The Caste-Jihad: From the ancient to the present – Part 4

Time for India’s leaders to make a bold decision to dismantle the caste system and associated reservation and underlying policies

Time for India’s leaders to make a bold decision to dismantle the caste system and associated reservation and underlying policies
Time for India’s leaders to make a bold decision to dismantle the caste system and associated reservation and underlying policies

The previous 3 parts of the article can be accessed here Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. This is the fourth part

India’s Reservation/ Quota System: Who benefitted?

Ambedkar, the prominent Dalit leader, worked diligently to have the Dalits treated with due respect like other human beings under the colonial-inspired caste system. However, the political climate and resistance from certain sections of the non-Dalit community at the time failed him and the nation. The next best things, as the key architect of India’s Constitution, Ambedkar was able to accomplish include:

  1. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  2. Abolition of untouchability.
  3. Reservation of seats for Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and other weaker sections of society.

However, the legal mandate did not equal the change of attitudes and heart by the people and the change has been gradual. While we can’t claim total abolition of untouchability and caste-based discrimination, both are significantly reduced even in the rural areas where almost two-third of India still resides. In fact, during my India visits, I have hardly heard about untouchability let alone the caste which still remains but not as a social barrier.

This article focuses on India’s Reservation system which Ambedkar, in his wisdom and justifiably, wanted for the upliftment and equal opportunities for primarily SC and ST. It should be noted that Dalits are included in the socially disadvantaged SC/ ST based on their family lineage. Ambedkar had sought the reservation only for 10 years which, unfortunately, continues to date and got expanded to include additional categories – the OBC (Other Backward Classes) in 1991 and EWS (Economically Weaker Section) in 2019 through constitutional amendments. Thus, the current reservation/ quota system equivalent of the Affirmative Action programs elsewhere stands as shown in Table[1].

This means that only about 40% of seats in government-supported higher education (such as IITs and IIMs), UPSC, and employment opportunities are available for other Varnas – the Brahmin, Vaishya, and some groups under Kshatriya. Together, they are now referred to as General Category (GC). While the quota system has decidedly uplifted the families belonging to the categories above but the corrupt politics of “vote-bank” has led to tremendous detriment of India and a “reverse” discrimination against the GCs. The vote bank practices have, in fact, eroded the social structure and played an increasingly dominant role in politics for the worse. But we are not here to discuss politics.

Dalit’s advantage:

Undeniably, Dalits (and other socially disadvantaged groups) needed to be educated, empowered and economically incentivized enabling them to successfully compete for the available opportunities as equals. In that, the government funds, scholarships, coaching opportunities, and other financial benefits were fair game until the boys/ girls from Dalit families were well endowed with the skills and tools for any competitive entrance test.

What went wrong?

It is the perpetual nature of the quota system, not the quota itself, that went wrong which was only envisioned to be for 10 years by Ambedkar. Another unjustifiable policy is admitting the Dalit students to, say, IITs with a considerably lower rank than those belonging to GC. With respect to perpetuality, it is grossly unfair that the son/ daughter of, say, an IAS officer continues to benefit from the quota system because of their birth in a Dalit family. This is what I call “jihad” of India’s corrupt political process affecting its own policy/ practices even 70 years since India’s Constitution. Consequently, the GCs continue to be sidelined at every step even when today’s SC, ST, and OBCs have attained social equality. The government policy must mandate the economic and social status of every Dalit aspirant if the quota system continues henceforth. Why a son/ daughter of a GC must be disadvantaged in comparison to that of a Dalit caste IAS?

Admittedly, the government owes Dalits the equality of status and opportunity in India but that does not warrant admission in IIT, as an example, with a lower rank in a competitive test. In fact, it has not served Dalits well if they are inadequately prepared to function in the highly rigorous curriculum at IIT, IIM, and similar high-profile institutions[2]. Likewise, their promotions in employment bypassing others with higher merit and years of service have created more resentment, unfairness, and caste-based divisiveness in society.

Irrespective of the caste, everyone must recognize, accept, and stop grudging about what is beyond one’s control such as their parents, family linage, where they are born, religion, and skin color. In the true spirit of equal opportunity for all, any caste-based quota must be eliminated. But, if necessary, need-based financial incentives such as scholarships and coaching may continue to offer a level playing field, especially for girls. Nevertheless, the perpetual reservation must end immediately.

Today, many well-educated and career-oriented Dalits and SC/ STs have rightfully made their way to the U.S. for further education and/ or to pursue a career of their choice. One would hope that every one of us, including me, would be grateful for the good education, skills, culture, and values inherited in India. Unfortunately, however, a group of Dalits of Indian origin in the U.S., aided by anti-India intellectuals, Islamists, Khalistan sympathizers, and most prominently the activists associated with Equality Labs, are claiming unfounded “caste-based” discrimination, an issue we will discuss in a series of articles starting the next one.

In conclusion, it is time that India’s leaders make a bold decision to dismantle the caste system and associated reservation and underlying policies. Instead, the policymakers should devise more equitable ways against social oppression and injustice against certain classes.

To be continued…

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.


[1] Reservation in India – Explained in Layman’s TermsFeb 03, 2020, ClearIAS

[2] Preamble to the Indian ConstitutionJan 02, 2019, ClearIAS

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Vijendra Agarwal, born in village Kota (Saharanpur, U.P), left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee. He is currently a member of project GNARUS, a syndicated service and writers collective. He and his wife co-founded a US-based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward better education and health of children, especially empowerment of girls. Vidya Gyan is a calling to give back to rural communities and keeping connected to his roots which gave him so much more. His passion for writing includes the interface of policy, politics, and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement.

Formerly, a researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he has widely travelled and came to the US in 1978. He was a faculty and academic administrator in several different universities in PA, TX, NJ, MN, WI, and NY, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during the Clinton administration.
Vijendra Agarwal


  1. Brahmins are the new Jews and are targeted by every Tom, Dick and Harry.Please note that the Brahmins preserved the knowledge in oral form for many ages.Many undeserving candidates of the other castes who do not know the basics of their work in government jobs are promoted in the name of social justice.And the the so called depressed classes are an entitled lot who think they are God’s gift on earth and are the centre of the Universe. Slavery,exploitation,untouchablity is present among the imperialistic Europeans.Brahmins are not begging for your respect by touching their or someone else’s feet.

  2. Thank you, Abhisek. The first sentence in the last paragraph says about “dismantling” the caste system. It is in fact sad if a 20-year-old Brahmin or from any other caste hesitates from touching the feet of an elderly. It is not the caste of this young man but his upbringing lacks something. In fact, getting blessings have no relation with our caste. I agree with you that Brahminical superiority has no place in modern India; temples should be open to all, and caste should not be part of anything; it can happen if the politicians stop “vote bank” politics. With respect to marriage, the younger generation has to take a bold step. On the other hand, there are distinct advantages of marrying in your own community because that makes the transition for the girl easier because the customs, traditions, food, etc. are likely similar.

  3. you didn’t talk abt dismanteling caste system… mutual respect.. a 20 yrs old brahmin kid won’t touch feet to take blessing from Rajput elder of 80yrs age.. let alone dalit.. Marriages are still done in same caste so caste purity can be maintianed… didn’t said anything abt that..
    I am a Rajput bt brahminical superiorty complex needs to go.. Open temple for all caste priest..


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