Caste and Politics in India

1330 Words Jun 14th, 2011 6 Pages
India became a nation under the British regime after 400 years of Mughal rule. Despite many changes during this long period, one unchanging phenomenon was castediscrimination.
Before British rule, a stream of Sufi saints had rejected the Brahmanism and injustice to Dalits (untouchables), but their main focus was on encouraging self-awareness and trust in a seemingly egalitarian religion with a non-discriminating, omnipresent and omnipotent god.
Real changes came in the 19th century, when the leaders of deprived castes espoused both revolt against the ideas of high-caste Hindus led by the Brahmins and belief in the modernity which had led to democratisation in Europe and the United States.
Democracy is essentially a practice of alliance
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The reservation of seats has fragmented Dalit politics further. Dalits do not constitute a single caste. More and more Dalit leaders focus on their primary caste identities to gain power. Political power is in the hands of those who are fundamentally anti-democratic. The token presence of Dalits in power is used to tell the world that Dalits as a whole have been empowered in India, but it is time to look into the ugly realities of the process.
We can see the process of political changes in the two most populous states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They were the first where the national parties were thoroughly marginalised while a large number of Dalit-OBC (the Other Backward Communities) leaders dominated the political process since 1990. This broader unity of Dalit- OBC could have changed the entire polity in India, but individual leaders and their egos became bigger than their political parties.
In addition, there was a tendency to categorise any non-Dalit-OBC politician as “Brahmanical”. Nevertheless, Dali-OBC political leaders were happy to cooperate with the right-wing Hindu Nationalist party, the BJP. Power was maintained by abusing high-caste Hindus during the day and dining and plotting with them at night.
Anti-Brahmanism and anti-ritualism is a quintessential theme for Dalit-OBC leaders, but instead of applying this to high-caste Hindus only, they apply it within the Dalit community as well and manage to marginalise members of

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