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Dissolving Caste and Integrating Indian Society

Caste has been one of the most vexing problem of Indian Society in the Past,Present and so will be in the future.The atrocities perpetuated in the name of caste against the so called lower caste is unparalled in the Human history.Caste has no place in modern society,where values like Equality,Fraternity,Human Dignity,are cherished.But if we do nothing about it,it will continue and  mar the Indian society and the constitutional goals of equality and fraternity would be elusive.In this Paper,I will discuss a mechanism through which we can annihilate caste,provided everyone would adopt it sooner or latter,the sooner the better.Historically,India  was an exogamic society and some to perpetuate their hegemony has imposed endogamy on exogamic society,as you will see later in this paper.I feel if there is a mechanism for Creation of caste then there can be counter mechanism to annihilate caste.Whatever be the origins of caste,one thing is clear is that,it didn’t emerged overnight.It took years,if not generations,for the creation,so will be the counter mechanism will take years,if not generations,to annihilate the caste from Indian society.
To proceed with the subject,It is important to know the difference between the terms Jati and Caste,because many consider them as synonym and  misunderstood Jati for Caste and some well known definition of castes and  it features.
The term caste was first used by Portuguese travellers who came to India in the 16th Century.Caste comes from the Portuguese word "Casta" which means "race","breed",or "lineage".Hence,the word caste is of foreign origin and Many Indians cling on it.The most analogous for Caste in India is Jati.Jati refer to large scale endogamous descent group and Varna refers to ranked Classification of Jatis.In Hindu mythology i.e Vedas talked about four fold classification of Indian society.i.e Chaturvarna-Brahmin,Khastriya,Vaishya,and Shudras(Rig Veda,10 Mandal) but none of them talked about sub division in the Varna System.At Present in India,there are about 3000 castes and 25000 subcastes.This itself present an anomaly with the our sacred texts.It is interesting to know that there are division within each Varna and every Jati tries to claim their as Upper Varna.
Caste is one of the most unique system to Indian sub continent,I call its unique not only for its  geography,but also for its legitimacy.It legitimizes and enforces practice of discrimination against people born in subordinated castes(i.e Shudras and Untouchables).These Practice of discriminations are humiliating,exclusionary and exploitative.Moreover,it has become part and parcel of Indian Culture in general and Hindu culture in particular. It is inextricably interlinked with Indian society and can be considered as way of life, for most of the Indians.
Various definition of  Caste includes
                         According to Encyclopaedia of social sciences,”Caste is defined as “an endogamous and hereditary sub division of ethnic group occupying a position of superior or inferior rank in comparison with other such divisions”.
                         Mr. Nesfield defines a caste as "a class of the community which disowns any connection with any other class and can neither intermarry nor eat nor drink with any but persons of their own community.“
                         Dr. Ketkar defines caste as "a social group having two characteristics: (i) membership is confined to those who are born of members and includes all persons so born; (ii) the members are forbidden by an inexorable social law to marry outside the group."
The chief characteristics of Caste system in India as as mentioned by G.S.Ghurye in his book “Caste and Race in India” are:
Caste is ascriptive in nature, One is born into caste of his parents;Caste imposes strict rules on marriage.i.e endogamy; Caste keeps restriction on social interaction like on food,food sharing and social interaction;Caste also keeps restriction on Occupation.i.e occupation is hereditary in nature;Caste system is hierarchal.It involves large number of sub castes and every caste has a hierarchy of rank and status. Every person has a caste and every caste has rank in the system;Caste involves sub castes and further sub divisions.Hence,it is referred as segmental organization.
To many people in India,these features of Caste system are things of Past,because in present Indian society Dalits do not face any discrimination.Moreover,Indian constitution provides Fundamental rights like Right to equality(Article.14),Prohibition of discrimination based on Caste(Article.15),Abolition of Untouchability(Article 17) and Reservation in Educational institutions and Empolyment.Even many consider being born as Dalit is boon considering the benefits they acquire in the society.This is a very parochial understanding of Indian society,as Dalit continue to face discrimination in one way or other and are still denied of many benefits,which they supposed to get,Despite constitutional safeguards.Dalit literally means‘downtrodden’ or ‘broken’, but it is a word pregnant with meaning,reflecting the struggle of a community to reassert its identity and lay claim to the rights that were denied to them for centuries.
There is a race for bottom in India due to reservation.i.e people want to get their caste included in Scheduled caste list.A phenenomen quite opposite to Sanskrisization(M.N.Srininvas),which we can call as De-Sanskritiization.I don’t want to delve into reservation issue here,as it is a topic which need detailed analysis. However,when caste itself is annihilated,then reservation can be on economic criteria than on caste.
