Census & Jati

There are some difficulties. How does one count Jatis in Hindusthan?

For instance if I go around my locality and ask people for their Jatis they might tell me but then, they might not tell me or tell me differently. All of which would depend on their circumstances.

Again, if I know that the record made by the census collector will feed a database that will then be used to channel disability benefits to me and my family; why would I not state my Jati as one that is perceived to be disadvantaged? Let us remember that none of what I state in the census will affect my actual social relationship in society. The channeling of benefits will be solely between the State’s agency and myself.

Anonymity of the scandal is firmly maintained.

So, what is it that the census collector will ask of me, apart from my Jati, in order to evaluate and mistake-proof what I have told him? Last name? Color of my skin? Profession? Income? Tax Returns? Address? Will any of these things prove that I do not belong to this Jati or that? Yes, the census man can ask me about certain rituals and customs in order to fix my Jati; however there are no clear vertical delineations and there are too numerous rituals, customs and traditions that various Jatis follow in Hindu society.

In a recent article – Francois Gautier says :

Yet, once upon a time, caste was an arrangement for the distribution of functions in society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which this distribution was based was unique and adapted to India’s social needs. It is true that the caste system degenerated and that it bred exploitation and abuses, which were unforgivable. But today it is the Brahmins who have become the ‘low’ caste of new India. Brahmins are in a minority in most villages of Uttar Pradesh where Dalits constitute 60 to 65 per cent of the population; most of the intellectual Tamil Brahmin class has emigrated out of Tamil Nadu; the average income of Brahmins is less than that of non-Brahmins; a high percentage of Brahmin students drop out at the intermediate level ; 75 per cent of domestic help and cooks in Andhra Pradesh are Brahmins; and most of Delhi’s public toilets are cleaned by Brahmins (Brahmins of India by J Radhakrishna) End Quote

I’m not too sure of his figures but still there is nothing to stop these “Brahmanas” from stating *their* Jati to be one of the perceived disadvantaged ones. (Unlike Francois I would not call these them Brahmanas (Varna) but by their respective Jatis)

Although I am not averse to Jati based census – I do not see how one can insure this excercise against mis-use. I would think that Jatis belonging to the OBC and BC categories would be most worried since claimants to the benefit cake can see an increase. Will it matter to the politicians? Think about it as a double-edged sword.

In one sense this has already occurred and I will leave you with Chandrabhan Prasad’s thoughts on the subject –

Mandal politics had vandalised the very doctrine of social justice. The only Dalit in the Mandal Commission, late LR Naik, argued splitting the Mandal quota into two — between artisan/extremely backward OBCs, and higher/land owning OBCs. Post independence, artisan OBCs gradually turned extremely backward as their occupations began disappearing due to newer tools and changes in the economy. The OBCs, or Shudras, involved in farming turned landowners due to Zamindari abolition. The neo-Kulak OBCs not only replaced Dwijas as the land owning social force, but also as new oppressors. Naik makes this point very strongly in his ‘Note of Dissent’. In order to protect the artisan OBCs and accord Mandal a human face, Naik proposed splitting the OBC quota into two. But his proposal was rejected by the powerful neo-Kulak lobby within the Mandal Commission. Dejected, LR Naik refused to sign the Mandal Recommendations and, submitted a note of dissent. But, ideologues of the social justice refuse to even discuss Naik’s well-meant concerns. The new oppressors got rewarded. End Quote

But Chandrabhan too does not provide any remedies against process subversion.

– Namaste

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