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Updated: April 22, 2013 11:42 IST

Working towards a casteless society

Sathwik N. N.
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Ram Manohar Lohia
The Hindu Archives
Ram Manohar Lohia

Instead of criticising the system, we need to find a solution within the system which will lead us to our goal

“Caste restricts opportunity. Restricted opportunity constricts ability. Constricted ability further restricts opportunity. Where caste prevails, opportunity and ability are restricted to ever-narrowing circles of the people,” said Ram Manohar Lohia. Today, India on the one hand is on the verge of launching its second space shuttle to the moon; on the other hand, its citizens are ‘confusion personified’. Amidst all this chaos about caste, creed, vote banks, terrorism and much other worldly ridicule, it is time for us to retrospect and take pragmatic steps towards building a casteless society.

Protesting against conducting a caste-based census would hardly solve the issue, for shunning ourselves from the truth won’t make the bitter truth sweet. A country which has suffered the caste system for over a thousand years can’t become ‘casteless’ overnight. A caste-based census was extremely important in a country like ours given the reservations and the quotas that we have to plan. So, instead of criticizing the system, we need to find a solution within the system which would lead us to our goal.

The Indian Constitution doesn’t give us an option not to belong to any caste. Our society does, but not the Constitution. An entirely personal and spiritual endeavour such as this definitely doesn’t need a government seal, but the lives and thoughts of the great people who preached secularism failed to become a movement because of the above mentioned flaw in our Constitution.

If an idea gets constitutionalised or gets governmental back-up, it surely will gain momentum. Take for example the step of the Karnataka Government to mark the driving licences of those willing to donate their organs after death with a green dot. This step publicised the idea and more and more people got enrolled. Similarly we can ignite a ‘casteless movement’ by constitutionalising it.


Inter-caste marriages are intended to be the stepping stone towards building a casteless society. But they are having exactly the opposite effect; they have turned out to be a means of conversion. My argument is that these couples must be given an option to elevate themselves as being ‘casteless’. We must provide these people a platform to lead lives by the principles they believe in, and be an example to society.

In places where there is a necessity to state one’s caste, one must be given an option to identify himself as ‘casteless’, if he wishes to. I would prefer ‘casteless’ to ‘Indian” because in the latter case we would again be restricting ourselves to a boundary, which would be a second grade decision when you look at it spiritually. ‘Casteless’ would mean he is just a part of the creation and nothing else.

Now, aren’t we dividing the society further by introducing another category? Yes, we are, but look at it this way. Imagine that you are caught in the middle of a maze. There are also people around you who are equally confused and the whole environment is in chaos. But you somehow have discovered that the way out of the maze is on the other side of the wall you are standing next to.

So, you decide to tunnel through the wall. With so many paths and turns and doors already existing, is it wise of you to create another by tunnelling the wall? You believe it is! Now this analogy might give a solution to the ambiguity we are facing.


It would undoubtedly be a brave decision to enrol oneself as ‘casteless’, considering the opposition and criticism these people have to face from their families, and only an intellectually cultured mind can do that. So be it a dalit or an upper caste person, who elevates himself as ‘casteless’, because he is educated, will definitely not need any kind of reservation and he falls into the general category (no quotas, mind you).

There will be some practical problems. Now, because of this categorical shift, there will be need for some alterations in the reservation percentage and a few other minor practical issues, to which solutions can be worked out. But the advantages of this system seem promising.

The children of these ‘casteless’ parents will, by birth, have nothing tagged to their names, and this continues, generation to generation. Isn’t it wonderful to see a tree pop up amidst acres and acres of weed? And won’t this tree produce more trees? One day, can’t we see a thick forest in that place?

A thousand years later, if even this idea gets corrupted, someone else will find a better solution. As of now, if being casteless can become a constitutional provision, our society will definitely raise itself a few notches higher.

(The author is in his second year B.E at M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore. The views expressed are personal)

I like this idea.

from:  Rama B
Posted on: Apr 24, 2013 at 18:03 IST

Only the upper caste have the luxury of calling for a casteless society.
For those who continue to bear the brunt of caste-based discrimination
in their everyday life, to claim to be casteless is simply a very bad
joke. The author's intentions are good but he may profit more by making
an attempt to understand how caste works in society (by reading about
it, travelling a bit) before expressing views that are at best,
extremely naive.

from:  Venkat Ramanujam
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 23:15 IST

"Clarity" is the one word that can describe this article.

from:  Akshay Bhatt
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 22:10 IST

Excellent ! such good thoughts in your article. This must be made to the
front pages of all news papers to enlighten the minds of all Indians.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 17:20 IST

I owe you, Sathwik. Any good change will have hell lots of obstacles, but it should be started. All the problems, issues, concerns would be sorted out in due course. I enroll myself as Casteless..

from:  Vasudev
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 11:28 IST

Profound article by a young mind, may your ideas flourish into actions as you grow.

from:  Sunil B
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 11:17 IST

Aiming for a caste less society is a very good idea & hope one day everybody will start thinking like this.We should give more preference to talent and excellence instead of concentrating on caste and reservation.We cannot remove caste suddenly.It will certainly hurt sentiment of people.We should remove reservation in all kind of education field & provide free education to deserving student(economically backward).

