Monday, November 27, 2023

Book of Life - 3

I subscribed to Audiable sometime back. It didn't turn out the way I expected. Hearing a book read by someone else is totally different compared to self-reading. However, I kept the subscription and over a period, heard a few audio books. The last one I added to library was - 'Ambedkar's India'. It’s a collection of three works by B. R. Ambedkar. Yesterday, I started listening to the second work in that series, the famous speech from Ambedkar which was never delivered!!! - The annihilation of caste. 

The irony is caste was never annihilated; instead, politicians/religious leaders etc. from all spectra used it to accumulate wealth and power. There were many improvements, many states in India witnessed the formation of new social contracts between castes. However, this didn’t extend across the length and breadth of the country. In some cases, when previously downtrodden caste became the elite, they didn’t help the castes which are still below them in social order to come up. 

I am yet to finish the book. Some of my favorite lines are, 

"..who repeats the dogma of Mill that one country is not fit to rule another country, must admit that one class is not fit to rule another class..."

"..India, where the priest holds a sway over the common man often greater than that of the magistrate, and where everything, even such things as strikes and elections, so easily takes a religious turn and can so easily be given a religious twist.."

"Caste System is not merely a division of labour. It is also a division of no civilized society is division of labour accompanied by this unnatural division of labourers into watertight compartments. The Caste System is not merely a division of labourers which is quite different from division of labour—it is a hierarchy in which the divisions of labourers are graded one above the other. In no other country is the division of labour accompanied by this gradation of labourers..."

"..The ancestors of the present-day English fought on one side or the other in the Wars of the Roses and the Cromwellian War. But the descendants of those who fought on the one side do not bear any animosity—any grudge—against the descendents of those who fought on the other side. The feud is forgotten.." 

Well you know what is happening in India now!!! Descendants are fighting over things which happened centuries ago!!!

"Chaturvarnya, it seems to me that the system is neither fool-proof nor knave-proof. What is to happen if the Brahmins, Vaishyas, and Kshatriyas fail to pursue knowledge, to engage in economic enterprise, and to be efficient soldiers, which are their respective functions? Contrarywise, suppose that they discharge their functions, but flout their duty to the Shudra or to one another; what is to happen to the Shudra if the three classes refuse to support him on fair terms, or combine to keep him down? Who is to safeguard the interests of the Shudra—or for that matter, those of the Vaishya and Kshatriya—when the person who is trying to take advantage of his ignorance is the Brahmin? Who is to defend the liberty of the Shudra—and for that matter, of the Brahmin and the Vaishya—when the person who is robbing him of it is the Kshatriya?

"...although there are castes among Non-Hindus, as there are among Hindus, caste has not the same social significance for Non-Hindus as it has for Hindus. Ask a Mohammedan or a Sikh who he is. He tells you that he is a Mohammedan or a Sikh, as the case may be. He does not tell you his caste, although he has one; and you are satisfied with his answer. When he tells you that he is a Muslim, you do not proceed to ask him whether he is a Shiya or a Suni; Sheikh or Saiyad; Khatik or Pinjari. When he tells you he is a Sikh, you do not ask him whether he is Jat or Roda, Mazbi or Ramdasi. But you are not satisfied, if a person tells you that he is a Hindu. You feel bound to inquire into his caste. Why? Because so essential is caste in the case of a Hindu, that without knowing it you do not feel sure what sort of a being he is..."

Well, I am not going to quote more here. The link at the end has full text and Ambedkar’s reason on why he was not able to deliver the speech. By the way, the last paragraph reminded me of an incident which happened probably a decade ago at Baroda Railway station. I reached the station very early in the morning and had to spend some time there (to save cost, I used to travel in the night and use railway clock room to keep the luggage while visiting the city) as Palace and other tourist attractions in city will take some more time to open. 

I met a guy here. He was probably coming from Pune and going to his native town, some place bordering Delhi. He completed B.Tech from a famous government college and is now preparing for GATE exams also working for reputed Indian private company as a Chemical engineer or something. As it happened sometime back, I don’t remember all the details. Why I give this otherwise lengthy introduction is to show that he is a product of modern India. 

During the conversation, he asked my name. I told him the first name. He looked at me for some time and asked for the second name. This in fact perplexed me. Other than in government documents or to fill in some form no one ever asked my second name so far!!! I told him that too. He was confused and it looked like he wanted to clarify something but didn’t ask anything. To this day, I am not sure why he asked. My guess is, he may want to find out which caste I belong to. Anyway, my second name is not useful for that purpose. 


You can read Annihilation of Caste here -> Full Text

No comments:

Post a Comment