Sunday, April 17, 2011

Increasing caste divide in rural India

Increasing caste divide in rural India: "

They used to say that even when you die your caste doesn’t leave you. This is literally true in today’s UP villages. I happened to visit my ancestral place, a very small village in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh last week. To my astonishment division among caste lines has become more and more stark.

As we all know that in today’s India all the political power, government jobs and many such other government entitlement are on the basis on caste only. With the advancement of literacy, every section (read caste) has become more aware of their strengths and numbers (numbers and money are biggest strength in a democracy). This has resulted in outrageous tussle in every village. Panchayat elections have become ground to showcase the strength of one’s caste. The sociologist in me can not resist from analyzing the dynamics of movement of caste groups in power hierarchy.

In UP, at-least in villages, upper castes have almost ceded their claim to power entirely. They are now content with siding with one or other dominant caste group of area. In a few villages, upper castes still hold the power due to their traditional economic power and land holdings, otherwise they are happy to go with the caste which is ready to provide a token of respect to them, without any want of power (may be grapes have become too sour for them). The main contenders for power in most villages are, on one hand some OBC group (Yadavs, Kurmis, even muslims in some areas) and SCs on other hand. With the advent of Mayawati SCs currently have upper hand in most cases. Every village is a battlefield today and society is in complete disarray. There is naked showcasing of political power even in small cases. I even listened that a DM got transfered just because he didn’t do enough to enable local SCs to grab a government land illegally.

Well, all stories are biased in one way or other, but I can be very objective in stating that social order is lost, villages are no more a community in itself. Panchayati raj and reservation has increased the intensity of caste divide in rural India to a deadly extent. And no magic is hoped to bridge this divide by anyone anytime soon.