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The American Declaration of Independence of 1776 proclaimed “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal–“, and a similar declaration was made in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ in 1789 by the French National Assembly during the great French Revolution. 


But the truth is that even more than 2 centuries later the caste system which perpetuates inequality still prevails in most of India, acting as a huge obstacle to India’s progress. It is a curse on India, and unless it is destroyed India can never rise as a great prosperous nation. And to destroy it is not possible within the present system but requires a Revolution. 


I have expressed my views about the caste system in several of my articles on my blog Satyam Bruyat which may be seen e.g. ‘Caste system in India’, ‘Brahmins’, etc. While in theory there is no caste in Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, in practice there is, e.g. among Muslims (see my blogs ‘Caste among Indian Muslims’ and ‘Ashrafs, Ajlafs and Arzals’), among Sikhs (see my article ‘Guru Nanak and the Sikhs’ on the portal SaddaHaq and ‘Justice Katju makes remarks on Sikhs and Caste discrimination’ on the portal, and among Christians (see ‘Caste system among Indian Christians’ in Wikipedia). I therefore need not repeat all that is said there, but may recapitulate, elaborate and clarify a few points.


  1. Origin of the caste system:


In all probability the caste system had a racial origin, the invasion/immigration into India of the Aryans, a white coloured people, into a country inhabited by dark coloured people. Many people deny the theory of Aryan invasion/immigration into India, but the following facts give it overwhelming support :


(1) Linguistics and the studies of scholars like Sir William Jones shows the striking similarities between Sanskrit and European languages like Greek and Latin, indicating common ancestors of speakers of both. It is difficult to believe that Aryans were originally from India and then migrated to Europe, because people usually migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable ones. Why should people have migrated from such a comfortable region like India to cold uncomfortable regions like Afghanistan, Russia etc? Rather the theory which appeals to common sense is that Aryans were originally from some place like the steppes of Russia, and later one branch migrated westwards into Europe, and another southwards to Persia and India.


(2) Caste system is called ‘varna vyavastha’. The word ‘varna’ in Sanskrit literally means color, so ‘varna vyavastha’ translates as ‘ color system’, indicating a racial origin. Even today, dalits are proportionately darker in complexion than the upper castes (though no doubt there are many fair complexioned Dalits and dark complexioned upper caste people, which could be because of later inter-mingling). Fair complexion is even today preferred to dark complexion, as can be often seen in matrimonial advertisements. 


(3) A reading of some verses in the Rigveda gives the impression that a war is going on between the invading Aryans and the earlier inhabitants. Indra is a war god in the Rigveda (he later became a rain god when the war had been won) who is leading the Aryans to victory over the ‘dasyus’.


(4) There is genetic support of the theory.


  1. Later development of the caste system:


As mentioned above, in all probability the caste system had a racial origin. However, it subsequently developed into the feudal occupational division of labor in society, which at one time resulted in great progress (though today it has become a curse). I have discussed this in great detail in my article ‘The caste system in India’ which can be seen on my blog Satyam Bruyat. Hence I am not repeating it here.


  1. Ordinarily the superstructure in society (the political system, customs, laws, structure of society etc.) corresponds to the substructure (the mode of production and economic system), but this is not a mechanical correspondence. It often happens that even after the substructure has changed, the old superstructure lingers on for a considerable time. For example, though the bourgeois economy had developed considerably in France before the French Revolution of 1789, the feudal superstructure (Kings, aristocracy etc.) continued for long until it was destroyed by the Revolutions of 1789, 1830 and 1848. 


Women are regarded as inferior to men in feudal society, but as equals in industrial society (see my article ‘On Women’s Emancipation’ on my blog Satyam Bruyat). However, even in the USA, the most industrialized country in the world, women got the right to vote after decades of struggle by the suffragette movement only in 1920.


The caste system is a feudal institution. The feudal economy (zamindari system) had been destroyed largely by the zamindari abolition laws promulgated in most states after Independence and growth of bourgeois relations. Yet the feudal caste system has still widely continued. Most people in India still marry within their castes, and dalits are looked down upon as inferiors. ‘Honour killings’ are common, and a dalit boy marrying, or even having an affair, with a non dalit girl is often inviting a death sentence.


Intercaste clashes are common even today e.g. clashes between Rajputs and Dalits in Saharanpur, Meerut etc. in UP and among students in Tamilnadu Universities. The most recent incident was on 27th February, 2019 in village Anathur in Villupuram district of Tamilnadu, where a dalit youth secretly married a girl of the vanniyar caste, and the couple then fled to an undisclosed place. The consequence was that 100 (some reports say 300) vanniyar men attacked dalits in that village, vandalized their houses, beat up even women and small children and wrecked vehicles.


It is not just the uneducated who are casteist in India. Elections to bar associations are often fought on caste basis, and professors in Universities often support people of their caste.


  1. The Constitution of India provides for parliamentary democracy in India. But parliamentary democracy in India runs largely on caste and communal vote banks. When people go to vote in most parts of India they do not see the merits of the candidate but only his caste or religion (or the party representing their caste or religion). Casteism and communalism are feudal forces which need to be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them. It is therefore obvious that the caste system cannot be destroyed and India cannot progress as long as it has parliamentary democracy. And parliamentary democracy can only be abolished if there is a revolution in India led by modern minded leaders.


  1. The caste based reservations in India are a powerful force for ensuring continuation of casteism in India. While ostensibly for benefiting dalits and other backward castes, in fact it has done great damage to them, apart from greatly damaging the nation as a whole. My reasons for saying so are as follows:


(a) It has become nothing but a vote catching gimmick


(b) It creates a false impression and illusion among dalits and others that they need not study and work hard as they will be given admissions and jobs anyway. That way it emasculates them instead of motivating them to study and work hard, and struggle in a manly manner for their uplift. But the truth is that reservations benefit only .01% of the dalits and OBCs since there are very few jobs, and unemployment is growing.


(c) Reservations intensifies and increases casteism, as it creates caste hatred. Meritorious upper caste youth get enraged when they see much less meritorious Dalits and OBCs getting admissions and jobs, which they are denied. Dalits must unite with the enlightened sections of the upper castes and OBCs in their common struggle for securing better lives, instead of fighting in isolation.


(d) Reservations divide the nation at a time when we must be united to fight against and overcome the massive problems facing the country.


So all caste based reservations should be abolished, but special help and facilities should be given to poor children of all castes and communities.


  1. Many people ask how the caste system is to be abolished? The answer is by rapid industrialisation following a historical united people’s struggle and ultimately a revolution led by secular and modern minded leaders with scientific thinking which will sweep away the filth of feudalism, including casteism, in our society.


At present the struggles are either caste based e.g. the agitations of Jats in Haryana, Gujars in Rajasthan, Patels in Gujarat, and of Dalits in many parts of the country, or religion based e.g. Ram Mandir agitation. The farmers agitation was no doubt not caste or religion based, but it had no modern minded leaders and so fizzled out.

A real united revolutionary people’s struggle on a large nationwide scale is yet to arise.

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