An unequal and inequitous society?
Our society is inegalitarian; hierarchical only!
Only social sciences can give us that rare insight into human behaviour,human psychology and also much of the social dynamics without which we can’t talk possibly with any deeper sense about the future.
A new Liberalism in times of so much terror and destruction and violence?
The Social Justice ministry presided over by Meira Kumar, the distinguished daughter of the late great leader Jagjivan Ram, has written to the government, the ministry of braodcasting, drawing attention to the need for the media, in particular,how the names of specific castes be addressed.The current usages like “upper castes” and “lower castes” give a derogatory impression and so the correct scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and other backward castes are better in public discourse.This is a right message and the right sentiment,given the discriminations that abound in our society.
The terms “castes”and”classes” are always problematic and troublesome in our social discourse. They convey often conflicting meanings.
Society is a unique human organisation that accommodates and assmilates all the humans and their aspirations. Their often contradictory natures, the individuals and groups within societies, are turned into some structure and given meaning in differing manners suited for each age and times.
The various progressive measures to bring in a new sense of social justice have done much to ensure this but the more political solutions like 69 per cent reservations for OBCs have been stalled by court cases and at present the 50 per cent reservation seems to be one solution for justice.But the political solutions remain political, only a vote bank politics and the society as a whole has remained immune to the march towards what is called social justice.
In a more basic sense,all societies, at all times have remained unequal and often highly inequitous.The social and class distinctions have been so much part of even the most modern societies like UK and USA.In UK the class differences were always part of British society.In the USA,there is again a distinct class difference,as in India the US society is marked by racial differences,the Black vs White as in India among the castes.
Class and caste differences first show in the education and social status of the communities.In UK,the very basis of education and social status was decided by the two public schools, namely, Eton and Harrow and the two universities, Oxford and Cambridge.
Eton was founded in the 15th century by Royal charter for pupils who were”opt for study and of good morals”and also” Paupers and Indigents.Harrow was originally a charitable institution.
But how they evolved?They became in due course the most privileged schools for the wealthy! Writes one observer: “In due course they were monopolised by the wealthy classes”Harold Wilson,The Great English Schools).In 1938,the students paid 300 pounds only.At Oxford. slightly a higher fee.Today at Eton,a fee of 15,000 pounds is charged and yet no vacancies!
The irony is that we are now witnessing the same tendencies in India too.The most expensive and the most pretentious International Schools are coming where the fees are beyond the reach of the old middle class families. The targets are clear.These schools are for those who want to pay the stiff fees and also want to look different! Already we see the “public schools, including the Doon school attracting the most rich new generation business family children only! Very soon the political class,yes now having all first time rich but nevertheless the most unscrupulous elements in society joined together.The new political class almost monopolise the political space, Rajya Sabha nominations are now almost auctioned.It was rumoured in the recent Presidential election, one leading coporate house lobbied the Shiv Sena votes for Pratibha Patel. Why,even Sonia Gandhi used a private plane owned by a corporate house for her special visit to Russia as the guest of Russian President Vladimir Putin!
So,when the rich and the powerful make one caste what does it matter,you call it a caste or a class?
In the Indian context,it is only now beginning to take roots, namely, the new era of “rich and upper “castes and classes into one social category.
There has never been a classless society nor a casteless society in history.Will there be one such utopian casteless and classless society is a moot question.It is for the thinkers and educators to draw the lines.The lines between what is possible and what not possible.
You have to modernise society on casteless and classless basis.Fine sentiment.But you also have to be “scientific” minded, have an open and inquiring mind to see what is possible and how society is evolving. Already we are witnessing an economic growth that is effecting a growing division between the super rich at the top and the deprived classes at the botton heap. So,what to do?Or,better what still a more truthful way to talk about this growing social and economic phenomenon?
In all these times and historical changes societies have further evolved.Besides,social scientists and thinkers are the writers and artists and they had brought their own visions, pessimism, optimism, Existentialism and now?
As for society,it is now evolving in the Indian context in a new and unprecedented ways. So a new way of looking at social and cultural changes are called for. May be our present political policies are superficial reflections on a more deeper and fundamental structural changes in society. Anyway,there is an urgent need to have a deeper look at this subject.
Only if you have the fullest knowledge and a foresight and a deeper understanding of how history has evolved, then, you will realise,there is some truth that it is all one of having a wholesome view of history,a sort of new historicism,yes,societies evolve in their own ways in spite of our wishes otherwise.There are historical cycles, civilisational cycles.