India is the country of mysteries to the world outside, just like Africa. There are so many myths surrounding it that are believed to be true in the world outside that often those who know this country without being a part of it get confused.
Some of them are this country is filled with Sadhu (Indian sages in saffron) and snakes and tigers. Well, I have never seen a wild tiger and there are lot of people in India who has not seen a wild snake. It’s a very rare occasion when we come across a Sadhu unless we live in some place with religious importance like Haridwar or Kashi.
I still remember reading and gnashing my teeth as a teenager Miss Marple telling a client of hers that Indian wives keep their husbands under control by feeding them opium! Oh boy! If I could get my hands on Ms. Christie back then!
Another wide spread myth and an unsavory one is blaming every atrocity on caste system or religious intolerance.
Let me share a little about Caste system today and next week- Caste system is almost as old as Hinduism- it divides the society in four castes- Brahmin (the group that works as middlemen between God and rest), the kshatriya/kayastha (the ruling group or warriors), the Vaishyas (business group) and Shudras (the menial labour group)- now when this system began it was really lenient. There was no hard and fast rule like its being forced upon through birth or changing one’s group- there are multiple examples of people being born of a Brahmin parent and becoming rulers, or other.
With time it became really vicious and ugly but things changed quite a bit after 1947, when India became a republic.
It became illegal to differentiate between two persons on the basis of their caste (I believe only marriages were above this rule).
Government bestowed envious amount of leniency and quotas to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes (the new names given to Shudras to stop treating them as pariahs). That in turn was not very welcome to quite a lot of the people.
Now, the truth is majority of Indians are poor and economically unstable- and it does not have anything to do with caste. So they were quite ticked off when government allotted quotas to SC and STs on every field- education, government services etc, and that quota was quite huge- say for example a government job where the age limit of normal candidates is 30, for the SC and ST is 40 or more. The qualification may be graduate for normal candidates and higher secondary for SC/ST. You can understand the reaction of deprived ones and that was egged on by politicians, some aiming SC/ST for their votes and some aiming others. It resulted in suicide of hundreds of young men and women of so called higher castes.
But these quotas kept increasing, because politicians in India want their votes. They don’t give a hoot to us, the insects of this country after voting season. One dead ten will replace that dead.
—— REST IN NEXT WEEK…….