It hardly takes them half an hour into any discussion concerning indian society to come crashing down on ‘reservation’. It is not unlikely for people to relate all societal problems to one-or a few- problem(s)/ pet theor(y/ies). For me, it could be caste.
For them, Caste is passe. That is no longer a problem, the problem of course is ‘reservation’. All problems radiate from ‘reservation’ playing it out through ‘vote bank politics’. Wait! What is more pervasive-Caste or Reservation? Which one is consequence, a much fought for one? Why would they skip such an important step-caste- in their logic?
If they were honest enough, they would says caste was never a problem. Not for them. Almost like I do, “I don’t have any problem with reservation”. How could something that confers advantage would ever be a problem?
But being honest is not easy. Neither it is required. With caste being universally derided and casteism being condemned. Well almost! That leaves them looked down as primitive and banal, and among the minority, if they honestly admitted advantages that caste provided. Not that they have to. The (dis)advantage of caste sips through without your knowledge, but sure, you can churn it, or if you are a careless dalit, stir it. There is little difference between a careless dalit and a conscious one though, when it comes to stirring caste. Call it ‘dalit courage’. Like dutch courage, it is almost involuntary.
I am ideologically predisposed to look how caste plays out in gestures, events, policies even movements. There are many like me. Often words like ‘victimhood’ are wielded against us for our inklings, the meaning of which I haven’t fully comprehended. Is it only fresh wound or a mark from history? But I always wondered if I was falling prey to one-size(theory)-fits-all. When I encounter people from ideologically opposite spectrum and they conclude ‘reservation’ is the root of the problem, and of course ‘vote bank politics’, I find new proofs for my theory. That it is ‘caste’ which is the problem, and it is ‘reservation’ they feel, which has turn caste against them.
(And they find proof for their theory too, I guess.)