Significance of Caste Survey – Social and Cultural Implications

Uploaded on February 27, 2024


Significance of Caste Survey – Social and Cultural Implications

Dr. Mohammmad Manzoor Alam

The Caste Survey campaign – its intent and urge to challenge the Brahminical hegemony, is born out of Mandal doctrine which shook the political landscape in India in the past.

Whatever the rhetoric by the stake holders, political will is only way which can take this demand to its logical end.

Unfortunately, both major political parties i.e. BJP and the Congress want to evade this issue because revelation of the data emanating from such surveys can legally, morally, and ethically challenge the imposed and systemic hegemony of the upper caste elites who remained at the helm with regards to governance and decision making.

The overall empowerment and their role in governance and decision making of this major social block of Indian society is hampered due to the cunning brinkmanship of the upper class elites right from the day we got our independence. However, there was a parallel movement which saw the castes and marginalized section got empowered and a surge in awareness gave a boost to the demand and raised the aspirations of OBC/SCs. It’s like, “they want to rule – not to be ruled”.

The caste survey has the potential to expose the deceptive narratives of Wider Hindu umbrella. Any such survey across the country has the potential to disturb the Hindutva narrative. That will of course expose the discourse on minorities, especially Muslim minorities.

It’s important to note the inherent conflicts in practices, beliefs, acceptance and denials within larger Hindu society which makes the Hindutva plank vulnerable. The liberal meaning of Hind society now seems to be a thing of past and got compressed to fit into the design and framework of the Right Wing hawks (RSS). The definition of Hindutva is as such that where pride of being Hindu negates the caste identity of castes which is the main legacy of 1000s of years slavery. Too diligently worked out strategy incorporated the major chunk of Hindu society under one banner of Hindutva to achieve the objectives by the RSS. The success is gauged from the mobilization of minds and hearts to target the minorities and at the same time forget the caste identity, affiliation despite the historic reality of Sawarna persecution of castes.

It’s a successful experiment by the RSS which proved beneficial for RSS dream project added to that is a political bonus, a windfall which gave them the leverage to control the tools of the state.

This is what is a direct challenge to all the political parties other than the BJP, an existential challenge.

This prompted non BJP parties to look for a way out of this mess. Whilst Hindutva onslaught robbed them of their votaries, developmental issues are not working nor that they have any strong ideological counter to the right wing political narrative, they thought it as a saver which may detach their votaries from radical Hindutva stable. It’s a chance they think to save their political fortune and existence.

The big question is where do Muslim stand when all that is happening and reshaping the polity and social frame – everything moves around Hindutva narrative?

Before engaging with the question it should be noted that, “Islam stands for Equality”.  However, it is unfortunate that, centuries of co-existence with majority Hindu society, the elements of caste hierarchy entered in to their practices, which is not the true perspective of Islam and its teachings.

Hypothetically, with caste survey done and in line with the data available the demand for representation according to the proportion is a done case with change of guards at the helm. Does that bring any benefit to the minorities and particularly the Muslim minorities? The answer seems to be NO.

The BJP RSS combined enhanced to subconscious desire of majoritarian supremacy which is being practiced and more or less legitimized. It’s now well entrenched in the Indian psyche and accepted as a way of legitimate assertion and way to survival. Hypothetically, if the survey and its logical result (assumed) provides a total freedom of empowerment and their share in governance and decision making to those on the edge for ages, will make any difference? Too charitable to assume that since the psyche has been recalibrated and that will maintain a status quo with regards to the Muslim minorities or other minorities.

The dark saffron shades will remain, the hate against minorities, taught and hammered for the last 10 years will not go – at least for a generation.

Muslims need to redefine themselves, evolve and stand with firmness to assert their constitutional and human rights and with a new approach which may help to engineer or initiate a social change and thoughts could be a silver lining for the coming generation. 

(The writer is General Secretary, All India Milli Council)


Go Back