Caste as a tool for political mobilisation

Jagdeep S. Chhokar’s article, “The caste cauldron” (July 14), needs to be examined in greater detail. I would like to confine myself to three points. First, caste has always been playing the role of a political institution in India since time immemorial. The Dvij castes (upper castes) have been ruling over non-Dvijas (lower castes) since centuries.

Religiously and socially, the lower castes have remained at the receiving end and politically subjugated. After Independence, they have started asserting themselves politically and have succeeded. Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr Sharad Yadav, Mr Nitish Kumar, the late Kanshi Ram and now Ms Mayawati boast of solid vote banks of their respective castes.

However, it is wrong to believe that non-BCs, the OBCs and non-SC voters have not politically extended support to them. In a democracy, a complete grouping of castes is neither possible nor be functional. Given the sociology of caste in our society, the caste will continue to play its role in political, religious and social spheres unless it is broken. Here lies the difference.

Though leaders like Ambedkar, Lohia and Gandhi espoused the cause of downtrodden castes to move upward, they were all for total eradication of the caste system. The present lot of leaders has no such lofty ideals and they are indeed perpetuating the caste system.


Secondly, reservation for the SC/STs has proved to be an effective way to fight the deep-rooted prejudices against them after Independence. Some Dalits are still being discriminated against. The quota policy for them is a result of political assertion. But there are constitutional provisions too for reservation.

And thirdly, to stem the rot, according to the writer, one has to fight against the very roots of the caste system. Caste perpetuation might help higher and backward castes but not the SCs and the OBCs. Therefore, they must follow an agenda to eradicate castes. The Dalits being outcastes will remain as such as long as the caste system lives.

G.S BAL, Jalandhar


The writer has rightly observed that caste as a tool for political mobilisation is now threatening the country’s socio-economic fabric. Scramble for SC/ST/OBC status continues unabated even after 60 years of Independence. In the name of social justice, political parties keep the caste cauldron boiling to garner maximum votes at each election. The policy of appeasing one caste or community at the cost of others has cost the nation dearly.

It is time we gave up the divisive policy of reservation and provided equal opportunity to all citizens. Let merit be the sole criterion in a country that claims to be modern and progressive.



The reservation for the SC/STs after independence for a period of 10 years was a right step. But quotas in perpetuity hit the interests of other castes. The lot of some SC/STs has not only improved but surpassed the so-called upper castes. Reservation in itself is an antithesis of democracy in which every citizen has equal rights.

Even the Blacks (Negroes) of America, the catalysts of converting the barren continent into a modern paradise, on emancipation from slavery, did not claim or get reservation.

A nation aspiring for the world power status must give preference to merit and distinction over birth and caste. There is need for a thorough review of the policy on reservation, possibly through a referendum.

S.S. BENIWAL, Chandigarh

Bad governance

All thinking Indians will share Inder Malhotra’s view that “governance in India has gone to the dogs.” In fact, most of India’s ills are the symptoms of administrative bankruptcy.

The tragedy is that nobody is making an effort to correct the situation. The politicians have amassed wealth and bright future for their dependents and they are happy. The bureaucrats have their progeny in the right place and they are happy.

Even the people have repeatedly voted the believed-to-be-corrupt to power. So, finally even the electorate has endorsed corruption and tyranny.

Dr L.R. SHARMA, Solan


Criterion for B.Ed admission

Admission to B.Ed course, available in Punjab’s Colleges of Education is solely based on a three-hour, one-time, objective-type test in general awareness, teaching potential, mental ability, teaching aptitude and language proficiency.

However, no weightage is given to the candidates’ academic performance in BA/MA examinations which are much more reliable and valid than hurriedly and arbitrarily prepared admission test. As a result, academically superior graduates and postgraduates get ignored and the entire confidence is reposed in the admission test whose discriminating value or predictive validity has never been measured.

Chance plays very little role in BA/MA examinations because the score is based on aggregate marks in 6-7 question papers in 3-4 subjects of specialised study. As a single examination is not standardised, adequate weightage should be given to marks scored in BA/MA examination so that the criterion for B.Ed admission has a wider base.

Dr T. R. SHARMA, Patiala

Stimulating piece

A.J. Philip’s middle, “Madan the Mutineer” (June 30) is really stimulating as it revived the memories of 1946 when on February 18, the great mutiny of RIN took place. Unlike earlier small and unrecorded mutinees, this one spread to 24 ships like a flagrant fire and it enveloped the Karachi sea port (now in Pakistan) too. Earlier there were mutinees in the Air Force and Army camps and some on the western and eastern fronts of the World War II.

When the Naval ratings took to the streets of Bombay, it created a real commotion among the leaders who had earlier used to exhort soldiers to rise against the British now suddenly developed second thoughts. Sardar Patel urged the Centre to crush the rebellion with a strong hand. However, Nehru, Jinnah and Patel promised the mutineers that they will be treated leniently as they also realised by then the futility of politicising the armed forces.

C-in C General Auchenleck regretted that a fine Army was politicised for narrow ends by politicians. Nonetheless, as the writer said, Madan told him that he was suddenly thrown on the street. Sadly, the politicians, by accepting the division of the country, made our soldiers’ sacrifice a futile exercise.

Lt-Col CHANAN SINGH DHILLON (retd), Ludhiana



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