Despite the complexities involved in  the Origin of Caste,one thing is clear.What we consider India today was not same in the Past.It was a region with exclusive kingdoms fighting to increase their own supremacy.The size of the region increased and decreased with the power of the king.Moreover,there were conquests from outside,migration of people and intermingle of people.As a result India  has  never constitute a single race but conglomeration of different races.In such scenario,exogamy was natural feature of such society.A commonsensical understanding shows that when Britishers came to India,initially,the encouraged Britishers to marry Indian Women.Such is the case,there is no doubt same thing could also had happened in the Past.i.e Before Vedic age(1500 B.C).The Caste system that we know can be traced back to Rig Vedic Period(1500 B.C to 1000 B.C)which was primarily based on Occupation and which got institutionalized system based on Birth from Later Vedic Period(1000 B.C. to 600 B.C)
Ambedkar in his Seminal Paper “Castes in India:their Mechanism,genesis,and development writes”According to well-known ethnologists,the population of India is a mixture of Aryans,Dravidians and Mongolians and Scythians.All these stocks of people came to India from various directions and with various cultures,centuries ago,when they were in tribal state.They all in turn elbowed their entry into the country by fighting with their predecessors,and after a stomachful of it settled down as peaceful neighbours.Through constant contact and mutual intercourse they evolved a common culture that superseded their distinctive culture…..Ethnically all people are heterogeneous.It is the unity of culture that is basis of homogeneity.Taking this for granted,I venture to say that there is no country that can rival the Indian peninsula with respect to the unity of its culture.It has not only a geographic unity,but it has over and above all a deeper and a much more fundamental unity---the indubitable cultural unity that covers the land from end to end.(page:9)[1]
Further,he writes,”endogamy is foreign to the people of  India.The various Gotras of India are and have been exogamous:so are the other groups with totemic organization.It is no exaggeration to say that with the people of India exogamy is a creed and none dare infringe it,so much  so that,in spite of the endogamy of the castes within them,exogamy is strictly observed and that there are more rigorous penalties for violating exogamy than there are for violating endogamy ….with exogamy as the rule there could be no caste,for exogamy means fusion.But we have castes;consequently in the final analysis creation of castes,so far as India is concerned,means superposition of endogamy on exogamy.However,in an originally exogamous population an easy working of endogamy is a grave problem.”(page 17)[2]
Ambedkar in his Undelivered Speech to Jat-Pat Todak Mandal,”Annihilation of Caste” writes,”I am convinced that the real remedy is intermarriage.Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin,and unless this feeling of kinship,of being kindred,becomes paramount,the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens---created by caste will not vanish.Among the Hindus,intermarriage must necessarily be a factor of greater force in social life than it need be in the life of non-Hindus.where society is already well knit by others ties,marriage is an ordinary incident of life.But where society is cut asunder,marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity.The real remedy for breaking caste is intermarriage.Nothing else will serve as the solvent of caste.”(page:285)[2].Ambedkar viewed Inter-caste marriage will only annihilate caste.
However,I feel inter-caste marriage will only perpetuate caste system as often bride takes the caste of groom.This means bride steps from one caste into another,thus caste will perpetuate.
Very few People in the country know how caste system works.In reality,it is not caste,not even Jati,but Marriage circle is the epicentre of so called Caste system.Lets see this Chain in detail.Endogamy is the chief characteristic of Caste system in India and those who violate the rules are punished by expulsion usually referred as out casteing,but it can work only when the punishment is swift and certain for its violation.Neither varna nor jati has the power to enforce this rule.The power is with the smallest endogamous units called SubCastes or marriage circles.
A marriage circle contains all those families with which a given villager consider himself related(by blood marriage or whatever) and it contain ,in principle, all the families with which martial arrangements may be made by members of villager’s family.This body includes all those too closely related to acceptable as marriage partners,and all those to whom one is already related by marriage,and all those sufficiently distant related to be eligible for marriage.
Each marriage circle has its own independent leadership;each sets up,and enforces,its own rules and regulation.This marriage circle meets at member’s birth and death anniversaries,if a member deasced in family etc..When sufficient member attended the ceremony,the leadership converts gathering into a official assembly of marriage circle for the purpose of deliberating some matters of concern to the body.Further in emergency the leadership may call a special gathering of households head.Recently,an incident that took place in my village.i.e. a Boy from fisherman caste(thenugu) eloped with a girl from a scheduled caste(madiga) and got married.The headmen from fisherman caste met and imposed a 50000 rupees on the father,as a fine for marriage of  his son outside the marriage circle.His daughter-in-law never visits his home and his son comes late in the night and leaves by early morning so that no one can see him.
Why parents fear for Inter caste marriage is because of this Marriage Circle.They don’t want to get ex communicated with their community and we know that Indian society from starting is communitarian than individualistic,which is different from the west.Hence, substaintial changes are needed to dissolve the Caste.
