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Mains Answer Writing

16-December-2023

Q1) Castelessness is a privilege that only a few can afford whose caste privilege has already translated into social, political, and economic capital. Comment.

ANSWER

  • Caste system can be referred to as a socio-economic framework for arranging and organizing various social groups in the society. Caste invariably dictates one’s position in society and casts its shadow on all domains of human activities. In contemporary times, it is believed that the caste identities are being rewritten or even becoming invisible, as:
  1. Urbanization:
  2. Relative anonymity of the caste calculus in a cosmopolitan urban milieu. E.g., people of different castes celebrating colleague’s birthday together in office.
  3. The day-to-day requirements of urban life tend to undermine the rigid caste boundaries.

E.g., usage of public utilities like metro, bus etc.

  1. Metropolitan cities facilitate a better chance at social mobility. E.g., access to education in the field of medicine, engineering, management open a plethora of job opportunities.
  2. The limitations/vagaries of urban life dilute caste consciousness. E.g., economic consideration overweighs caste preferences while prioritizing accommodation.
  3. Merit: Professional achievements may have the effect of making the impact and influence of caste irrelevant. E.g., an acclaimed artist is assessed for her work instead of caste; a restaurateur builds her name on the quality and taste of the food.
  4. Transition to modernity:
  5. In the knowledge economy, higher premium is paid on acquired skills rather than inherited identities.
  6. Individualism, a trait of modernity, downplays caste.
  7. Scientific temperament imparts rational outlook towards social realities. E.g., purity and pollution will be a factor of personal hygiene and not of caste.
  8. New determinants of “dominant caste”:
  9. Wealth as an indicator of prestige has impeded the dominance of caste consciousness.

E.g., land owning class forms the dominant section of the society.

  1. Political presence undercuts the conventional disadvantages associated with caste. E.g., representation in legislative bodies, emergence of regional political parties. etc.
  2. In a globalized world, social capital depends on parameters of inter-personal and professional relationships, instead of caste relations.

Though the above factors have deepened the paradigm of castelessness, the effect is not uniform for all.

Indelible mark of caste identities can be seen from:

  1. Caste as a collective asset:
  2. Caste as a basis for affirmative actions has made it an indelible identity marker. E.g., reservation for SCs/OBCs in educational institutions is a seminal for social mobility/inclusion.
  3. Assertion of caste is also important to resist the attempts of assimilation in the mainstream. E.g., tribal resistance against forced mainstreaming.
  4. Competition for socio-economic resources have amplified the relevance of caste in contemporary times. E.g., caste-based organization of businessmen to enhance bargaining/lobbying capacity; formation of Bhim Army in UP.
  5. Caste considerations predominantly dominate our social relationships. E.g., inter-caste marriages are still considered a taboo.
  6. Caste factor continue to be a drag in realization of the ideals of an egalitarian society. E.g., As per some reports, more than 97% people doing manual scavenging are either Dalits/SCs.
  7. Despite the ample provisions for affirmative actions, social mobility has been more cosmetic and less substantial. E.g., As per government data (2022), the number of SC and ST officers at the rank of joint secretary and secretary in GoI stands at 4% and 4.9% respectively.
  8. Caste dynamics cast their tall shadow on electoral politics. E.g., caste considerations influence the political parties to field electoral candidates.
  • Caste is an ubiquitous phenomenon of the Indian social system. In the influence of modern practices, globalization, and cosmopolitan culture, the caste lines may have become blur; however, caste continues to wield its influence on Indian psyche and its impacts are palpable across the socio-economic, and political spectrum.

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