The need for caste


The more one observes people – and maybe this pertains specifically to my country of birth – the more obvious it seems that there has to be a caste system of some sort. Nobody is perfect, but I look around at people, of births high and low, and the things that they do, and it becomes an abominable thought to me to consider them fellow humans.

The new caste would not be based on birth or the color of one’s skin, however, but through a division based on a man’s thoughts and his actions, as was originally intended in this land. The ascent through such a caste system and the rights that come along with it would have to be earned, not as a one-off entrance examination but piecemeal, as an ongoing process throughout one’s life, at least up to a certain age. The parameters on which such judgments are made would be decided in due time.

If that seems like too much of a chore, it’s because it is. And if it it seems like an open invitation to fudging bureaucracy, it’s probably because it is that also, but how much worse than things already are today? Filing tax returns every year is an equally odious task but it has to be done anyway to avoid being hauled up for evasion. A man’s rights give him control over his destiny and are by far the most precious things he can inconvenience himself over. By having him constantly strive for his rights, there would be a perpetually upward movement in society, not akin to the historical grab for material wealth but for securing those things that separate him from the animals. Those that succeed will avail of their benefits, those that don’t will sink to the bottom. But not without hope, for their rejection won’t be terminal, merely an indictment of their lack of self-respect at that time in their life.

Quite possibly the opprobrium I reserve for others will be leveled at me from elsewhere, but that is precisely the point; everybody gets a free ride in the absence of an overarching framework of core values just because they belong to the same species. Look at your Facebook friend list and know that all of your contacts get to have a say in the kind of government that presides over you. Reproduce this same situation a million times over, all across the country, and apply it to the various strata of humanity that reside within. Then look in the mirror and tell yourself that this state of affairs makes any sense.

The shortcomings of democracy are well documented and are washed off one’s hands by the platitude of it being the best of a bad lot. But over time these platitudes have shed their inherently apologetic character and have come to assume something resembling the certainty of fact, granting an unimpeachability to the democratic ideal. The complacency resulting from this self-fulfilling prophecy, in turn, has led to the abandonment of the search for an alternate system. A superpower talks of spreading democracy to the great unwashed of the world, and nobody so much as wafts at the stench of bullshit inherent in (a) the presumptuous touting of a flawed idea as virtue, and (b) the shameful miscarriage of the flawed idea that said superpower has indulged in for so long.

Countries, especially ones with far older cultures than those promoting a universal standard, need to figure out their own way of doing things, reaching back into their past for inspiration and tallying it with their present.

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4 Responses to The need for caste

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had this argument often with non-Indian’s when they’ve been so generous with critiquing the flaws and cruelty of the ‘evil’ caste system and my main point in it’s defense was that it created a system of socio-economic support within each level. The biggest flaw perhaps was the inability to choose your caste.

    What you’re describing though, reminded me immediately of what a well run large corporation with a commitment to a high level of ethics, intends to be. Wouldn’t one have the same issues then, where a few people that are aware of their limitations or simply too lazy to put in the effort to earn benefits in the ‘correct’ manner, resort to unethical means (at worst case) or ‘work the system’ (at best case), to access better benefits?

    How are we then to avoid this in a rights-based caste system?

    • deckard cain says:

      Caste system as it exists in our country is a shame. My own kin has had to face it at one point of time or the other. These experiences either cloud or give clarity to your worldview. But Devdutt, what you’ve envisioned is indeed interesting.”.. having him constantly strive for his rights, there would be a perpetually upward movement in society, not akin to the historical grab for material wealth but for securing those things that separate him from the animals. ” A system where a non-materialist/philosophical/knowledge approach decides the position of an ‘individual’ . More importantly the ‘individual’ suffers and not the entire kin for his/her faults. And yet again when it comes to the individual, the ever so cliched, ‘human nature’ comes into the picture which then later manifests into a group behavior phenomenon. This will eventually pull down the very ideal that it purports to adhere to.

      • The answers to your questions would warrant something far more intensive than a blog post. I have only the roughest sketches and those too an obvious syncretism between ancient India and Plato’s Republic, the latter himself quite possibly influenced by eastern thought.

  2. Pingback: What, after the fall? | Old Disgruntled Bastard

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