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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5703/how-not-to-dismantle-the-caste-system/

How Not To Dismantle the Caste System

October 2, 2006 by

The Indian state has embarked on a campaign to eliminate the caste system by coercing people into associations that they might not otherwise choose. Jayant Bhandari writes that this way will lead to more hatred, social division, and unpredictable disasters. There is only one kind of equality that should be celebrated in a free society, that is, equality before the law, or what Roderick Long calls more broadly “equality of authority.” That kind of equality is exercised through free association. FULL ARTICLE

{ 29 comments }

Roger M October 2, 2006 at 10:47 am

Thanks for the honest portrayal of Indian society. As for suggestions for helping the poor in India and elsewhere, it seems that one of the greatest needs is for decent banks in rural areas. From what I’ve read on development, advances in agricultural productivity do the most to lift people out of poverty, but honest banks with decent rates of interest are needed so that farmers can borrow the money for needed equipment. Currently, most poor farmers are at the mercy of loan sharks who act like the mafia and who loan money at high rates in hopes that the borrower will default so the lender can take the borrower’s property. Also, insurance would help greatly.

Krishna van den Brule October 2, 2006 at 10:48 am

Ok. State harms people. But the cast system too. Why you dont say a word about that? Liberalism is not the keeping of the actual state of systems. Liberalism is changing a unsatisfactory situation too. Maybe not by the power of coercion of the state but by influencing the public opinion. You seem too satisfy with the caste system. Is the firts time in feel uneasy with Mises Org.

N. Joseph Potts October 2, 2006 at 10:51 am

This dowry is (yet another) playground for manipulation. For example: will there be some sort of lifetime limit on the number of times a given person (I suppose each of the 990 million Indians has a unique governmental identifier) may collect this dowry? Would the limit be on the upper-caste or lower-caste partner?

What about non-Indians? OK, that’s simple enough in this day of required citizenship, but what about naturalized Indians? Is (or will) there such thing as castelessness? Is that like statelessness?

I hope all these dowries (there will be many of them – more than budgeted) don’t put any strain on the exchequer.

This is a real beauty of an example of social engineering. Thanks for making it known to us.

Is it any harder to become an Untouchable than it is to become a citizen of India?

Francisco Torres October 2, 2006 at 12:25 pm

Ok. State harms people. But the cast system too. Why you dont say a word about that?

Because the focus of the article is not about the cast system, but government intervention.


Liberalism is not the keeping of the actual state of systems. Liberalism is changing a unsatisfactory situation too. Maybe not by the power of coercion of the state but by influencing the public opinion. You seem too satisfy with the caste system. Is the firts time in feel uneasy with Mises Org.

I read the same piece as you, yet I did not see any intention from Mr. Bhandari to keep the cast system or that he was satisfied with it. He merely indicated the problem with making people coexist with others by coercion and imposition. Such measures can only lead to a greater chasm between the different casts and not one smaller. It is the same with affirmative action – it created even more animosity between people of different “races”, instead of making them closer.

How do you solve a problem that is deep-rooted in tradition? You are right that the public needs to have their views changed, but that can come through a mixture of grass-roots efforts and open commerce.

jai October 2, 2006 at 1:19 pm

It all depends which side you stood. It is shame that still some so called self-made intellectuals try to justify such type of racism. Caste system is a shame and it will always be a shame, no matter which angle you look into.

Amit Dhir October 2, 2006 at 1:45 pm

All I can say is ” A very shallow Article”. Why I am concerned about it is, as an individual because of his colored experiences and thoughts is presenting a totally wrong perspective in front of international community. Some of the posts below by intenational members indicates toward that only.

I can understand that money as an incentive to marriage itself is a stupid concept, but the grounds on which it has been tackeled in this article is really demeaning toward a particular section of the society.

I work in USA in an MNC and I belong to the SC community of India. My parents gave me good education and yeah till my 12th I never even realized that I am an SC.

When I had to apply for engineering, my parents told me that we have a reservation which can get me a good seat. I was not ready to accept that I need some reservation to getinto a good engineering college. But somehow due to the pressure of my family I got admitted to an engineering college with reservation. I got 90% of what a general candidate required for admission into that college and it was never 10% or -ve. ( Yes, we all have heard some stories of people getting into medical colleges in early 90s with 0 or -ve marks, but those are over blown single cases from past, thanks to media and people like Bhandari these things are still very much in the news)

Because of my reservation status I was never proud of my achievements of getting into an engineering college. I always argued with my parents that if I have got a good education then why I need a tag of reservation and probably it is an injustice to general candidates who were there with me in school. They alwyas said that I will learn on my own on why it was a right decision.

