CASTE AND POLITICS

Caste and politics have both positive and negative aspects.

 

CASTE INEQUALITIES

  • In most societies, occupations are passed on from one generation to another.
  • A caste system is an extreme form of this. What makes it different from other societies is that this system, of hereditary occupational divisions, was sanctioned by ritual.
  • Members of the same caste groups were supposed to form a social community that practiced the same or similar occupation, married with the caste group, and did not eat with members from other caste groups.
  • The caste system was based on the exclusion of and discrimination against the ‘outcast’ groups.
  • With the economic development, large-scale urbanization, growth of literacy and education, occupational mobility, and the weakening of the position of landlords in the village, the old notions of Caste hierarchy are breaking down.
  • The constitution of India prohibits caste-based discrimination and laid foundations of policies to reverse the injustice of the caste system.

CASTE IN POLITICS

  • Casteism is rooted in the belief that caste is the sole basis of a social community.
  • Caste can take various forms in politics:
    1. When parties choose candidates or when the government is formed political parties usually take care that r epresentatives of different castes and tribes find a place in it.
    2. Political parties and candidates in elections appeal to caste sentiment to muster support.
    3. Universal adult franchise and the principle of one person one vote compelled political leaders to gear up for the task of mobilizing and securing political support.
    4. Political parties have made people belonging to lower castes conscious about their rights to vote and their powers.
  • While caste matters in electoral politics, so do many other factors.
  • People’s assessment of the performance of the government and the popularity rating of the leaders matter and are often decisive in elections.

POLITICS IN CASTE

  • Politics also influence the caste system and caste identities by bringing them into the political arena.
  • Thus it is not politics that caste gets caste-ridden, it is the caste that gets politicized.

This takes several forms:

  1. Each caste group tries to become bigger by incorporating within it neighboring caste or sub-castes which were earlier excluded from it.
  2. Various caste groups are r equired to enter into a coalition with other castes or communities and thus enter into a dialogue and negotiation.
  3. New kinds of caste groups have come up in the political arena like ‘backward’ and ‘forward’ caste groups.
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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.