There could not have been a more regressive step at this stage when India is trying to usher in its struggling populace into the global stage and is spreading its wings on its flight towards prosperity.
History will definitely judge, this as being in no small terms any different than Pakistan's Shariah Law by Nawaz Sharif. This negates all the efforts by nationalists to bring in social equality. Right from the time of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Raja Rammohan Roy to Veer Savarkar and Mahatma Gandhi, all visionaries have strove politically to eliminate this menace. Post-independence too India has had many heroes for this cause. Similarly, there have been no dearth of religious saints who have advocated social equality. But caste lurks back. Like a hydra headed monster, now we have different spectacles of castes. We have Dalit Sikhs, Dalit Christians, Christian Brahmins, etc;
There is a good piece by Swapan Dasgupta in ToI 'Face it, India is all about caste'. He refers how India had always taught its children that the British had used divide and rule and how vilified they were. Ironically, the same tactics are being used by the politicians of present day.
He mentions about Valentine Chirol who attributed Hinduisms failure to conjure up a nation to the fact that 'the vital structure of Hinduism negates everything that can constitute a nation, namely caste system.'
Caste system is so deep rooted and prioritized, that a person is first loyal to his caste, then his nation. This pulled down any nation building and invited foreigners to make merry.
Chirol stands vindicated, when after 60 years of nurturing, a supposed modern, democratic, educated society falls back on a concept whose annihilation was once predominantly the goal of a modern India.
Here we are, trying to be the next super power and then we are bringing back the divisive element to the forefront. In the race to the bottom as opposed to the Sanskritization of earlier decades, may be each caste will win and squeeze more than its deserved share, but India will lose.
The Khap panchayats demanding that honour killing cases be pardoned and Inter-Gotra marriage be disallowed by Hindu Marriage Act is just the beginning of the avalanche that this approach will bring.
Politicans being truthful to their tribe, Navin Jindal - yes the futuristic, American educated Congress MP, who fought for the common man's right to hoist the national flag on behalf of all Indians - has met the Home Minister to lobby for the Khap Panchayats. Om Prakash Chautala of 'Indian National Lok Dal' has pushed further, for a ban on Inter-Caste marriages as well!
Not surprisingly, Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt have advocated the caste-based census. They had to justify it, its the Congress which is bringing this law!!
Rajdeep Sardesai says, it is hypocritical for the people to oppose caste-based census when we have pages and pages of Caste-based matrimonial adverts. Great Rajdeep, so go ahead now justify the Khap Panchayats demand. Someone whom you were showing as the villains of 21st century until last week. You find yourself standing together with them now. Support them or call yourself a HYPOCRITE!
This is all only to include the OBC - Other Backward Class category, in the census, to know their actual numbers, so that in future we can have more and more debates, push and pulls for reservations.
Apparently, an OBC person earning less than 4 Lakh Rupees per annum is considered poor, while all General Category people are considered rich by our nation. Disaster in the making. By all means caste-based reservations for which this whole exercise is being taken up only looks to replace the elite from one supposed caste to another set of people from a different caste.
What we needed was a count on the no. of poor people, not the no. of people belonging to a particular caste.
As Swapan has concluded "Chirol was right and we may as well acknowledge it."
When we dole out incentives to the winners of the 'Race to the bottom', we are treating, a seeming to be in pitiable state as a virtue, rather than treating someone who is actually pitiable.
We might try hard to forget our caste, but the politics and reservation policy will not let us forget it.