Democracy hasn’t eradicated the country's caste system. It has entrenched and modernised itby Arundhati Roy / November 13, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
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My father was a Hindu, a Brahmo. I never met him until I was an adult. I grew up with my mother in a Syrian Christian family in Ayemenem, a small village in communist-ruled Kerala in southwest India. And yet all around me were the fissures and cracks of caste. Ayemenem had its own separate “Paraiyan” church where “Paraiyan” priests preached to an “Untouchable” congregation. Caste was implied in people’s names, in the way people referred to each other, in the work they did, in the clothes they wore, in the marriages that were arranged, in the language they spoke. Even so, I never encountered the notion of caste in a single school textbook. It was reading Annihilation of Caste, a 1936 lecture by the Indian writer and thinker BR Ambedkar, that alerted me to a gaping hole in our pedagogical universe. Reading him also made it clear why that hole exists and why it will continue to exist until Indian society undergoes radical, revolutionary change.
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