I did well in my engineering, without many people even realizing or coming to know that I am an SC, just because I was good in studies. I never revealed it to anybody that I belong to SC community because I was in no way different from them and not wanted to loose my friends over this issue.

Any way but there were students probably from weaker sections and villages who also got an admission probably with 60% of marks as that of an General. Yes many of those students, with very few general studenst were always in the bottom of the class and even in the group of friends, who never knew that I am an SC we always discusses and concluded that whoever is there at the bottom of the class is an SC.

As far as I am concerned I was living a dual life, as I could understand the pain of those SC or ST students and was getting the point of view of General students as well.

Some of my cousins were actually brave and they didn’t took the advantage of reservation and carved their destiny as generals.

As I could understand from the Generals they wre of two types one who really hated SCs/STs and were not at all sympethetic for where they are coming from, and second who tried to understand the rationale bhind reservation but were still against it as they, like me never considered it as the permanent solution.

After reading Mr. Bhandaris article I would put him in category one. See there are always snobbish peopel who will hate people who are poor, dirty, backward and we all have to live with them and their mentality. these popel always think that nobody below you is even worth looking.

Any way my reply/ which I guess by now is even bigger than the blog is not to blame people like Mr. Bhandari but to give the clear perspective of the issue.

So coming back to the issue, I always think that if people like me who are the prime most allergies of first kind of generals because we are getting success taking advantage of the reservation, stops going through the reservation cycle to give a way to the really weaker section then they will again get the chance to point out the alleged “dumbness of SCs and STs”.

I dont know what is the solution of this issue how will we ever able to solve it, as of me I have escaped that society and have setteled down in USA. But definitely that is an escpist route which can be helpful to individuals but not for the society.

In USA many of the popele are tsill racist but majority of them have accepted black, and we can see black grls with white guys an dvice versa. But in India I constrained my self from even falling in love as I was an SC and I had to ask a grl “are u an SC?” before even getting into a relationship. In USA I have seen peopel actually giving a way to the generation of mixes who are practically now dilluting the difference sof Race and color. But when ever I see so much of hate in an General, who has come to Canada and setteled down then it hurts me like hell as it gives an inidcation that probably we will never be bale to think beyond castism.

I have seen many general people sticking with me as friends even afetr getting to know that I am an SC and I really love those people. These peopel are rational they know about the castism and on wht grounds reservation came into existance and probably it has been exploited by some of the politicians and has hardly deliverd the way it was meant to be.

I am confused about the solution because even I am aware about number of cases (contrary to Mr Bhandaris facts) in which at higher level if your boss is some category one general, they just stops promoting you nomatter how good you are.

And about the police complaints which my friend Mr Bhandari was afraid about (an SC compalining that he has been discriminated, only if that would had been implemented and complained properly 40% of generals would had been facing charges against tehmselves), I know of the case in which SC womens who have gone to police station to replort a moolestation cases has been raped by general policemans itself.

But that doesnt mean that I start pointing toward all the discriminatory comments I have faces in my life from some of the castiest, we need to bridge thsi gap somehow…may be money is not the right way, but reformation and liberalization of minds is..

I am telling you the best kind of divide which should exist in the society is on economic basis as it encourages individuals to do better to change their class….but with thsi cast you r tied till ur death.

Jason Trimble October 2, 2006 at 2:05 pm

Jayant Bhandari’s article is outstanding. It is full of truths and can be used to explain the numerous failures by the governments all over the world when they engage in social engineering. White flight was more than not wanting to live near people of color. It is explained much more by not wanting to live around people whose values, culture, and/or spirituality one finds unappealing or distasteful. There is still white flight, and there will always be, regardless of how much money is spent, or of how many laws are passed, or of how much political correctness there purports to be.
I particularly liked Francisco Torres’ comment. On the other hand, I believe Amit Dhir’s tirade added nothing to the issues of focus in the original article.

Krishna van den Brule October 2, 2006 at 2:36 pm

I agree with the conclusions of Bhandari against social egineering. But i smell some sort of racism/elitism in his article. Something like “lower casts (poor people in other countrys) must not complain. They have what they deserve”. I know the focus of the article is government intevention but i cant read anywhere that he is not a “conservative” of “old good situations”. If he really is a liberal he must admit that the social/state/economy structure of his country is builded for dominant caste. I dont believe that upper castes dont use the power of the state to continue in the status quo.

