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  Life   More Features  10 Sep 2017  A casteist reality check

A casteist reality check

Published : Sep 10, 2017, 12:14 am IST
Updated : Sep 10, 2017, 12:14 am IST

The constitution says that untouchability is abolished and this is a blatant disregard of that fact: Alok Prasanna Kumar

Picture for representational purposes only. (Photo: Rajesh Jadhav)
 Picture for representational purposes only. (Photo: Rajesh Jadhav)

When Pune-based scientist Medha Khole filed a case against her cook for allegedly lying about her caste and posing as a Brahmin, she caused a storm of criticism to kick up against her. A member of the meteorological department, Medha lodged a complaint against her maid, Nirmala Yadav, whom she had hired a year ago to cook at religious occasions for her family. Having found out that the latter was lying about her caste, she complained to the police about how Nirmala cheated her and also lodged an assault complaint against her. Nirmala too, has filed a case against her former employer for assaulting her and beating her with her handbag.

What the ugly spat has done is throw light on how prevalent the caste system still is in the country, despite the many years that have gone since the Civil Rights Act of 1955 were coined. “Article 17 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that you cannot fire an employee for his or her caste. This not only applies to Dalits but to people of all castes. So, essentially, in filing such a complaint, it is Medha who is committing a crime,” says advocate and columnist Alok Prasanna Kumar, adding, “The Constitution says that untouchability is abolished and this is a blatant disregard of that fact.”

Alok adds, “The fact that the Pune police even accepted this complaint is shocking and goes to show you how casteist the system is, when a higher caste person can bully the authorities into taking their side.”

Writer and columnist Anil Dharker, is shocked that someone from the field of science could have committed such an act. “You expect scientists to be more rational and disregard such antiquated ideals. The fact that Medha even felt that there was any ground for complaint to the authorities is appalling because it shows how firm her belief is. However, this is not the first time that I have heard of scientists being a part of the regressive culture,” he rues.

“I also once heard of a scientist who had his Dalit colleague over for tea and then later purified the entire tea set and living room. It just goes to show you how deeply entrenched our caste system really is,” he adds, shaking his head.

Host of the TV crime show Savdhaan India, Sushant Singh is equally appalled. “It just holds up a mirror to society. If we go beyond the metros, we will see that the caste system is very much prevalent. It is only because it is not shoved at our faces all the time that we don’t think about it. And the fact that such a person is working as a scientist is ironic to say the least. We complain about how racist people are against Indians; what is this but a similar case of discrimination amongst ourselves,” he asks scathingly.

Alok, however, doesn’t think that profession or education has anything to do with it. “Being a scientist or what degree you have has very little to do with a person’s caste tolerance. Colleges and universities often reinforce a sense of caste superiority instead of doing away with taboos. Being educated is no guarantee that you don’t fervently believe in caste discrimination. Science has nothing to do with it,” he deduces.

Tags: dalits, crime, discrimination, medha khole