I travelled from Delhi to Chennai by train last month. A north Indian family travelled with me in my compartment. Chatting up with the passengers, I casually asked them to which part of India they belonged — were they Punjabis? They replied, ‘no no, we are Sharmas from Uttar Pradesh ... Brahmins.” I never asked them what their caste was. They voluntarily gave me the information and seemed proud to do so.
I thought ‘thank god, such tendencies do not exist in Tamil Nadu, the land of Periyar and Subramania Bharati.’ But when I read about PMK leader S. Ramadoss’ call to consolidate the intermediate castes against Dalits, I was shocked and realised that we are no better. If Dr. Ramadoss is allowed to sow such poisonous ideas in young minds, the caste system will never cease to exist — even if 1000 Bharatis or Periyars try to reform us.
Dr. Ramadoss is not in a mood to learn his lessons from the last elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly. He is bent on recovering the lost ground by playing the caste card. His party will soon learn it the hard way.