1. As debated by Dr. Kancha Illiah, can caste discrimination be equated to racial discrimination? 2. Can education be the panacea for social inequality in India? 3. What is the scope of globalization in overcoming caste barriers?
Dear friends, Me and some of my friends would like to know a certain thing : who was the high caste bengali student who didnt want a Dalit for a room mate. As far as we think, when someone chooses their room mate, what they see is if they can get along well with each other. Did anyone ask someone his/her caste while doing so? A reply will be appreciated. Thank you, Shukti
From the Editor: As far as we think, when someone chooses their room mate, what they see is if they can get along well with each other. Did anyone ask someone his/her caste while doing so? A reply: As far as the editors are concerned, we sincerely do not know of any such case where a bengali upper caste student refusing to share rooms with a Bengali Dalit student 'citing' (if one would really cite it) the particularity of caste differences. but that is definitely not a claim made in the survey report. let us take a look at was being claimed in the report: We share rooms with people whom we are comfortable with. That is definitely true. *But a survey of shared rooms in the 3 hostels indicates that in over 70% of the shared rooms, the roommates are of the same caste.* Though choice of roommate may be made on the basis of linguistic or religious or course wise uniformity, it remains a question whether a Bengali Higher caste student (to take one example) would share a room with another Bengali Dalit student. Cultural differences are significant in such choices but these differences might just preclude caste differences too. the example is clearly a hypothetical situation drawn up to explicate the point that among people who are obviously sharing rooms with people from the same linguistic community, there is a peculiarity of caste uniformity observed. again as we choose roommates with whom we are comfortable with or as shukti put it, we "get along well with", the 'comfort' or 'getting along well with' is definitely a quotient of our situated and historical realities. that would be why a Bengali student necessarily shares rooms with a Bengali student or majority of Arabic participants share rooms with each other. so much as we continue denying it presently, (and this is exactly what we were planning to counter when we claimed to attack caste neutrality in the journal) the claim made in the survey report was specifically addressed to the fact that the getting along well with is not as innocent as it seems. this yet again does not indicate a proliferation of caste considerations at the level of primary intentionality in choosing roommates. that was clearly not the point made and this does not require explication, it was more than obvious from the language. but the fact that our 'traditional' practices seem to be repeated even in our 'modern' setups requires serious analysis and thought if we are really to track caste or any other inequality in its real sites and contexts which seem to have a certain capacity of reiterability as is clear from our present conditions-there is no Dalit professor or 40%-50% of group D employees are Dalits. We ask the rest of the class if they really can think of any 'concrete' reason as to why such a huge majority of shared rooms in the university have people from the same caste? if the unconscious cannot be brought to test, criticism can hardly proceed after a point. that in itself is a difficult task. perhaps a few people we have read might help us to deal with this. We hope this is a satisfactory reply. we can off-course take the qustion to the next class and bring out the 'uglier' dimesions. we, the editors would be more than happy to respond and it also bears upon us to do so. Thanks, Geetanjali Ria Jimmy Ritam Asmita.
Thank you for the reply. If there is proper study to back up the statement, it is fine. I was just curious because many of the people I know here have roommates who are not from the same caste, or same linguistic or cultural community, and sometimes not from the same religion. But since the situation is hypothetical, I would like to state that it becomes a bit complicated for us to understand the statement without an explaination. Caste consciousness may be importatnt in some cases, but I think what really matters is a common course or a common language, or geographical proximity. Some of the people I know come from the same linguistic community yet have a huge difference in lifestyle and opinions. An M.A. english student will naturally look for an M.A. participant as a roommate. As for the case of Arabic, I think since most of them come from one particular religion, their roommates obviously will be Muslims. I guess what matters is the friends circle. Probably that is why not all people who belong to the same community hang out together. I understand that the aim of the survey was to say that "choosing a roommate is not an innocent phenomenon." But in order to genralize a hypothetical situation, I think other perspectives should also be considered. It is also important taht facts should be made available(cite specific examples, who stays with whom and what are their castes.) I think the survey/study should be made available to end such confusions. If we can have a look at it, it will help us to clarify. It is not a request from me but from many of my friends who find it difficult to agree with the claims. With specific examples, the claims can be justified. Thanks, Shukti