Nothing has Changed
Sixty years ago:
Jawaharlal Nehru wrote about the caste system in India in The Discovery of India:
The caste system does not stand by itself; it is a part, and an integral part, of a much larger scheme of social organisation. It may be possible to remove some ot its obvious abuses and to lessen its regidity, and yet to leave the system intact. But that is highly unlikely, as the social and economic forces at play are not much concerned with this superstructure; they are attacking it at the base and undermining the other supports which held it up.
The first question that struck me when I read this was: have things changed? The answer was an obvious no.
This was written at a time when India was knocking on the doors of self-reliance. There were leaders like Dr BR Ambedkar changing the fates of people oppressed by the caste system. India has since been able to overcome (to varying extents) so many of it economic problems on its own–poverty, lack of industrialisation, food security and so on. But the caste system (i.e. its evils) continue to thrive. If anything, today’s India is more burdened by them than the one 60 years ago.
Reservations on the basis of castes in government organisations are omnipresent. Politicians continue to exploit people on the basis of their castes to garner votes. One of the shining examples of this is Maharani Mayawati. She unveiled her own statue a couple of days back. Rahul Gandhi, the heir apparent in the backbone-less Congress (I), is going from one Dalit village to another trying to woo them. None of them have done anything to remove the evils of caste system.
Yet, it would be safe to say that in many parts of India, the caste of a person does not matter much, especially in the big cities and in the private sector. Things have indeed gotten better for the dalits, but only the ones who have educated themselves / their next generation.
The status quo from 60 years ago, remains.
Lyrics for the moment:
Hairat ho sabko, aisa ajooba hai mera jahaan.