Moreover,I observed that when an upper caste man marries a lower caste woman,normally parents would not relent,but the same is not true,for other way round.i.e Parents will not give their daughter to a lower caste man,even though they are ready to get a woman from lower caste.This is mainly because in the former case the woman will get the promotion to the  status of her Husband family and will not be a problem in the future.However,in the latter case,the woman will get demotion from Upper caste to Lower caste.she and her children will have to live their entire life being a Lower caste and parents wont agree to it.
So,to me Inter caste marriage will never end caste system because when two people from two different caste get married and if they have a baby in future.The newly born child will inherit father's caste.Recently,my friend married a girl from other caste supposed to be lower than his caste,When I ask his wife what would be the caste of their child,she said he/she would have father's caste and she won't mind about it.
Sir Charles wood in his dispatch(1854) mentioned,"India was a race of people slow to change,bound up by religious prejudices and antiquated customs".I totally agree with Charles on this,expect few, most of the Indians even the so called well educated people are bound by religious practices and dare not to break them,even they know they are supertituous.In addition,”Anything new appears to be difficult and wrong for a man who is well-settled in the old way of life for a long-time”.Hence,what I say now  may appear utopian.but,I feel this is one of the way to dissolve caste and integrate Indian society.
So,I propose when two people from two different castes gets married,their children shouldn't get either of their parents Caste.Instead they should form a new group something like "NO CASTE",which should explicitly mentioned where ever the Caste column is given either in school,college,graduation,government jobs etc.Recently,Sneha Parthibaraja, a 35-year-old lawyer from Vellore became the first woman to get an official 'no caste' certificate.
And the rules of this grouping should be 
1.When a No Caste man marries a woman of any caste they enter into "No Caste Community".
2.When a No Caste woman marries a man of any caste they enter into "No Caste Community".
3.When two No Caste people marries,then they obviously enter into "No Caste Community".
4.Even,if people from same  Caste marry each other,but don’t like Caste system can also join “No Caste Community”.This is important because if a man likes his sister in law,but don’t like caste system and wishes to inter-marry,then no need to sacrifice his love,he can marry her sister in law and can enter into no caste community so that his children won’t get his caste.
5.People from Upper Castes  who doesn't like Caste system can voluntarily join "No Caste Community".
The main advantage of this rule is that no one need to be a Lower Caste to join No caste,who ever opposes Caste system and wish to make India a Caste free society can join "No Caste Community".Moreover,It helps to remove stereotypes about No Caste community.No caste doesn’t signify only people from lower caste,but also Upper Caste willingly joining No Caste to annihilate caste from India.This makes Caste of No caste people unidentifiable.As the generations passes,no one would know about their Castes.
Apart from these rules,there shouldn’t be any additional restrictions.No caste community should be open ended.People can worship the God they like.
Since these people are contributing to National integration and facing the wrath of their parents for not following their wishes and marrying person from other caste.They need to be supported by the State.There is no need of Separate laws,schemes and Program for No Caste Community.There are enough already to protect them legally and financially,the only thing is to implemented in letter and spirit.
1.Protection of Inter-Caste marriage Couple,especially when a Uppers Caste woman marries a Lower Caste Man.for example,in Manoj-Babli Case,Manoj-Babli were brutally killed by Babli’s relatives in 2007 on orders of Khap Panchayat.Supreme Court in Baghavan Dase vs State of NCT Delhi directed all courts to treat offense of honor killing as “rarest of the rare” crime for which capital punishment can be awarded.In Latha Singh vs state of Uttar Pradesh Supreme Court directed District Administration and police to protect couple threatened for inter caste and inter-religion marriage.
2.State should give financial support to the people marry from inter caste.Already there are some schemes.but disbursement have to be quick.for example Dr. Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration through Inter-Caste Marriages which gives 2.50 lakh per legal inter-marriage.The eligible couples would receive 1.50 lakh of the incentive amount though RTGS / NEFT to the joint bank account. The balance would be kept as Fixed Deposit for three years.However,this scheme provides only for 500 such marriages in one year.It should be extended to all such marriages.
3.State should provide Quality education in the school,as it would inculcate scientific temper in students and Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste should be made part of Curriculum.This is important because as years passes,the marriage circles will be occupied by younger generations and if they are liberal,no one would be afraid to go for  inter-caste marriages.
My hopes lies in younger generations,because on one hand, as the sex ratio is declining  they find it difficult to find groom from their caste,on the other hand with co-education and inter  mingling of  castes,young people are bound to fall in love with people from different castes and in such cases exogamy is inevitable.and if enough safeguards are in place,younger generations wouldn’t mind to go for exogamy.
1.Encyclopedia of social sciences.
2.Dumont,Louis(1981):Homo Hierarchicus: The caste system and its implications,United States of America,:the university of Chicago Press.
3.Ambedkar,Bhimrao(2015):Annihilation of caste:The annotated Critical edition,India,:Navayana Publishing pvt Ltd.