Indian TV's Evolving Grasp on the Caste Churning in India
Barkha Dutt is one of our most prominent and smartest TV talk-show hosts. I remember the Barkha Dutt NDTV talk-show episode covering the issue of OBC reservation when the Dalit/OBC minority group in the audience walked out in disgust as the rest of the audience and program agenda was clearly pro-anti-reservationist. It seemed to me that this time Barkha was out of her depth on the caste churning and discourse in society and was disconnected with caste discrimination in India like so many of the urban elite in this country.
Soon, however, there was a change. Barkha wrote a piece on how the upper caste English-educated had an undue advantage in Indian society and how those who did not have the means for a private English-medium school education had to struggle to make it in the ‘Shining India’, and that this business of the ‘merit’ discussion was only valid if everyone (especially the Dalits and the OBCs) had the same opportunity as those who claimed ‘merit’ (which was the merit of talent plus English education, plus private coaching, plus right orientation, plus right location, plus right upbringing, plus... the rest!).
Barkha has now done a brilliant piece (link enclosed below) on the Mayawati phenomena and expressed the same kind of disgust we have felt about the upper caste prejudice and writings about her coming to power. This is seen all over and especially on the web where the upper caste fraternity are having a field day lampooning Mayawati instead of coming to terms with the emerging, evolving India of the majority oppressed – the Dalit-Bahujans.
This is crass prejudice and arrogance based on nothing but India's hidden apartheid of the caste system.
The oppressed majority will take time to learn how to manage the power and governance structures. Sure, Mayawati should not act with a vendetta against those whom she perceives as her opponents. Sure, she should be inclusive and not run with divisive politics. Sure, she will have to grow in her leadership role and not run using another feudal system of leadership. But Indian political leadership and governance has become increasingly feudal in nature and it is not just the Gandhi clan which is feudalistic.
Mayawati has promised social justice for the oppressed. She is pro-reservation for Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians. She is in fact in favor of some affirmative action even for the upper caste poor. We all hope she delivers and does not vacillate like she has done in the past and align with the communal and casteist forces for the sake of political power.
There is one further major point in Mayawati's inclusiveness the media has missed. For a Dalit Chief Minister who has come to power on her own she has given far more members of the upper castes a share in power than the upper castes have ever given to the Dalits through the centuries given their population percentage. That is a telling comment on caste fairness!