'Caste is a weapon to get ahead'

Vox Pop

Roshan V K, IT professional

“The interpretation of caste differs from one state to another. Caste is directly proportional to money. If one is financially well off, then caste doesn’t matter but for those who aren’t, caste assumes prominence. It even begins to dictate terms. Educational institutions too are victims of this problem. Caste influences are different in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.”

Rishi Shroff, Law student

“The Constitution mandates no discrimination on the basis of caste. Thanks to the growing competition and difficulty in getting admission to quality educational institutions, people are beginning to rely on factors such as caste to create a divide and sometimes gain an upper hand. There is no harm in being a member of a particular caste and utilising benefits that the legislature may give to the caste to which you belong. The problem, however, arises when this is used as a political weapon to spread disharmony in society. I think India has far more serious issues to worry about than caste issues.” 

Anju I,Agriculturist

“We are such a conservative society that it’s hard to wish away the presence of caste in every sphere of life. It’s not so pronounced in multinational companies but the issue of caste is prominent among the Christian and Hindu schools in the City. There’s also a huge disparity in fee structure in these schools. If our future generation is also taught to accept and base everything on caste, then you can imagine what kind of example we are setting for posterity.” 

Shubha Chacko, Social researcher

“Caste plays a decisive role in urban spaces in deciding our social network and thereby opening or not opening doors for us. Today, even merit is judged on the basis of caste. The deserving don’t get access to good education and great jobs only because of the caste system. As long as the dominant caste are doing the defining of ‘merit’, the oppressed caste will be kept out.” 

Anzi Mukundan, IT professional

“Most entrance tests to professional courses have reservations that are caste-based. So those who don’t belong to that particular caste and still do well don’t stand a chance to get to the top. This is unfair. We don’t see casteism so much in private firms but it is open in government offices. We can’t wish away caste and it plays a major role even in politics. I hope generations to come do their bit to get over the obsession of caste.”  

Manoj Thelakkat, CEO of a recruitment firm

“I am against the caste system. This is one factor that is hampering progress. We have had people from a so-called lower caste who have held high offices through sheer hard work and perseverance. The meritorious don’t stand a chance just because someone with a reservation has gone ahead. That’s sad. Caste is only used as a weapon for getting reservations in education and jobs. The media is also largely responsible for contributing to the problem.”
 

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