The recent spate of political football to quell dissent and keep its flock together saw a government in the south of India go the LKG way, as they call it, each letter depicting a particular caste. You create many titles with prefix and suffix of Chief Minister to keep everyone happy. In another state of north India, the last time they voted for caste based leaders, tons of public money was siphoned off to build a park of stone elephants and their own statues. Then we have the ruling national party, who believe in caste politics of a different kind, where the surname carries more weight than talent and experience. Who is right and who is wrong? Rather, even the left belongs to the red caste. If caste is about belonging, then what is the caste equation that touches us on an every day basis?
The Corporate Caste: They are your typical english speaking, good earning population, most of whom would refuse to go to the polling booth because it’s not mandatory. They will shout support for Anna Hazare, but not turn up on a weekday even if he sits on a fast in the middle of Mumbai. They will even open their offices half days on voting days, so that their employees are still not able to vote as they spend hours up and down to the office.
The Money Craving Caste: Mostly the poor belong to this green caste. Money speaks, and how. A day before the polling day, potential voters are flooded with cash, booze, eats, gifts so that the leader of a particular community or area may be bought out to tell his people whom to vote for. Now almost a mandate for political parties to pay for their vote, this once-in-a-election opportunity is rather coveted.
The Opportunistic Caste: Here you will find industrialists being baited by politicians to pitch in with party funds to get clearances and pay up through NGOs or other means that benefits them directly, rather privately. So the ministers become your marketing touts even as you emerge a power player. Even new technology or life changing ideas may be forgotten in favour of favours, especially misused when minority community tags turn vote banks.
The Middle Class Caste: Forever squeezed between the rich and the poor, they are the experiment lab of every government. These are the guys whose pan number, bank numbers, everything is transparent. They are the people who stay in constant fear of price rise, petrol politics, along with the constant urge to become truly rich. Today’s India’s biggest chunk, they are a rising phenomenon but at the mercy of everyone.
The Corruption Caste: This is where most of India meets the side of India they woundn’t want to. You want your work done fast, pay up. Even though there are groups fighting for an anti-corruption law, it has taken just 65 years in the parliament as the law gets referred every now and then to new standing committees. As the registrar’s office in real estate tops the charts, most people just have to work through touts and get their work done.
The Idealistic Caste: These are the guys who are really universal and open in their views. They don’t want to be calibrated by government forms that asks for your religion and caste to give you admission to school. They fight for issues that concern the larger population. They are the heroes who work to save earth, trees, water, language, culture, women’s rights, child abuse and even corruption itself, and they keep on doing it selflessly.
A government is created and a constitution instituted, with representatives to help people live in peace and harmony. Today, people’s egos have taken over the posts they are supposed to serve. Instead of sustaining a thriving civilization for the population, they work for their interests. All in the name of the caste they were born into. Ironically, a caste is a tag you acquire at birth by chance, not by choice, but it gives you the power to belong. In today’s world, it manifests itself in the mindset that people choose to base their lives on. Where will you belong?