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Casteist and Casteless: A Theoretical Dilemma to be Solved

Mr Ragesh A. V., PhD Scholar, Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad, Telangana, India


The current academic discussions on caste have often made an impression that “caste as such” does not exist in the present Indian society as it has become an outmoded and divisive political issue. There are two direct reasons often raised for such bewilderment in the front: the first one asserts caste is an old question and, therefore, should be seen as a social evil of the past; the second one, following it, maintains that the current debate of caste is a call for being conservativism and non-progressive. The former, on the one hand, illustrates that since caste has been changed and diluted, analysing it in the old theoretical connotations is obsolescent; whereas, on the other hand, the latter emphasises discussing caste in the existing terminology ends up rigidifying caste than annihilating. The continuous objection these two questions concurrently makes indicates that the ongoing caste debates are retrogressive and misleading. It eventually made an impression that caste as a significant socio-political issue, which has had notable theoretical importance, is worthless in the contemporary Indian socio-political realm and the ongoing academic discussions. Though this current trend has not rejected caste as a significant socio-political issue vehemently, it claims the socio-political prominence caste has had is reduced. To put it another way, there has been an evident theoretical transition to be noted from caste as an “unavoidable” socio-political issue to merely “one of the significant” socio-political problems in the current academic confrontations. For these two reasons, two asymmetrical, or rather the contrary, theoretical positions have been constructed dealing with the caste in the current academic arena, namely, “casteless” and “casteist”. The former advocates that caste is drastically flawed through social reformations and historical changes, and thereby, Indian society is progressed from the rigidity of “caste ignominies”. It also maintains we, in the current Indian society, have reached relatively and considerably a state of “casteless society”. It, therefore, claims that since the current discussion of caste is negligent to the reformations that happened in India, current theoretical tools are insufficient to unearth the complexities of caste. For this reason, it pushes its allegation further by arguing current discussion of caste only appears to be against caste but, in reality, tends to be its perpetrator. It has interestingly termed the existing intellectuals, who are “unsurprisingly” Dalit thinkers, as “casteist”. Therefore, elucidating the theoretical dilemma between casteist and casteless has become a theoretical necessity in the current discussion of caste.

Keywords: caste, casteist, casteless, dalit, annihilation of caste

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