The report that India has rejected appeals not to oppose the inclusion of caste in a new set of standards on non-discrimination being considered by the United Nations is surprising. There is no point in burying our head in the sand and believing that caste is not a problem in our society. In fact, it is the biggest curse in India, preventing it from realising its human potential to the fullest.
Unless we take corrective action in time, we will see slogans like “burn, baby burn” (used in the Los Angeles race riots in 1965) raised by those denied their rightful place for years together by a privileged few. Casteism cannot be wished away. It needs to be surgically removed by state action lest it destroys us. And the first step in that direction is to acknowledge that the problem exists in a big way in India.
India has done the right thing by rejecting appeals not to oppose the inclusion of caste in the definition of racial discrimination. There may be innumerable castes in India but most people are in favour of retaining their caste identity. There may be some cases of caste discrimination but as a whole the country is largely free from bias. People belonging to the backward and marginalised sections are educated and occupy top posts in government departments and politics, thanks to the reservation policy which has been in force since Independence.