Jason Trimble October 2, 2006 at 3:06 pm

I guess some people just can’t never learn.

Chris Marshall October 2, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Krishna, you’ve not made a relevant comment.

It is plain to see that far from removing a system of privilege, the Indian Government is instituting a new system of privilege. That it runs in the oppposite direction to the old system is irrelevant, it is just as harmful.

I smell no racism in his article. How can it be racist to say that if people want something, they should earn it? How can it be racist to want equality before the law.

The notion that the article is racist is symptomatic of the idiotic view put by leftists that equality of all before the law is racist, and the granting of special privileges to certain groups is “non-discriminatory”.

Political correctness is truely plunging us into an Orwellian time.

The best thing for the Indian Government to do about the caste system is nothing whatsoever. It should not try to reengineer society, that will only sustain the caste system.

jai October 2, 2006 at 10:24 pm

It was better if the country would have been divided based on the caste system’s believers. All good people who are in favor of caste system could have stayed together in one country and the untouchables (Lower caste people and people against the caste system) in a separate country with a lot freedom and peace. There would have no problem of reservation, dismantled the Caste System. You guys would have kept your god, temple, religion, your caste, whatever you want. I think it would have been better.

Irene October 3, 2006 at 2:45 am

A very shallow article indeed. Shows people of lower castes in bad light. The author says some of his peers were stuck in his univ for more then a decade and some for twice as long. Which univ did he graduate from and when? Mind throwing some light on that. Wouldnt mind spending a day or two in checking if this really was the case or the author is just blowing things out of proportion.

Som October 3, 2006 at 3:11 am

Why are some people blogging here so quick to attack Bhadari as being a pro-caste racist. These ad-hominems are not welcome here and will not be taken seriously.

Bhandari criticizes the government that first supported the caste system in India, not just the “dowry”. Looking back in History, it took alot of government intervention over the past 400-500 years in India to create the caste system that oppressed so many, and Bhandari merely states that the government cannot enact a “reversal” type social intervention to better the situation.

It is much better to have racism and have equality with the law (equality in authority) rather than NO racism but inequality in authority. In the former situation, racism only prevents “discriminated” people from entering onto the racist’s property, and no, widespread racism would not create market forces that would have the “discriminated” people starve to death, as long as there is universal respect for private property and equality in authority. However, if there’s inequality in authority, it doesn’t matter what race you are, you’re right’s and life are in danger, and who cares if other people judge you by your skin color when you’re property just got taxed away completely for being wealthy?

And here’s another question for you “discrimination is the ultimate evil” lefties out there… why would captialism develop such a democratizing force such as the internet, or ebay, where it’s almost impossible to identify the race of your site viewers or buyers? I bet you wouldn’t have thought such a question would be asked by this pure Indian Punjabi-Hindu would you?

David October 3, 2006 at 4:00 am

Irene said ‘A very shallow article indeed. Shows people of lower castes in bad light’.

Methinks you missed the central point. that is, if there are impediments to free social association based on classes or groups, the solution is the removal of those impediments. Period. Inducement to force associations that would otherwise not have been chosen merely replaces one sort of wrong with another.

David October 3, 2006 at 4:00 am

Irene said ‘A very shallow article indeed. Shows people of lower castes in bad light’.

Methinks you missed the central point. that is, if there are impediments to free social association based on classes or groups, the solution is the removal of those impediments. Period. Inducement to force associations that would otherwise not have been chosen merely replaces one sort of wrong with another.

Aswani Kumar October 3, 2006 at 7:54 am

I thank you for the honest appraisal of the true Indian scenario.The state is making the caste system more complicated by providing reservation in every sector and further discriminating.The case by a lower caste person against a higher caste person is non bailable and is highly commendablle.Because the higher caste people almost made their(lower caste)existence threatening and life tough.
The state may start intiatives to probihit the lowering of aste system instead of still discriminating them by all means favourable/against them.

Aswani Kumar October 3, 2006 at 7:55 am

I thank you for the honest appraisal of the true Indian scenario.The state is making the caste system more complicated by providing reservation in every sector and further discriminating.The case by a lower caste person against a higher caste person is non bailable and is highly commendable.Because the higher caste people almost made their(lower caste)existence threatening and life tough.
The state may start intiatives to probihit the lowering of caste system instead of still discriminating them by all means favourable/against them.

Jayant Bhandari October 3, 2006 at 7:55 am

Irene:

I graduated from University of Indore. The situation is exactly the same all over the country, not only in this university.

