Caste: As Big As We Make It

It is for us to learn that caste is not at all a big issue. Being born into a certain caste is not in anybody’s hands.

April 14, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -20 Apr.12- 2013 (Chitra 30, 2069)

People visiting Nepal from around the world often feel greatly touched by the friendliness, warmth and hospitality shown by us, the natives. In their blogs or write-ups, they never fail to mention this aspect and encourage other visitors. They talk about Nepal as a multiethnic, multicultural and a vibrant society. But we are caught up in the caste system, fighting because of it and expressing our hatred against each other in our own country.

Every next day different sections of leading dailies cover this one topic without fail – caste discrimination. People always point out how the leading positions, like PMs or Chief Justice, have always been held by the so-called upper castes. Similarly people from other ethnic backgrounds have always talked about how they have been sidelined; their culture, practice and society ignored and how their accents and looks have been made fun of.

Whenever I came across articles which talk about caste discrimination or caste this and that I always try to relate why it is that caste was always a major issue for hatred. What is in this entire caste thing that separated people into different tiers and turned one against other? Why should it be that we can decide who is better than whom by knowing their castes?

 Caste has since ancient times been a factor. Religion talks of it, previous generations have been implementing it and we blindly tend to follow it. Every time people are interested in knowing my surname and they decide whether to like me or not depending on their own surnames. This is a sad reality of what we see and do every day. Since childhood we are asked to foster friendship and ties within limited castes falling in the same stratum. The so-called supreme castes usually speak ill of other castes and in case of misconduct by anyone relate them to the lower castes.

This entire thing about caste, some superior and some inferior, is a blotch on humanity. Caste discrimination was implemented so as to maintain dominance by the upper and perhaps cleverer castes. This deteriorated to the worse levels like terming some as untouchables. We can see how this was always in favor of the supreme castes because they could manipulate the weaker caste as per their wishes. The supreme caste could use the weaker castes’ services and labor, cheat and deceive them, use their share of communal resources, mistreat them, and maybe even get away after killing them. The weaker caste could not even ask for justice because they could not at all speak two ways to the self declared better caste. The unprivileged were made to accept they were the lower caste and they had to submit to the upper caste. This thing is prevalent even today in the same form in many rural areas and in modified forms in the urban areas.

This is why the hatred for the upper caste. This is why we get blamed and criticized even if we achieve things with our own competence. We have been trying to enforce our superiority not by being superior but by imposing it. Now, this is unfair and unethical and worth receiving hatred. No matter how well we try to blend in with the crowd, our ‘upper caste values’ curb our flexibility of relations. And this is not our fault because we have been brought up with these thoughts. However, it is changeable. And it must be changed with time.

It is for us to learn that caste is not at all a big issue. Being born into a certain caste is not in anybody’s hands. It is just like everyone being born with faces and voices we can like/dislike or learn to live with. If there is a creator we all talk about, He made us similar extrinsically if not same. All humans are binomially classified under Homo sapiens. Interpretation of religion could have been a mistake. People who taught us all this could have been mistaken too. We should bring a change to this. Caste is only as big an issue as we make it. The people who praise us for our hospitability do not know our castes nor can they identify it by our surnames. We need to be more tolerant towards all castes- ours or others’ and stop fighting with each other with issues such trivial as these.

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