29th August, 2021
Between 1500 and 1000 BC, a caste system was introduced in India where individuals were separated based on their class, or Varna. The aim was to simplify duties, protect the virtue of a caste, and establish order. The lower class became slaves to the high society, and the Dalit community (also known as outcasts or untouchables) were spat on.
It is safe to say that the rise of this discriminatory system was the start of perhaps the most terrible disparity that still haunts my nation’s spirits.
You might imagine that current day India would have moved beyond this terrible, ancient system that untouchability would now be abolished, interfaith marriage wouldn’t be a punishable act, and individuals wouldn’t be victimized based on race. However, race, caste, and religion remain the prime ordering principles in India.
This continued discrimination based on religion is best captured in a recent series of “love jihad” based laws. “Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory blaming Muslim men for baiting Hindu women into marriage with the aim of forcefully converting them to Islam. Such laws aim to stop forced religious conversions or conversions through fraudulent ways anyone wanting to convert to another religion would have to submit documents requesting official recognition of the conversation to officials at least two months in advance.
This growing hate movement came to a head in the Citizenship Amendment Act, announced by Prime Minister Modi’s government in 2019. For the first time, citizenship in India was based on a person’s religion making citizenship easier to attain only for non-Muslim immigrants from neighboring Muslim majority countries.
“The Citizenship Act 2019 has ruffled the Muslim immigrants as they are treated as illegal settlers in the absence of valid identity documents,” said Dasgupta.
Following the announcement of the act, protests erupted in New Delhi. The nation saw on the streets, leading to the death of 43 people, was beyond dreadful. During the protests, five Muslim men were physically assaulted by at least six police officers while forcing them to sing the national anthem. Hindu mobs beat Muslims with crowbars, metal pipes, and iron rods. The crowds then tied a rope around a victim’s neck and hauled him into a gutter.
Yet religious violence isn’t the only plague in India. Although caste based discrimination is unconstitutional, caste based violence persists.
There has been a consistent decrease in the quality of political discourse and critical thinking in India, at the moment, the political discourse in country signals the “intellectual bankruptcy” that its leaders showcase. They’re so obsessed with religion, caste, and race that they’re allowing these factors to affect our laws and policies.
It seems like we are moving in reverse. In 2020, hundreds of Muslims assembled to celebrate a festival amidst the corona virus pandemic. The group was broken down and dispersed by the police. Yet days later, the same thing was done by Hindus with hardly any objection.
As long as Hinduism is strong, caste will be strong, and as long as there is caste, there will be lower caste.
(Asian Peace Research)