Mention of caste name cannot be an offense against Schedule Castes

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa is in a quagmire because of Minister Dr. Damodar Raut’s passing mention of certain caste names comprising the schedule castes. Complaining against mention of them in their caste name, a lower court of criminal jurisprudence has been moved to punish Dr. Raut. The Orissa High Court has intervened by being moved by Dr. Raut in the matter; and the matter is subjudice. He has entered into a fresh controversy over mention of the name of Kandara caste in a simile like “Kahin Ramachandra Kahin Ramia Kandara!” (Where is Lord Ramachandra and where is Ramia Kandara!) in his oratorical flow in a public meeting.

Sans any prejudice either to the case pending since 2010 or to the new controversy mentioned above, it must be said that singling out Dr. Raut by a section of politicians belonging to the schedule castes, is suggestive of a design that has no relevance to social dignity the SC people crave for.

Had the castigators of Dr. Raut for his use of schedule caste names any genuine concern for their dignity, Manmohan Singh Government must not have been allowed to enforce a caste-based census in India. None of the castigators of Dr. Raut has ever opposed the perpetuation of caste identity through the census. In perpetuation of caste identity, the schedule caste people shall be known and be called by their caste names for ever. In Indian social strata, people belonging to schedule castes are the people that have been disdainfully looked upon, ever since Buddhism has lost to Brahminism. A votary of Brahminism, Pranab Mukherjee, had strongly propounded the caste-centric census. But all the schedule caste members belonging and having allegiance to the Congress party supported Mukherjee for the post of the President. The chairman of the National Commission for Schedule Castes, P. L. Punia was also one of them. If instead of being known as Indians, the schedule caste people stood with the design that would perpetually identify them as members of the schedule castes, why Dr. Raut should be castigated for naming some of them by their schedule caste name?

Contemptuous use of schedule caste names? Is it the problem with schedule caste people of Orissa?

The national Sahitya Award 2011 has established that contextual use of Orissa’s schedule caste name, howsoever derogatory that be, is not contemptuous to schedule caste people. Let me cite some instances from the book that has been rewarded with Sahitya Award 2011.

In English it roughly is: It can never be countenanced that a Brahmin child shall pursue studies by sitting with Kandara caste children.

In English, it means that a Keuta caste person is a born idiot having no intelligence at all to understand the difference between good and bad.

It means, will you enter into the abode of the mother after having touched the Pana and Kandara caste persons in the State?

“Shala, are you a Brahmin or a Hadi?”

Here the Kandara caste people are termed as scavangers.

When I objected to selection of such a book bearing such contemptuous description of schedule Caste people, the Kanak TV had organized a panel discussion on justification of the national Sahitya award to such a book. A top leader of the schedule caste people of Orissa Sri Haladhar Sethi had joined me in the panel and was visibly shocked to know of how derogatorily the schedule caste people are referred to in the book. Did any of the schedule caste people objected to the national award for the book? No. Because, to their wisdom, calling a Kandara a Kandara contextually, is not contemptuous to schedule caste people in Orissa. What offense, then, Dr. Raut has committed by contextually uttering the caste name of a Kandara? Why so much of social time should be lost on it?

As we witness in Orissa, there is a mad rush amongst people of the schedule castes to be known and recognized and to be identified by their caste name. Even schedule cast people are rushing into courts of law in opposition to inclusion of a non-SC person in any of their caste. Why should, then, any cognizance be taken if someone calls a SC person in his caste name?

The issue needs deep cogitation.

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  1. 95% population is trying to get certificate of OBC/SC/ST caste and repeated agitations by Gujars have occurred for ST quota. For quota, it is pride, otherwise abuse.

    Similarly, a system of Namaka-harami Jagir was started by Akbar and continued by British. In 1981, at least 18 persons of ex-ruling families brought their Namaka-harami jagir for seeking special audience with Prince Charles on tour to Orissa.

    Recently, Bal Thakare has quoted family history by his father that his family also got Namaka-harami jagir from Akbar. When this most offending word can be pride, what is wrong in simple mention of caste name.

    Real offense is use of fake caste certificates for govt jobs, many officers of IAS/IPS were screened but no action was ever taken. Some instances are given on Website- Orissa’s Fake Ana Hazare.

  2. it’s all dirty politics to gain cheap popularity. if selfish people identify themselves for benefits from quota and promotion, there is no harm in identifying them in the name they are known as SCs.

  3. There is a reason why the N-word is racist even if black people deserve special benefits simply because of their race. In fact, it is necessary that special economic benefits in the form of reservations be kept in place – alongside – ensuring that exceptionally superior social respects are accorded to the historically oppressed people worldwide – even if it means the “poor” upper caste folks are subjected to sufferings and sacrifices for the crimes of their ancestors. Instead, what has been prevailing is a shame that upper cast folks in India soaked in racist privileges continue to deliberately misconstrue the rationale behind “reservation”, to begin with.

    Simply because the scheduled caste sections of society deserve reservations – which they still have not adequately been ensured of in the repulsive hindu society of India which continues to practice honor killings and leaving their shoes to be repaired by and shits to be picked up by the untouchables – does not mean they must also be subjected to continued insults by the same groups of landowners that once colonized them directly and continue doing that today through indirect means.

    Upper caste racists of India can thank their “stars” and variety of their hindu sexist gods that those they have directly and indirectly oppressed over the ages are still merely trying to knock the doors of their masters’ judiciary systems.

    Reservation policies should not be mistaken for charities. It is just a compromise ground between reparation and revolution set in place by the hindu casteists to save themselves from violence takeovers.

    And it doesnt matter if Sahitya Akademi or Pranab Mukherjee or even some Uncle Toms from within the oppressed sections find no problem in insulting the caste-oppressed. India’s long history of freedom struggle had thousands of uncle toms who aided the British rule voluntarily but that did not invalidate the need for revolutions against the British, and likewise a few caste-opportunists cannot invalidate the growing need for strictures against brahmins/neo-brahmins and the need for enforced reservation policies to especially benefit the SC/STs of India, not to mention the need to expose the variety of gods like Rama for just what they were in the texts and in practice – at best sexist pigs and at worst racist warriors.

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