Tuesday, April 03, 2007


A cross posting (edited) from a discussion in the casteless community in orkut:

Everything that's accumulated by means of capabilities will have a tendency to accumulate unevenly. Take the simple example of money. In a purely capitalistic society, even if we start with an initial condition of hypothetical fair competition, the more capable ones will soon march ahead of others. Then, when that generation passes away, they will always tend to bequeath their wealth to the people they consider as their offsprings, and heirs. Therefore, from the very next generation, people will start their lives (read 'races') from varying degrees of advantage. Over several generations, this difference will have a natural tendency to widen leading to plutocracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, and finally feudalism.
This is true for all valuable things : money, power, social status and even knowledge. Casteism is culmination of intellectual and social aristocracy.
Casteism exists in various disguises in our society. The evil of casteism is much deeper rooted than the archetypal 'casteism' that we usually talk about. Getting rid of casteism in a true sense would mean that people must bequeath their earnings and wealth (whether of currency, power, knowledge etc) to those they consider worthy heirs of it, not to those who are their natural offsprings.
Not at all easy because of many reasons. One hurdle is that we are hardwired to be biased to our biological offsprings. Not obeying that is hard. Not commenting about its rightness or wrongness. But each act done against the dictate of nature creates an added element of tension. We have still done many such things and have succeeded. I am hopeful even this can be achieved. But it's quite tough. Another hurdle is, doing so, it may have unpredictable consequences on social structures like family, which, otherwise have proven rather effective, and again come to us through our biology.
But as a good start, let's try and understand the problem of casteism and class-feelings in its entirety. Let's not hurry to promise to get rid of them.


Sambaran said...

I would like to underiline a few fundamental differences between knowledge and money.
First, money is more easier to transfer to a heir than knowledge. I daresay, even if you are willing to transfer knowledge, your heir may/may-not be able to properly receive it.
Second, it is easier to use money than knowledge if you 'receive' it as a part of inheritance.
Third, that old sanskrit shlok we studied in CBSE syllabus. 'vyaye kritey vardhate eva nityam'. You do not deprive your heir of knowledge even if you distribute it to lot many along with your heir.
The problem which might have been in historical indian hindu society is not the fact that people kept knowledge to their heirs. Possibly people took more care to see that 'others' do NOT get the knowledge.
I mentioned all these so that you treat knowledge-casteism and money-casteism separately. (Of course if you agree with my comments). I do believe there is more to come on this 'caste' topic from you. Looking forward to that.

neha mujumdar said...

hmm...will respond elaborately, sometime :)

Bharathraj G. N. said...

hehe i read an interesting theory somewhere, can't remember where, it goes like...

in general, the initial generations of a family pursue money actively, and when they have had enough of it.. the next generations focus more on power and control over the public.. the latter generations that follow; which are literally born with all the money and power, prefer to dissipate either in drunken revelry or philanthropy or in the various non-profitable arts and sciences :-)...

suppose, every child starts ab initio, i.e. they will all get education/training/medical-aids according to their actual (dis)abilities... without getting affected by the money/power/status of their families.. and when anybody dies, all his personal fortunes get passed on to the society as a whole, rather than to their offsprings; would that affect the social fabric in any undesirable way?