their career aspirations, and these are, in fact, the qualities that have taken many of us to highly coveted positions, in some of the prestigious organizations’ world over. However, on the flip-side, this has equally caused many, who failed to keep up these standards, end their lives or become psychologically depressed. Such often unmet goals, and so called dreams, have resulted in many unhappy families and thereby children.
I’ve personally seen many in my workplace, who in spite of having been blessed with above-average salaries, keep murmuring about unmet career goals, such as being unable to travel overseas; if they had travelled, then they complains about not being about to stay long enough; if they stay long enough, they complain about low wages ( when compared to others ) and not being able to settle there; still some complain about, not being able to make as much, as the guy in the next cubicle, and the list goes on.
I used to often wonder, if people have ceased to live for the present, and instead dwell on the past, or are anxious about the future. As my friend Mr. Jonah Rodney said
“There is always much you can do in the present than you could ever do in the past or in the future! Because ‘the past’ is no longer yours and ‘the future’ may never be yours! ” – Jonah Rodney
In order to live a life of happiness, we first need to understand that life is not a rat race, and no matter where we start and what we do, what matters the most, is the legacy we leave behind, and not our bank balances.
Every human being, in any vocation deserves mutual respect, prominence, equality and adulation!
It’s not about where we start, but about where we will end.
Let’s build a culture of equality and contentment, where every one can thrive irrespective of their background or vocation.
Let’s strive together to build a casteless & classless society filled with ‘Love & Peace’.
God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever (irrespective of their caste, class or race) believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life (eternity set in their hearts)