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Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in a Surname?

I read a book review of 'The Indians' By Sudhir Kakar & Katharina Kakar in the blog of my freind Abdusalaam al-Hindi. I will quote a paragraph of the book as it shows about Indians particularly deep rooted in Hindus.

The inner experience of caste : The preoccupation of the caste system with high and low has been associated with suffering and humiliation for several millions through the centuries. As the Marathi poet Govindraj puts it, Hindu society is made up of men 'who bow their heads to the kicks from above and who simultaneously give a kick below, never thinking to resist the one or refrain from the other.' The hierarchy is so fine tuned that even a low caste will always find another caste that is inferior to it, thus mitigating some of the narcissistic injury suffered by it at being seen as inferior. Thus for instance, 'among those lowest scavenging sections which remove night soil there is still a distinction: those who serve in private houses consider themselves higher than those who clean public latrines.' [pp 27, 28]

Few trends happening in our society are shocking and need immediate attention : Khap Panchayat rulings and rape cases against lower caste women. These are two sensitive news stories traced by me on these issue.

Doomed by Caste Damned by Gender: Rape continues to be a weapon of oppression against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh, despite the state having a Chief Minister who is herself a woman and a Dalit. Tracked by Shobhita Naithani of Tehelka.

A Taliban Of Our Very Own: Murder, rape and exile are routine punishments for these parallel Parliaments. Neha Dixit of Tehelka tracks Khap panchayats across north India and covers this burning issue.

There is the bulk of crime happening in the name of honour and caste. Even if the coverage amounts to drive-by journalism generates a ton of anecdote and graphic details about individual case but not a pinch of leavening context to help frame and explain crime and mentality behind it. Let me quote of Dr. Ambedkar in this scenario:

“It is usual to hear all those who feel moved by the deplorable condition of the Untouchables unburden themselves by uttering the cry “We must do something for the Untouchables”. One seldom hears any of the persons interested in the problem saying ‘Let us do something to change the Touchable Hindu.’ ”

When the elite practices social and castiest discrimination in the daily lives, the social order below will follow that only. Bottom up civil consciousness on caste or gender discrimination is absent in our country. Our society is clashing with the struggle between doing the right thing and doing the honorable thing. There should be absolutely no place for traditions that deny another human being dignity.

Mistakes are understandable in this fight. Surrendering isn’t. Whether who will prevail is another matter, there is a limit beyond which law cannot be further broken and conscience further outraged. I have asked a question in the title of the post: What's in a Surname? Its answer is : In A Casteist Society, Everything !


  1. When the census officer comes asking me what my caste is, I'm just going to say "Indian."

    I had made a video post about this issue:

  2. Doing the honourable thing is important, it is when people mistake reputation for honour that we end up in the mess we are in...communities united by prejudice and hatred.

  3. @ Addicted to F1, here honour is taken as repeutation only. People start hating each other and forget love is greater than any of the emotions that joins individuals. You are bang on target that communities united by prejudice and hatred.

    @Bhagwad, Be an Indian is not even necessary for free mind. Becoming a world citizen surpassing each boundaries should be the target of ourselves.



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