ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Addressing Caste Prejudice

“Oh...you will get a job, because you are an SC,” I used to hear this from my neighbours from the Other Backward Classes (OBC), Thiyya castes. Some used to treat us “lower” than them. “Oh you people get stipend, so you can study” is another sentence Dalits used to hear from anywhere in Kerala. OBC is a reserved category who also get reservation and are only just “above” the Scheduled Caste (SCs). There are so many castes “above” them. This fact they do not realise when they pass these comments about an SC student. An upper-caste Nair would never ask these sort of questions; rather they would like to know how much money an SC/Scheduled Tribe (ST) gets while doing his/her MPhil and PhD.

I did not know how to reply to these questions when I was a student. But, once, I asked a question to them in my village. How much land do you have? An OBC brother told me that he has 50 cents of land. I told him, brother, you ask the same question to me. My father has only eight cents of land. We are four children. When this eight cents of land is divided by four, how much do we get, to construct a house? “You get more; we get less.” Why is this so? I told him that this is not your problem. This is the way land was distributed though it is a free good. “It was my father’s and grandfather’s ability that we got this much land,” he immediately replied. I told him, that is what I am saying. My father and grandfather were not able to get it, but not because they were less intelligent than your grandfather. But, they need to survive the barriers which are embedded in a graded caste system. Reservation is to check and balance this historical inequality to form a good society of fraternity and impart equal opportunity to all. All these discussions and conversations occur only because many did not know the logic behind the reservation policy.

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