How Casteism Has Mortified A Democratic Nation — A Tale Of Bahujans And Savarnas!

I am a Savarna woman.

And, as I sit down to write this line, guilt and shame wash me up. I am a Savarna woman and I am privy to all the privileges I enjoy only because I have a certain last name. Why call it a privilege, you may ask. The answer is quite simple. It is because the other women in this country do not enjoy these prerogatives.

As a child and all through my early teenage years, I was blinded by my privileges. I belong to a well-to-do and a conventionally educated family. Caste was often not discussed and the only time it was a point of discussion was when we spoke of reservations. Reservations istunnam, mana seats and jobs istunnam, ayina edustaaru enti? They have reservations, free seats and jobs, why do these people still create a ruckus? With friends, everyone from urban backgrounds, we never tried to learn why people spoke of discrimination when everything was already handed down to them on a silver platter.

It was 2016, the first time I heard of Rohit Vemula, a Post-grad studying at Hyderabad Central University.

It was only after I read about what caste did to Rohit Vemula, I realized that the caste system in India is so deep-rooted that we often fail to notice it. It happens at our homes, at our workplaces, on the streets — we watch it but don’t acknowledge it. A minute detail like having separate utensils for housemaids is a result of casteism. This, in fact, is not seen only with people below the poverty line, but also with several Dalit leaders, who instead of breaking the ancient derogatory traditions, adapt to them and carry them on their shoulders with pride.

This, perhaps, is a regular example but the discrimination and classism that Dalits and the backward strata of our country face can never be put into this article or can never be justified. Several leaders, humanists and social-workers gave their lives away ever so willingly so that today’s generation can be free of casteism. While their efforts are commendable, the question I ask is, why should anyone lose their lives for basic human rights?

India — most people believe it to be a land of rich culture and traditions. That’s what we’ve been taught in school too. Our Preamble states that we are a secular republic. Words like equality, fraternity and patriotism are what we’ve been fed. But, the Indian culture is nothing but a mishap of lies and deceit, at least the one written in history textbooks. It is perhaps why we are so ignorant about the atrocities faced by an entire community for centuries.

On 14th September 2020, a 19-year-old Manisha Valmiki was gang-raped by four men who belonged to an upper-class Thakur community. What happened to the girl was barbarous. While the nation was still getting to terms with rape and murder of this Dalit girl, police officers of Rama Rajya, set the girl’s body on fire without the family’s consent. If this is not the death of democracy, I don’t know what is. Tongue chopped, body battered, dignity torn — don’t Dalit women deserve integrity?

Even in their death?

This is not the first time India has seen a caste-based crime, and UP has now become an epicentre for caste-based crimes against women. Often, the upper-classmen use rape and murder as an agent to put the Dalits in their place. Their voracity to commit such heinous crimes is growing only due to the malfeasance of the political leaders and police officers. But, from a state that lauds an MLA for raping a woman, what can you expect? Do you remember the Unnao-rape victim or is she forgotten just like many other Dalit women?

Who is a Dalit woman and why is she tarnished and abominated?

Belonging to the lowest of the social strata, religion, education and money, a Dalit woman does not even receive as much respect as her male counterpart does. In the mornings, she is shunned, ridiculed and untouchable, but in the darkness, she can be touched, raped and murdered. Men who choose to show their mad casteist power show it in her vagina. How else will the entire zaat remember their aukaat?

Like, I said earlier, I am a Savarna woman and as I write this down, I know that somewhere a Dalit girl is being shown her aukaat only because she belongs to a certain social stratum. I see upper-class privileged women with blue ticks on their twitter handles, talking of how this is not a caste-based crime. They ask not to bring caste here. But, have you ever heard of a Brahmin or Baniya girl being raped for merely being a Brahmin or a Baniya?

Dear Bahujan woman,

I apologize for the times I have been naïve and could not understand where you came from.

I am sorry that woke Savarna feminists very politely dismiss your struggle saying that there is no class struggle.

I am sorry that you’ve been slandered through centuries and that I failed as a woman to acknowledge that. It perhaps is my social conditioning, but I promise, you don’t have to be responsible to teach me or for that matter anyone about caste or the caste system of India.

And while there are people ready to put a sock on your voices, I hope that you and your tribe are never silenced.

I have for years enjoyed the privileges of being a Savarna and it is time you do so too for being a Bahujan and if I ever say anything which might hurt an iota of your modesty, ensure that you throw a bucket of ice water on me.

Rose are Red,

Violets are Blue,

While you smash casteism, I stand by you!

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