Tuesday, October 9

Reality Byte #1

If anyone ever asked me about how deep rooted the caste division is in our society, I’d say not much. From what I see and have seen, I’ve never really experienced or seen any discrimination because of one’s caste. I realize that of course it does exist. You hear about it in the news, read about it in the paper, and of course hear stories from others. Despite all this, for some reason I figured they were these one-off incidences. A little naïve I guess but my experiences made me think along those lines.

So I was quite taken aback when I heard a story from a fellow colleague about something he encountered. He had gone to some village in Rajasthan to shoot a video. The people there were divided between two caste lines: Rajputs and ST/SC. When he went to the primary government school there he noticed that the plates (used for lunch) in the school were etched with either ‘Rajput’ or ‘ST/SC’. This helped distinguish the plates the Rajput children would eat out of and the plates ST/SC children would eat out of. Even though all the children went to the same school, it was absolutely unacceptable that the Rajput kids eat off the same plate that the day before an ST/SC kid could’ve eaten out of! I was quite astonished to hear this.

This was a story of just one school in one village. Multiply that by the number of schools and villages in the country and you realize the number of children being taught about their superiority or inferiority over another. It is a feeling, a concept, a value ingrained in them from the day they are born. How then do you tell them when say they’re 20 that everything they’ve been taught along caste lines is wrong? How then do you get a common man to fight against an injustice they have pretty much been ingrained to accept?

~ Raina

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