As promised, I hope you will do your research and confirm the authenticity of my statements.

james October 3, 2006 at 9:47 am

Bhandri’s article spreads hate and racism in this civilized world. Rather being sympathetic towards this community he is try to justify the caste system. I belong to a general community and I never had problem. I have several friends belong to the untouchable community; They are not less intellectual or cultured other than community. I think we should stop spreading hate using this blog. We all human being we must pay what our ancestors been done in past. Matter of fact we are giving them only 18% share even only from last 60 years, AND THAT MUCH NOICE. How they have gone though from hundreds of year when our we kept them away from their even fundamental rights.

Francisco Torres October 3, 2006 at 11:07 am

Rather being sympathetic towards this community he is try to justify the caste system.

James, Mr. Bhandari is not justifying the caste system, he was indicating the problems of imposing quotas upon universities by government fiat. It is not that he believes the untouchables are generaly less cultured, but that by way of misguided policies, people of lesser skills get a place in a university because of their background, when instead they should be held to the same standards as everybody else.

He also indicates (correctly) that the dowry policy will only encourage people of lower castes to sell their girls to the highest bidder – so he can marry them and collect the dowry. After this, I am sure most of these girls will either be abandoned or murdered or sold into prostitution. Few of Mr. Bhandari’s critics have even placed their attention on this potential human disaster, focusing more on his trivial college anecdote.

Jayant Bhandari October 3, 2006 at 11:43 am

Francisco:

Thanks for your notes.

The irony is that a month back I wrote an article at Mises.org (titled, Should Coke be banned in India?) in which I mentioned how bad and demeaning the caste system in India is. All of those who find my present article “shallow” were missing at that time. On that occasion, I was blamed for showing that India HAD a caste system.

As you rightly say, my present article has absolutely nothing to do with justifying the caste sytem. I am merely showing how ugly state intervention is in this area. Nothing else.

But to respond to the comments on the blog…

I live in Vancouver (Canada). One thing I have learnt during these years is my utter revulsion for people who are sympethetic towards me for my being a non-white. I have always found that they are actually the most racist – they are sympethetic towards me because they think I am a lowly race.

The lower caste people in India are indeed tortured by the state and the higher caste. But the way out is not sympathy and alms, which is only making the situation worse.

I am NOT a higher caste Hindu, as a lot of people assumed. I did not mention this as I don’t think it matters.

james October 3, 2006 at 12:31 pm

Francisco;

Don’t you think 70% portion of his article is trying to prove that how stoop low the lower caste people are. It doesn’t matter which caste he belong, matters what his thought is. Jayant demonstrates his pain been lowly race against white people but he doesn’t feel how the lower caste people felt from his article. Are they not human being?

Irene October 3, 2006 at 12:44 pm

Well, Mr Bhandari, you forgot one tiny detail, the ‘when’ part. Once you give me that, I’ll do my research and confirm the authenticity of your statements or the lack of it.
Coming to the point, Castism and dowry, two evils of the society. The govt. thinks it can fight one with the other. I agree with you to the extent that this not the right way to go about bridging gaps. If anything this will only make the matter worse. But what I don’t like about the article is the way people of so called lower castes have been portrayed. And no, the situation is not exactly the same all across the country. I am an Indian though my name would suggest otherwise. Just because there are some cases where people of lower castes don’t stand up to the mark academically you don’t go about generalizing the same. It doesn’t mean all of them lack intellect. I have come across a case where a student of higher caste was asked to discontinue because he didn’t have enough credits to move on to the next semester. And when you say the situation is exactly the same all across the country, how many universities did you really check? You are just drawing conclusions from your own experiences in the university that you graduated from and that I am afraid is not a big enough sample space.
The “non-bailable arrest warrant even without evidence” part ? Come on, isnt that taking things a little too far ?
Your blog, as I see from the number of comments it draws, is read by a wide and diverse audience and all I ask for is a little more responsibility on your part when you address such issues.

Paul Marks October 3, 2006 at 1:01 pm

Someone who says “I will not shake your hand because you are from such and such a caste, or have no caste” is doing a very different thing from someone who says “I will cut off the hand of anyone from my caste who shakes your hand”. In the first case the person speaking is (by Western standards)unpleasant but is not violating the nonaggression principle, in the second case the person is a criminal.

Freedom of association must include freedom not to associate (something modern “civil rights law” seems unable to understand). And any “antidiscrimination” law leads to a quota system (something denied when such “civil rights” regulations come in). This is because it is not possible to get into the mind of an employer (or the person who runs a school of whatever) and see WHY they choose one person over another person – so, to enforce “antidiscrimination” regulations, sooner or later “there are X per cent of a certain sort of people in this area, so you must have X per cent of this sort of people here” comes in.

