Social media debates caste discrimination

Ashish Jadhav
Friday, 8 September 2017

‘Communities shouldn’t use incidents to widen social rift’

Pune: A police complaint filed by former India Meteorological Department (IMD) director Medha Khole alleging that her female cook had hurt her religious sentiments and cheated her has stunned many.

The episode went viral on social media and once again underlined the deep-rooted caste bias communities hold against each other despite Maharashtra’s long history of social reform since the 12th century.

Social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, etc, have been flooded with mostly acrimonious reactions from both sides targeting each other’s community. Shockingly, certain sections of society backed Khole during this episode while another section warned of consequences.

Commenting on the issue, noted social researcher Hari Narke said this should be seen as a fight between progressive versus orthodox thought instead of calling it a dispute between two persons belonging to two different castes. 

“There are both good and bad people in every caste. So, one should not target a specific section of society by capitalising on this incidence or make an issue out of it, which would drive a rift between two communities,” Narke said 

Narke said Khole’s act is highly condemnable as she practises the caste system. “In fact, such a well educated government officer and a scientist should not observe the caste system. One should ask Khole whether she has been using ‘panchang’ (traditional almanac) all these years to make weather forecasts for the IMD, which went wrong many times. In this case, a police complaint should have been filed against her,” Narke said. He pointed out that Khole dared to resort to the caste system in the context of changing power, cultural and social equations. 

When contacted, retired Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant said the Constitution of India prohibits observing untouchability but the caste system is still observed, which shows the sick mentality of society. He said, “Many people from our society invoke social reformers to claim that they are fighting against the caste system. However, in fact, in personal life, everyone enjoys the caste system. If an opportunity is available, it is misused for targeting certain sections of society,” Sawant said.

In order to eliminate the caste system, each and every section of society should come together and fight against the chaturvarnya system, he added.

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