from:  Kunal
Posted on: Apr 23, 2013 at 10:26 IST

Kudos for thinking in a different way but left me a little confused... Why exactly would people who benefit from reservations forgo the status of xyz caste? Even if they forgo it, does discrimination occur based on "constitutional caste" of a person or "socially identified caste"? Also, how many intercaste marriages really take place between "lower" and "upper" castes?

from:  Saurabh Mahajan
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 23:27 IST

Definitely you look like a dalit who wants to be castless devoid of
any cultural identity. Cast is not only a social structure, it also is
a cultural symbol, if you think of it. different cultural/traditions
are different among different casts that need to be preserved &
Also, frm a practicle pt of view, making society general casteless and
in turn actually getting them as Fwd caste without state reservation
system will not be accepted by SC/ST/OBC category. you are being
foolish in ur utopian mindset.

from:  andy
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 19:44 IST

Its very satisfying to read such an article written by a young mind
like you. we seriously need young people like us to come up an take up
these issues, however small or big are they.

from:  Swet Kumar
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 18:15 IST

Instead of creating a new layer, I believe if Government re-visits the entire reservation policy only to provide reservations to economically weaker sections and to the persons living under BPL and not on basis of castes/creed/religion.

from:  P V Ramesh
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 17:42 IST

Why cast base reservation, the motivation behind the reservation is to help poor. reservation should based on income, because poor are poor whatever cast they belongs, I know many of my Bhrahmin friends whose family are poor, they need help in education. Rather then dividing the soceity by cast let help poor people.

from:  Anil
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 17:14 IST

Very nice thought.I hope for better casteless future.Thanks keep it up.

from:  Amarnath Tiwari
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 17:03 IST

Excellant article Sathwik,
Most ideal solution for a casteless society would be to ban writing full surnames after their names. All the names of indians should start with Indian ---------- and i am sure one cannot recognize the caste, creed, religion of the individual. May be the rulers of the country can start the trend and subsequently every one will follow, which is bound to give effective results.

from:  Mukesh
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 16:16 IST

Idea is good, but the so-called upper caste people might not probably
like to be identified as caste-less !

from:  Ritesh S
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 15:56 IST

Though this looks better in paper, the idea will fail miserably because though we speak at length about caste/oppression, we are not ready to miss the benefits that are given by the constitution in the name of caste.

So, unless there is an end to caste based benefits, the idea of ironing out caste from the society will never end.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 15:48 IST

I have been contemplating on this idea for a while. Hope this happens.

from:  Bharath Daka
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 15:27 IST

As Justice C S Dharmadhikari said on TV (Satyameva Jayate), caste does not matter in many situations. Mahatma Gandhi preached a lot on caste but could not eradicate it. Justice Dharmadhikari said that his family members accepted matching blood from servants. That means blood of all groups is present in all castes. It is a good example. I think money is more progressive than blood. Money has no groups. It is universally acceptable. Our economic based thinking should take us away from caste. That will be a practical solution I hope.

from:  Nalam
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 15:08 IST

You have a good heart, young man! And, a deep-felt love for humanity as a whole! Good thinking, good proposal, and above all, a practical solution to a mind-boggling problem. Such writings give us elders a real hope for a better future. Well done! Thanks to 'The Hind' for encouraging such young souls!

from:  P Rajeswaran
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 13:58 IST

An engineering student taking up a social issue is unbelievable. I salute you,Sathwik,for your execellent article. Please keep it up.

from:  Sankara Narayanan
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 13:40 IST

Aiming for a caste less society is a very good idea and even better if "
if being caste less can become a constitutional provision", but the
question is classless society, incentive wise profitable for the parties
involved in making that dream true? The answer is no. We need to give
positive profitable incentive to the parties who will be involved in
making such aim a reality.A child is born caste less but its the society
that teaches him/her to be a caste biased individual.

from:  Tamoghna
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 13:26 IST

This is really a good option to reduse castisism.

from:  Sunnu
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 12:53 IST

I am not sure I agree with Mr. Sathwik. He says Caste has been around
for more than a thousand years. This is wrong. The word 'Caste' is of
Portugese origin, and was introduced by the colonisers who did not
understand our 'Varna' and 'Jati' system. These provided great social
safety net to people always. That is why you see them surviving so
many millenia; possible misuse can be traced to 18th century onwards.
So in the life of our nation, it is a recent phenomenon. However,
Britishers made good use of it to break up India, and we bought the
whole explanation lock, stock and barrel from them. Please, critically
evaluate our history! This kind of wrong reporting, and talk about
'casteless' categorization, without replacing it with adequate social
structures is not going to work.

from:  Krishna Kumar
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 11:57 IST

I completely agree with you Sathwik N.N. Although it will be, in my
opinion, very hard to sort out the practical problems that arise by
nullifying the bane of our society that is the caste system.
Excellent writing. I really enjoyed reading your point of view. Good

from:  Abhishek
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 11:23 IST

Indeed a novel concept that has the potential to change the current social setup!

from:  matiul
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 08:38 IST

It is a romantic idea. Disintegration of caste requires a fundamental change in socio-
economic conditions.

from:  B. Rama Naidu
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 03:00 IST

Good thoughts from a young mind !! If younger generation is like this,
then surely we can eradicate caste system. Kudos !!!

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Apr 22, 2013 at 01:27 IST
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