Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Other Side of Caste Issue

We often hear or read about caste related issues especially the practice of untouchability. Although this is not common in Malaysia, it is still practiced in certain parts of India.

Although I am proud of my own clan roots, I am against the practice of untouchability. On other words, I am against hereditary Varna (class), not Jati (clan).

People of the same clan are often related to each other. I am still able to some how trace my blood ties with my own clansmen. 

Like in the case of a Kandiyar friend who is related to me on my maternal side, we managed to trace our roots going up to several generations. 

His great grandmother was in fact born in my maternal grandfather's house back in India. The maternal family of my mother share the same Indian ancestral village as his paternal family.

So it is not easy to just throw away these ties.

It will be a lie if someone especially in Malaysia tells us that they do not believe in caste. Actually, it is not a matter of believing. It is a matter how it is being practiced.

The Malaysian Indians may tell that they do not look at Jati when it comes to marriage, but they still look at Varna and they look at it from various angles.

A Senior Executive of a company does not date the Janitor. Status concerned parents who look for suitable groom for their Masters holding daughter will never consider a groom who works as an Office Clerk even if he has no financial problems and has the best character. 

This status concerned attitude is also a form of casteism. To be more specific, we can call it Varnaism.

Even the most hardcore chest thumping champions of equality will never consider the Bangladeshis or Nigerians as potential grooms for their Indian daughters. (assuming that they have money)

But I am not going to declare them as bad because I noticed that this is a common human trait. The rich and famous often go after those of similar class. They do not look for brides in the slums.

Perhaps we humans have evolved to be like this. To be attached with what we consider as a reflection of ourselves.

Coming back to the purpose of article......

Sometimes I feel that highlight is only being given to one side of the story. Probably the common story of caste discrimination attracts people more.

If I were to write an article condemning all these with the usual anti-caste theme, alot of them will be delighted. Probably hundreds will share my article making it a sensational one.

But that is not what I am going to write. I will write about the problems that comes from the other side. A very sensitive issue which most people prefer not to talk about.

But for how long?

In Malaysia, I have encountered many cases which involves cheating in weddings. 

The ones mostly affected are the girls. When the family finds a groom, the groom identifies himself as "Oh yes! I am a Kaunder too". So believing that everything is alright, the wedding goes on.

They then find out that the groom is not a Kaunder and he (and his family) cheated. All hell breaks loose. Of course, you cannot just untie the Thali and walk off but it causes many people to be upset about the whole thing. I have seen families breaking apart because of this.

What happens next? 

People start questioning the need to lie about your roots. Incidents like these are more than enough to stereotype an entire community.

"They are like that. They will lie about themselves and try to marry our girls. We must never trust them"

I have probably heard the same line (above) from almost every Mudaliar, Pillai, Kaunder, Thevar, Nadar, Nair whom I have met. Same story, different version, same conclusion.

Some people also went to the extend of inserting suffix like Pillai or Nair in their birth cert despite not being a real Pillai or Nair. This only increased the level of mistrust. 

"You know that fella calling himself a Nair? He is not a real Nair. I know him and his family. We came from the same hometown"

We also have an Indian political party known as Indian Progressive Front (IPF) which was formed solely to cater for the needs of the Dalit people. They split from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

They never made it big, never really achieved anything despite having links with other Dalit organisations. 

Although it was obvious that they formed it for their own caste benefit, they have always claimed that it is a party for all Indians irrespective of castes. 

The irony is they tell others to do away with caste but they themselves have links with their own caste organisations. 

People often do not speak openly about these things be it in Malaysia or even India. 

Why the double standard? 

If we are sincere in respecting equality, we should give the same amount of attention to both sides of the story. The victims are not always the ones we think should be the victims.

You may think that I am talking rubbish.
You may even think that this is a useless piece of article.

But do your own survey and discuss this if you are interested.

(Avoid discussing if you are going to be emotional about it)

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