Problem Statement – Jati?

What’s the problem dude?

They say, Hindu society’s Jati system is cause for disunity and discrimination within

What do they propose to do?

– Abolish Jati

If it was that simple, why wasn’t it abolished all those years ago?

– Because if Jati was abolished, how would the State implement its Reservation policy?

So what would have happened if Reservations had not been implemented and Jati abolished?

– But how does one abolish Jati?

Well, you can identify what elements underpin Jati and then eliminate them…

– So, what are those elements?

Let’s see. 1. Endogamy 2. Jati specific customs/traditions. See? Easy! Now, let’s abolish endogamy and all such customs and traditions!…Jati will die

– Aww…really?? Time Out!

Huh?!

– Yeah, I yelled time-out!

Why?

–  I did not know you wanted a Police State.

Huh?! 

– Yes, because only a Police State could muster the authority to abolish endogamy & customs/traditions and enforce such laws.

Your kidding right? Your joking! Why would we need a Police State to enforce such laws? Hindus would gladly welcome this freedom!

– No. I’m not kidding because traditional Hindu society will not view this as freedom. Endogamy and unique customs & traditions are sources of community bonding. Moreover, plenty of Jati traditions are linked to worship and reflect the relationship of Hindus with their Gods and Goddesses.  Therefore, abolishing Jati and enforcing laws that aim to eliminate elements underpinning Jati, will effectively mean dismantling most things dear to Hindus.

Ha! What about Dalits then? Do you think they won’t want this freedom?

– Good question. But then this becomes a Dalit problem, not a Jati problem.

And why not? After all, it was because of Jati that the so-called Untouchables were never assimilated!

– But it was not intended for Jati to assimilate any group, let alone the so-called Untouchables.

That’s easy for you to say. The question remains.

– What is the question?

How do you solve the Dalit problem?

– By identifying what underpins the plight of Dalits. I believe it is, 1. Poverty 2. Lack of education/opportunity 3. Lack of political representation.

Ok, so how does one tackle all this?

– I believe poverty is not something the State can eradicate by itself, but it can help empower all Jatis including Dalits, by ensuring equal political representation leading to expanded opportunities in education and jobs.

But why all Jatis? Why not only Dalits?

– Because that is the real and proper demand of a Democracy that has empowered all its citizens to vote.

I don’t understand.

– Let me explain. Our leaders at the time of our Independence possessed two frames of mind. One frame recognized “reality” and the other envisioned what was “ideal” according to them. It was in this “ideal” frame of mind that they decided on the Right of Universal Adult Franchise in a Multi-Party Democracy. What this did was to empower each defined adult with a vote that could usher in and throw out Governments. In a Multi-Party Democracy, this condition obviously led to competition for maximum votes. In traditional society, it is common for people to vote along collective lines. Therefore, Hindus voted along Jati lines. They sought out candidates of their Jati to vote for with political parties matching the demand with supply.

What’s all this got to do with our discussion?

– Hang on.

The fault in the “ideal” was whilst the early leadership empowered individual citizens who acted collectively along Jati lines, they correspondingly did not make it incumbent upon political parties to design themselves in a way all Jatis in their sphere of contest could find representation. This fault in the design had obvious colossal implications.

Such as?

– Traditionally weaker Jatis would find no voice. Smaller and better organized/educated  Jatis could outmaneuver others for bigger slices of the cake.

Let me mull over this a bit. In the meanwhile you do agree that historically, Jati created hierarchies, discriminated against weaker Jatis, thereby causing disunity, don’t you?

– I don’t.

*Sigh*…and why not?

In traditional society it was not Jati that caused hierarchy. Hierarchy was caused by easy access to sources of power and notions of pollution. It is important to understand that Jati was not created but evolved in the manner of Hindu society’s evolution and growth. Hindus, unlike Muslims or Christians, do not convert others to grow their “religion”. Hindus have, instead, absorbed entire tribes, clans and nations unto themselves whilst leaving their respective peculiarities largely undisturbed. That is the reason why you see so much diversity and heterogeneity. So, it is quite possible that this non-enforcement of a Hindu Koran or a Hindu Bible afforded these varied tribes and clans to maintain their essential social autonomy undisturbed and encouraged practices of endogamy; that would be perfect. These autonomous tribes and clans emerged as Jatis, over a period of time. This system of Jatis created occupational and spiritual ritual dependencies – not hierarchies.

Also, I would like to see evidence to show Jati caused our national decline in the last thousand years.

Ok, time to go home now. Will catch up tommorow. Meanwhile, let me know if you have questions.

Bye, Namaste!

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2 Responses

  1. Hit the nail on the head there! What dalit jatis need is political representation, and access to economic resources. How would abolition, that basically repudiates their treatment at the hand of other jatis help dalits?

    If Jati has to disappear, let it happen naturally. We can wait another 1000 yrs for that.

    On the other hand, how did europe get rid of Jati like tendencies? Was it infusion of egalitarianism through christianity? Do those who envision a jati less Indian state, want a christian India at the cost of their high and mighty claims of the open-sourceness of ‘Hinduism’? Thick headed skunks who don’t realise that these Jatis were the ones who preserved this open-source nature, and not because some rishi commanded them to do so.

  2. Very complex. It is something that can not be done away with that easily. But then, why should we do away with it at all. I mean, would we do away with our ancient history ever? However much modernity or present day needs arise, what is history remains so and it needs to be cherished, adored and respected wholesomely. Jatis was never in denial of one’s identity. It was only with the advent of Brahminical superiority that Jatis began to be denigrated to an untouchable status. There also some of the monetarily and physically supreme Jatis managed to sustain and to a large extent overcome the Brahminical encumbrance.

    Firstly, why abolish it at all. It has no demonic qualities as those with Islam or Christianity. Since it broadly falls under the Hindu religion, it should continue to sustain with all its virtues. In this day and age, undue monopolization of the weaker Jatis are anyway distant (tribals, harijans etc. are more a political progeny than untouchables).

    Secondly and most significantly, all sections of Jatis should consolidate under the larger identify called HINDU and harmlessly retain their independent Jatis. That would neither harm the unity of Hindus at large nor threaten the independency of Jatis as such. If the predominance of Jatis begin to face naturally over a extended period of time, let it happen then, but certainly not at the cost of eroding away from the unequivocal philosophy that is HINDUISM.

    Thirdly and most critically, dismantling the Jati structure tantamounts to the majority community getting converted into either Muslims or Christians without any men or muscle to confront the forceful infusion.

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