My Views

Caste Determinism

Posted in Caste, Polity, Society by dullar on April 26, 2007

Determinism means — a philosophical theory holding that all events are inevitable consequences of antecedent sufficient causes; often understood as denying the possibility of free will. Caste determinism is a kind of cultural determinism according to which caste considerations take precedence against all other factors in deciding the public relations, policy making and conduct of democratic life in India. Dipankar Gupta in his enlightening piece of writing describes how caste determinism works against democracy, no matter who the beneficiaries might be. He writes,

…..Crude determinism in all forms endangers democracy. Economic determinism gave socialism a bad name and eventuallydismantled the mighty Soviet Union. Even the charismatic intellectual reputation of Karl Marxwas belittled by the dogmatic material determinismof latter -day Marxists. By the same token, let not caste slurs and sneers, and a few tarnished pieces of political silver, undermine over hard-earned democracy…..

It is well known and much debated a issue that how the caste and its social and political repercussions has grossly divided the well woven fabric of our society. Of late much politicisation of the caste issues and the whole reservation matters has gathered big storm all over the country. Reading at the lines above and the whole article of Dipankar Gupta iwould like to highlight an another fine point about “power” in society. From a deterministic stand and taking dialectic point of view of Marx and Max Weber defines power as

“that opportunity existing within a social relationship which permits one to carry out one’s own will even against resistance and regardless of the basis on which this opportunity rests”

Caste in mordern day Indian political perspective is a tool to assert the dominance of one group over the other in making concessions available to its own people. By this logic caste is inherently a divisive concept. This is the tool used by political leaders inorder to gain vote banks of any particular caste. This is the tool, which when qualified with prefix of “backward” along with term class (social grouping in economic terms) is used by people in order to gain otherwise legitimate constitutional concessions. Backwardness is a tool, it is a permanent qualification which is gained on the basis of “birth” according to Hindu Caste System, which the people are not ready to leave and in fact are fighting to attain.

There is much worry among the more enlightened and more intellectual among the learned people in this country as what should be or would be the possible solution to stop the rapidly furthering casteist divisions in the society. The answer to that lies in the process which makes the casteist affiliations redundant in order to gain political, economic, social and educational rewards. This will be done while we march steadily on the path of euitable development and also in making extending the opportunities of excelling without concessional overtones. What i mean to say here can be more understandable by the example of providing quality education at all levels. Provide equitable, well extended, quality education to each and every section of society at the primary and secondary levels so that the class/caste differences in performances and merit do not creep in at the university levels.

There is no denying to the fact that caste determinism is there in our society. And i say there is no point in discussing it. Accept it. And make efforts in ofer to challenge it in future. The acedemicia and intellectuals of our country have much to do in order to pull the efforts to their logical and desirable ends.

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