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Caste conflict myth & reality

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  • 1. Caste Conflict: the Myth and Realities Mihir Bholey, PhD Associate Senior Faculty Interdisciplinary Design Studies National Institute of Design Ahmedabad
  • 2. Caste and Politics: the Nexus“Politics is a competitive enterprise, its purpose isacquisition of power for the realization of certaingoals, and its process is one of identifying andmanipulating existing and emerging allegiances in orderto mobilize and consolidate positions. The importantthing is organization and articulation of support, andwhere politics is mass-based the point is to articulatesupport through organizations in which the masses areto be found”. (Kothari, Politics in India. 1977: 59) Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 2
  • 3. The Outline• Caste – reflects evolution of our social process• Has its own system of hierarchy, discrimination and ascribed status to name a few• There is a system and design clash – system of caste and the design of democracy- justice, liberty, equality and fraternity• Hence, the conflict: social, economic and political• Sanskritization, urbanization and now globalization have influenced caste socially-politically and economically• The conflict for socio-cultural assimilation and political space is now turning into conflict of economic interest under market economy Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 3
  • 4. Social Factors Political Factors CasteConflict Economic Factors Historical Factors Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 4
  • 5. Lack of Equal Opportunity Lack of Social JusticeSocialFactors Feudal Social Structure Oppression by the Dominant Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 5
  • 6. Unequal Share in PowerAssertionfor Equal Political Exploitation of Various Rights Factors Kind Growing Political Awareness Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 6
  • 7. Unequal Distribution of WealthFight for Share in Economic Skewed ProportionEconomic of Have andWellbeing Factors Have-Nots Lack of Alternative Sources of Earning Livelihood Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 7
  • 8. Ethnic difference Racial DifferenceHistoricalFactors Concept of Purity and Pollution Brahmanical Hegemony Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 8
  • 9. Some Faces of Caste Conflict: Identity and Political Space Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 9
  • 10. Assertion for Dalit Unity Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 10
  • 11. Caste Conflict and the Cult of Violence Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 11
  • 12. Caste Conflict and Social Justice• The Preamble accords Justice – social, economic and political topmost priority, makes attainment of social justice one of the main objectives• Social justice is the recognition of greater good to larger number without deprivation or accrual of anybody‟s legal rights – Supreme Court• Means to remove social imbalance by law and harmonize rival claims or interests of different sections of the society – Supreme Court• Social justice in Bihar and in other states too became polarization of castes for political gains – social engineering invented• Causing inter and intra-caste conflict Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 12
  • 13. • Constant political intervention into a social system has politicized caste – 62.9% respondents felt „caste is a vote bank‟• Caste consciousness today is not only about one‟s caste status in the hierarchy but about how caste or caste associations can be put to use• Ensuring affirmative action through reservation is the best example - 52.1% respondents among all caste categories felt the policy of reservation can be modified and can be extended on economic basis, 20.8% also felt creamy layer can be removed• NSSO estimates OBC population 40.94%, SC – 15.9%, ST – 8.63 and Others – 30.80% (2004-05)• Youth population in India is estimated to be 333 million (33.3 crore) – are there enough jobs / opportunities for all? Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 13
  • 14. The Changing Equations of Caste• Disappearance of caste is not the question - question is how caste and politics are interacting and influencing each other• Demographic structure though tilted towards Upper Castes on socio- economic counts, but indices are changing• Considerable rise in OBC participation and share in power since mid 1970s – competing marginalized SCs for the affirmative action – causing conflict• OBC – a state classification has overwhelmed the issue of acute marginalization and discrimination of the SCs• On the economic front also they are not far behind – if 34.1% Upper Castes earn 45.4% of income in the country, 41.1% OBCs earn 37.7% and 16.8% SCs earn 11.8%• Their respective surplus income is – UCs 53%, OBCs 33.7% and SCs 8.3% Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 14
  • 15. Caste Under Market Economy• Market economy is impacting the economic status of castes and changing their traditional status in social hierarchy• Economic status of the marginalized castes depends on the economic priority and performance of the state – SCs and STs of Gujarat are better off compared to their counterparts in Orissa• At the micro-level economic status of castes is not the same in every state – much depends on state‟s own economic priority and performance• Economically better off Karnataka is India‟s best state in terms of Upper caste, OBCs and ST household as compared to politically assertive Bihar• Economic and educational opportunity under market economy matter more than caste identity – economic status matters more than caste status Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 15
  • 16. Popular Myths vs. Emerging Realities The Myth The Reality • Caste is dynamic and divergent• Caste is static and monolithic • Caste is about dominance• Caste is for solidarity • Caste is the agent of• Caste is resistant to change change• Caste conflict and social • Social Justice not justice can go together attainable without social harmony• Caste conflict is assertion of identity and status • Now it‟s essentially about economic interest Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 16
  • 17. Concludingly• Caste, class and power (Beteille, 1971) equations are constantly changing in society• Change depends on the socio-economic and political dynamics and priorities• Higher caste status doesn’t always mean strong economic and political status• Market economy has broken the jajmani system – made class more conspicuous than caste - changed the social dynamics• Therefore, social justice of affirmative action should consider the changing status of castes (socio-economic-political) rather than sticking to the status-quo of castes Mihir Bholey - Caste Conflict 17