Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Everyday casteism and their masks

Kaleidoscope is born in a world where he is encountering caste every now a then. He knows caste predisposition is there and it often determines a lot of other things. The peculiarities lie when apparently unrelated things are linked to caste.

Some prominent discourses:

"There must be a bunch of poor performing students coming from Scheduled Caste background!" - caste-performance interface (yes, loaded!)

"Whom to teach? we have taught such an elite class of students, these students are not in a position to take what we offer!" Class - caste - quality- class-position of teacher (loaded again!)

"You know this service is now more open towards rural counterparts - people are coming from different corners of the state and about their quality - the less said, the better!" rural/urban, elite/subaltern(?) interface (ethnic cleansing, perhaps!)

"The problem with them is that they are coming from nearby areas - they are first generation learners - it is difficult to make them understand what we teach!" elites facing failures (Narcissism!)

"You can't be sure, Das can be SC or Genral (smiles) chowdhury is even more confusing - you know what I mean" uncertainties (template failure, elites need extra effort to even judge as a person)

In the name of positive (?) discrimination:

You have good number of students and you need to know who belongs to what category? You need ease of governance, mark the students as SC/ST/OBC and so on in the attendance register. Therefore, Kaleidoscope is reminded again and again who is who, what is what and hence it not only eases the governance but also helps you to judge their performance!! Medusa, Kaleidoscope's friend has tried to white-ink those categories in another workplace  - but Kaleidoscope knows as others too, white-ink gives you even higher prominence perhaps. Medusa has been successful to stop its recurrence, a success indeed!

Disappearance of identities and further consolidation

Kaleidoscope makes frequent field visits and when he tries to understand the people's caste affiliations, since 2004 onwards he is encountering identities as SCs, STs, OBCs and not any of the traditional caste identities. This was there as early as 2004 and this has become even more profound now. Educated youngsters doesn't even know their traditional caste names, at best they know their clan name! Yes, clan matters in life-cycle rituals, therefore, it is surviving. 

What lies next?

Kaleidoscope knows there would be even stronger identity consolidations as his world will continue to see, discuss and judge people through a casteist lens and those would rather be administrative categories and not the diverse categories. 
Frankly, Kaleidoscope doesn't know what will happen next, but he knows the discourses, their judgements and apparent masks of education - leadership and perhaps even expert opinions!

Next time you encounter a discourse where you find people sympathetically discussing people's failures related to family background, location, etc. keep no misconception - these are dangerously close to casteist judgements. Perhaps there are masks to encounter, masks to tear apart - Masks that Kaleidoscope finds sometimes within himself - and he hates that!

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1 comment:

  1. So much pride that we have with our 'progressive' mindset. Beautifully written.