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India has always mishandled the caste issue

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Fayaz Ganie
Fayaz Ganie
Passionate Writer, Author and an aspiring system builder.

Injustice cannot and should not be the cure for injustice. If injustice is committed against a person or people better always is to provide justice to that person and people. It is illogical to commit injustice against other person and people in order to provide respite to those against who injustice is committed; it is again injustice which is never the solution.

If at all it can be a solution, it should always be against those who commit injustice in the first instance; injustice against them can be a form of punitive action but never against those who are not involved in the act of committing injustice. Caste issue in India is such an issue where the Indian government has always acted that way and resorted to injustice to cure injustice.

The people belonging to different castes have been subjected to various types of discrimination, atrocities, and injustice since ages and these crimes against these people continue even today in one or the other form. Their tale is one of pain, tragedy and tribulations and their story about inhuman treatment that they have been subjected to and is meted to them in the current times in many instances. All the facilities, privileges and entitlements that were made available to the people belonging to the higher castes have always been denied to the lower castes.

Time was opportune when India got freedom to take up the caste issue and devise a policy which could prove a real panacea to this age old problem. The policy should have been the one which could have cured the malady instead of managing it. The latter, that is managing the problem, is the policy of the Indian government and the governments at the state level. No comprehensive policy was devised and adopted at the time of Independence and as such the progress achieved in caste issue is not as per the expectations, it is not very encouraging.

My ancestor committed injustice against yours, how am I to be blamed for that? How can punishing me provide justice to you or your ancestor? One is unable to see it happening. Better is to start acting justly with you as well as with me so that injustice is eliminated from the country, and the world. By committing injustice against me perpetuates the cycle of injustice. Yesterday you were the victim, today I am made the one and tomorrow it might again be you. This is a completely wrong approach to deal with the problem which the Government of India has implemented in respect of the caste issue from the very first day.

The policy of reservation and affirmative action works on that principle of the discrimination of one to provide benefits to the others. A person belonging to lower castes is preferred over those who do not belong to the scheduled castes and tribes. The eligibility conditions and criteria are relaxed for these castes to get power, jobs, opportunities, admissions and promotions which they in all probability might not have got in case they belonged to the general category.

This policy was initiated and initiated mainly to keep the electoral dynamics of the country in consideration and today as well that is the sole criterion which prevents the governments from abandoning this discriminatory policy and devising a more workable one to achieve the real objectives of the country and the people belonging to the caste people and other downtrodden. For this the electoral gains or losses should not have been the first preference and today as well the preference should be the interests of these poor people and not the electoral benefits.

In case the policy of reservation was absolutely necessary it should have not be provided and extended beyond one or two decades after the independence. The government should have made conditions same for the people belonging to lower castes, in schools, colleges and other professional and technical institutions of learning without there being reservation. Greater emphasis should have been laid on opening and establishing these institutions in the areas where the poor and people belonging to the discriminated portion of the population are in greater number.

Instead the government considered its duty done once the policy of reservation was devised and implemented. The government even did not bother to see that whether the policy is properly implemented or not, which it was never implemented that way. Majority of the people for which the policy was primarily devised were left out or were left in such conditions to render them unable to get any benefits or preferential treatment. Such people continue to remain in that pathetic condition in which they were ages ago.

What the policy of affirmative action did, and is continuously doing, is it made the ground fertile for the politicians and public authorities to exploit the issue of castes. The policy today has become an effective tool in the hands of the politicians to exploit the feelings and emotions of the poor and caste people for the electoral gains. It seems the policy originally was formulated in such a way to keep the benefits of it accruing not to people concerned but to the power elites of the country.

Every time these elites feel their power threatened, or want to gain more power, rake up an issue about the castes. Or, new and big promises are made with these people and here again the prime consideration is to exploit the caste issue. Especially during the elections, and before, all tactics, plots and conspiracies are hatched to get votes from the castes. And, not a single party desists from plotting and conspiring that way.

Indeed there is a section of people belonging to the scheduled castes, tribes and other backward classes whose upliftment has been affected by the affirmative action but these is a greater chunk of those who have not benefited at all. It is the former section of people who get the benefits out of reservation again and again and there are those who are craving to get those benefits for the first time. But the conditions are such that it is not expected that they could get any benefits for the long time to come.

In providing benefits to the selected sections of the caste people the government is committing injustice against lot more. Imagine two students studying in the same educational intuition, on caste and other of the general category, one getting preferential treatment and the other not getting any such privilege and one denied a seat even after getting higher score than the other and other getting the seat even after scoring less than many of the students belonging to the general category. Is that not injustice in a democratic set up. For politics and political gains this discrimination and this injustice is allowed by the people who are duty bound to end all the injustice in the country.

Thus far, we can say that the caste issue has been mishandled by the successive governments in India. It has been allowed to run in a direction where the power elites of the country could get their interests served without showing much concern about whether the deserving are getting what is due to them.

Now is the time for India to show maturity of the democracy and stop exploiting lower castes and stop committing injustice against the people who are outside these castes. More effective policies should be devised to universally cover all the caste and poor people of the country and a foolproof mechanism ought to be devised to end discrimination against the general category people. Justice is about justice for all and it is not about committing injustice against those whose ancestors have committed a wrong.

Somewhere the exploitation of the caste issue by the power hungry politicians should stop. Somewhere governments need to work to deal with the root of the problem. The way the campaigning of the assembly elections goes and the preparation for next year general elections go, caste issue is there to stay, may be in more ugly for which is not an encouraging development.

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Fayaz Ganie
Fayaz Ganie
Passionate Writer, Author and an aspiring system builder.
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