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Caste-System, or the benefits of confusion

Politics in India are caste-based. In other words, caste is the classification/unification that is politically the most significant. On the face of it, going by a plethora of hazy principles, it appears to be a bad practice. Not so, I believe, if we ponder a little on the obvious (and hence trivial) observation like this:

“India is a country of no majority, just infinite minorities. No caste has more than 20 percent of the population, and the ethnic/caste dynamic is increasingly transforming toward class/interest politics.”
Teaching India

In a democracy, by definition, the common man gets to choose who rules the country. However, the common man has no motivation to make informed opinions on issues that do not concern his daily life. In a country like India, this means that the common man does not care about anything beyond his immediate security and wealth. It is a tempting blunder to add pleasure to be a concern, so we won’t.

Thus democracy works in a manner that is not entirely obvious. Different sets of people choose their local leaders whose decisions they follow, these leaders have their own leaders and this hierarchy ends in political parties. In the electoral process the representatives of these parties contest against each other and those with larger support bases reach the parliament. Those among these representatives, who are elected by the rest, ‘rule’; which means they get to chose which bureaucrats get to influence their decisions because, government is not a trivial thing that should be left to the common man 😉

In such a system caste forms the lowest level of selection, people choosing the local leaders. Since there are no majorities among the castes, there can be as little action directed at a section of the population as possible. Obviously, it is much safer than economic and religious based politics whose logical (and often inevitable) conclusion is in a Communist or Theocratic (either-way Totalitarian) regimes that exterminate all dissent.

So it is in our best interest to save the existing caste system. It stabilizes the system enough to make it look like a Juggernaut, slow to move but unstoppable.

Looking at it this way, it is not at all surprising that our textbooks demonize religion the most, and caste-system the second most. Over a period of time as people get conditioned against the caste based politics, owing to their contempt for religion-based politics, they will gradually move into the communist system of politics government which, our text book authors believe, is a good thing to happen! Once there, people don’t have to bear the burden of the political process! The hazy principles that I mentioned at the beginning are nothing but this conditioning, not very unlike the religious conditioning that we hate. How we select one school of condition over some other, most probably, is the issue that determines everything.

Before some one jumps to any such conclusion, I have to clarify that I am not defending untouchability. What I am supporting here is the sustainance of diversity, not oppression.

Written by kowsik

July 16, 2008 at 03:06

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