Quotas for certain sorts of people in certain positions came in India in about 1950 and they were supposed to go in a couple of decades – instead they have been extended and got more complex. And the present government (the Congress party in partnership with various leftist parties) plans to extend them further – for example by telling private school that they must include X per cent of certain sorts of children regardless of the ability of these children.

The idea that something that is privately owned is a private place (not a “public” place) seems to even more dead in Indian law than it is in American or British law.

These increasing regulations are matched by increasing government spending in India (the overall goverment deficit is already vastly bigger than in the United States – and America is at war). This “we will pay you to marry this sort of person” is just another example of mad spending.

A lot of people talk of India being one of the great economic powers of the 21st Century – if the present type of government continues this will not come to pass.

Curt Howland October 3, 2006 at 1:59 pm

Didn’t any of the nay-sayers notice that the abuses to which the writer is objecting are all _governmental_ abuses? The different entrance score requirements are _government_ policy, sadly echoed by the American “No Child Left Behind” idiocy.

Did the nay-sayers notice the statement about highly-regulated manufacturing? Gee, might that have _some_ impact on the ability for people to acquire capital goods (like a sewing machine or tractor) to improve their own condition?

“White Flight” took hold after the Fed.Gov began the welfare and other race-based programs of the Great Society and War On Poverty, even home schooling has a stigma of being a “white” phenomenon.

It is the so-called (by _government_) “minorities” that have the most to gain by the repeal of government interventions.

Francisco Torres October 3, 2006 at 3:55 pm

Don’t you think 70% portion of his article is trying to prove that how stoop low the lower caste people are.

James, I am sorry to tell you I did not. What I read was an article warning about a potentially disastrous government policy that may drive many young girls into bondage and maybe their murder, with also a good example of how the “kind hearted” government bureaucrats have failed the very same people they are trying to help. Mr. Bhandari’s opinion on people of lower castes, if he intended to show one at all, is totally besides the point.


It doesn’t matter which caste he belong, matters what his thought is. Jayant demonstrates his pain been lowly race against white people but he doesn’t feel how the lower caste people felt from his article. Are they not human being?

James, the focus of the article is how damaging government intervention becomes when “good intentions” substitute good sense. The most problematic issue is the potential disaster that this dowry program could become for young girls in India – few of Mr. Bhandari’s critics seems to focus on that. If any of us had to be careful not to offend any one in this world with what we wrote or say, we would be mute and silent all the time.

Vince Daliessio October 5, 2006 at 6:28 am

Irene, I don’t believe the author of the piece was trying to belittle or put down the poor students (in both senses) that were in his engineering classes forever, rather that he was simply pointing out that putting people into a university course simply because they have social or economic disadvantages makes absolutely no sense.

Societies with public (primary, secondary) education, as bad as it often is, go out of their way to group students of similar ability together to facilitate learning.

How strange then it is to throw unprepared students into what is supposed to be a rigorous course of engineering at university without so much as preparatory school, just because they have had social and economic advantages. This is a recipie for failure and the height of ignorant social engineering. Id does NOT help these people, as the author points out it often instead harms and disgraces them.

Juan February 5, 2007 at 10:43 am

What always amazes me about Indians is how they value education and personal progression, but yet they defend caste systems, intermarriage, and dowries.

Its the 21st century, “Wake Up People”. You walk around with a smug attitude and an intellectual superiority complex but you show how provincial you really are by defending these outdated concepts.

When people wake up and see its just about money, power and land they will realize that this is just made to divide those who have a right to the world’s resources. The ruling class which exists in every country uses the same techniques that Britain used to colonize India. Take the minority make them the ruling class and let the rest fight for the crumbs that fall to the floor.

senthil September 29, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Actually, the very idea of reservation itself is faulted.. reservation had so far only been a tunnel, where the people, started moving from caste based society in to a elite class of the western type.. Particularly, the SC’s and other BC’s who had come through reservation, changed their life style, and later, they disowned their own caste.. reservation here is a double failure.. it failed to uplift the SC caste, and it failed to give confidence to the educated persons..

But, as the media in india was mostly controlled by neo-liberalists and ideologists like marxists, there was no alternate views allowed.

Even now, if you tell some one that caste system is good, they will NOT ask “how?”.. rather, they will start abusing you..

The caste system would have collapsed long, if there were no reservations. Infact, it is the reservations, which made caste in to race, where each caste is forced to organise itself to demand something from the government..

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