Intro: Dr BR Ambedkar wanted annihilation of caste from the Hindu society. Taking his mission forward, the RSS, through its man making and nation-building project, is slowly but surely breaking the barriers of caste identity.
The Sayam shakha in IT Hub of Gurgaon is proceeding as usual. Today is Sunday, and the numbers are more. I have just joined a week back, and am trying to memorise the names. There is a new face in the shakha today, and he introduces himself as Amit, a system analyst in a leading MNC—working on internet technology.
Rahul Ji—the Shakha Pramukh, is explaining the next game, where he will call out a name and the person needs to do 2 sit-ups and say “Jai Shri Ram” before the ‘tiger’ catches him. I have a question, I said. “As my name is also Amit, how do we know which one is summoned? I propose we should use surname along with names for both of us”. Rahul Ji asked “What technology do you work in”? “Java” I said. “Ok, so you are Amit Ji-Java, and he is Amit Ji-. Net”. So now, I am Amit Ji, or even Amit Java and you?
Breaking the Myth
Did Bharat discriminate on basis of caste? Yes-Says the history as we read in schools. No-Say ancient Bharatiya sculptures and literature. We can observe that though the caste existed, it was more of a celebration of diversity than enmity. Be it the Shabri episode, or the Nishadraj Kewat one. Was caste a criterion in the Sanyas tradition? Valmiki, Kabir, Soordas, Tukaram-Which caste would you put them in? In ancient Bharat, caste was according to a profession and not by birth. Even today, what does a title of ‘Shastri’ denote, a caste or a professional qualification? ‘Maharshi’ Valmiki was not stopped from reading and even creating epic, was he?
We know how Mughals and later British spreaded the venom as a part of their 'divide and rule' policy. The conspiracy is still on, only the perpetrators have changed in the name of Communists, Secularists and the Intellectuals-Liberals. Through dominance over the interactive channels – The media, entertainment industry, education and the 'civil society', they cultivate the same divisive tendencies.
Sangh—The Torch Bearer
RSS has always been a torch bearer of the Bharatiya culture and eradicating the caste based discrimination is one of the significant parts of it. In this sense, RSS inculcating a simple culture of not using surnames, many a times referring to caste identity, has a deep meaning. Besides team games and informal interactions among swayamsevaks, RSS has taken special efforts to bring the hitherto marginalised castes and communities without underlining the primordial identities. Some new initiatives are now added to this.
The new drive which is started by the RSS underlines organisation's commitment towards making the caste barriers redundant. Samajik Samrasta Programme: The Samajik Samrasta seminar, held at Shri Swaminarayan temple in Haridham Sokhada near Vadodara in August 2014, saw participation of people from across the country and was guided by the RSS Sarkaryavah Bhaiyaji Joshi.
Hindu Mitra Parivar: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has started the programme. It is directed against the practice of untouchability. “The VHP will ensure people from all castes get to drink the same water wherever there is a common water source, that no Hindu is barred from entering any temple, and that there is a single crematorium for all Hindus, irrespective of caste,” Said Dr. Pravin Togadia, VHP international working president, on 22-March-2015. RSS Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat has given a call to all organisations and the Hindu society to practice this one well, one temple and one crematorium in letter and spirit.
Politics and Caste – The love-hate relationship
Psephologists believe that caste is the single most influential factor in winning an election in India. It is also argued that because of the caste equations, core issues like Governance, Nationalism and Corruption do not come to the fore. Parties are formed on caste identity, tickets are distributed on caste equations and even ministerial berths are awarded on the same 'representation' theory.
BJP, taking inspiration from the RSS ideology, shows the way forward in politics. Though it still has miles to go, there are indications. Many leaders are emerging within the party fold from so called backward castes, while others are eager to join the ideological fold. “Social untouchability may have ended, but political untouchability continues. The next decade will belong to the Dalits and the backwards”, said PM Narendra Modi in April 2013. He was chief guest at the Sivagiri Mutt, founded by Kerala’s legendary social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru who led the backward Ezhava community to social awakening. During the elections campaign for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, many ‘intellectuals’ and media reports tried to evoke the caste identity of the Prime Minister, without considering the fact that he was the PM candidate despite being from lower caste, rising from the organisational ladder and not because of being from lower caste.
Rachit Kaushik (The writer is a software engineer and social media activist)