Thursday, February 9, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Rahul gandhi says those who say caste doesnt matter, haven't been to UP

Seeking a true game changer
Sunetra Choudhury
February 4, 10:30 IST

You seriously don't know what caste you are or do you choose to ignore
it for ideological reasons?" I recently asked the man I have been
married to for almost a decade. It's not that I didn't know the answer
to that question, but it's just that seeing Sam Pitroda emerge as an
OBC icon for the Congress during the Uttar Pradesh elections had put
me in an incredulous mode. As I saw him standing there at a Lucknow
election meeting, releasing the Congress manifesto and reiterating the
hidden fact that he was from a backward caste of carpentars or barahi,
I wondered whether an entire generation of us had been fooled into
believing that caste doesn't matter.

I guess, like everything else, you can blame it on idealistic
parenting. Unlike my husband, my brother and I knew very well our
caste antecedents but it was only to embellish a very romantic story.
When we were growing up, my mother would love to tell us the story of
how my father's Brahmin family had some misgivings about his intention
to marry a Kayastha girl. She portrayed this James Dean kind of
character, but the truth is that it was nothing major and basically
meant that the family made some cursory noise and instead of having
the wedding at his parents' house, their reception was at his
sister's. And that was the end of the big fuss, but we were encouraged
by our mother to imagine a Hindi film scenario where my father waged a
caste battle to marry the woman of his choice.

That is the only reason caste entered our world view, and even though
we were both old enough to register the Mandal agitation, it never
became a tangible factor in either of our lives, or in those of our
friends. So when I wanted to get married to a man of indeterminate
caste, I was deprived of all drama by my parents. It was simply a

Till I thought about the entire thing this week. I thought about all
the rallies that I, on the Rahul Gandhi beat, had attended, and all
the speeches I had been forced to hear over and over again about
development and change and the new India that was emerging. I wondered
if there had been a subtext of caste that I had missed out on all
along and whether the talk of development was all a front. I knew that
Rahul Gandhi marked his entry into UP politics by visiting Dalit
homes, but it wasn't until the Sam Pitroda caste expose that I
realised how exploitative it was.


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