About forty women squatted in small clusters on the floor in the room. They were together at a special meeting of the
self-help groups led by their supervisor. The poor women, whose husbands were marginal farmers, depended on the loans they could get from the banks through their groups.
The meeting was closed as Mangala, supervisor and coordinator of the project of Boruka Charities, thanked the participants. Mar
Mahadeva Swamy, her assistant, got up to distribute tea and biscuits, a group of women apologized to themselves and left, without
have any refreshments.
The women, who were either of them Vokkaligas, Lingayats, Kurubas or Gollas, they also considered themselves
“upper” to accept food or beverages offered by Swamy, belonging to Scheduled Caste.
The people of Madapura, a village in the T.Narsipur taluk near Mysore in Karnataka State in India, do not
their counterparts elsewhere in the country. People don’t wear the twists on their sleeves; but it is there for everyone
mind all the time.
The event of the women in the upper class kicked off the stage for some lively discussion on chaste-based discrimination.
“If we distribute the food packets, they won’t take it. That’s why a madam (Mangala) usually asks someone from the upper caste to distribute them,” Kantamani laughed sadly, “then they accept it and it doesn’t happen. it is for them that some of us may have prepared them. “
Even the government schools in the villages did not practice equality. For the government-sponsored mid-day meals, only chefs belonging to the upper caste are employed. “My son has grown a lot. He now refuses to eat at school, since they sit the students in different rows based on their complexities,” Lakshmi complained.
Parvati said if she had to give something to those from the upper caste, she would have to keep it on the ground. They had to
stand at a safe distance while talking to them. If she first collected water from the boulder well, the upper twigs cleaned the ‘contaminated’ area with cow manure, before proceeding to draw water. “The water comes from the same ground. How does it
question? “she asked shrewdly. Mangala said,” They are an ignorant class. Not you. “
“If we ever ask for water, they will not put it in a glass. We will be asked to cup our hands and pour water into it,” Lakshmi said.
“When we travel in buses, they may be forced to sit next to us. Sometimes they stay upright so that they do not sit close to us.
they sit close to us unknowingly, some of them go home and take a bath, “Puttalakshmi said,” that’s why we never reveal our
castes, if a stranger asks us. “
“We can go to the temple, but not inside the sanctum sanctorum like them,” continued Puttalakshmi, “People from others
villages can enter even if they belong to a Scheduled Caste, as no one knows who they are. “
I suggest she should be naughty and enter, but Puttalaksmi says the temple authorities threatened fines on them. People
from other villages whose customs may not have been known; but she did, so she should not purposefully break the rules, the priests would reason.
Santamma, quiet for a lifetime, said sympathetically, “We all have it karma. If we start breaking rules, no matter how small they are, we will be contradicting each other in groups. Instead of shedding blood, what use will it be? “
His fears were justified. Vokkaligas or Lingayats were usually landowners and had too terrible a political influence for the scheduled caste worker they hired to protest.
There is another reason they do not object. They see nothing wrong with it, except when they are happy. They believe
that each caste has its own ‘shastra‘or the code of conduct and the upper caste people are just following their’shastra‘. They also believe that deeds done in their previous birth depend on the station they currently have in life.
One of the interesting comments came from Puttalakshmi who said she would not consider sitting with a woman off Jadumali
or Madiga, the caste to which the scavengers belong. She belonged to a higher caste and would never associate with them. In fact, the half-dozen self-help groups in the room did not have a single member of these ‘outbreaks’. Mangala said the ‘untouchables’ created their own groups.
The groups had never discussed caste discrimination earlier. Mangala, who was worried that her job was a project
the coordinator should not come under a cloud to “encourage” closure, he reminded the group that they should “delete” them from their minds
whatever was discussed at the meeting.
If social reforms do not keep up with the provisions of law, caste discrimination will continue to survive. The media does not
care, unless a sensational story gets its attention. Even welfare organizations wink at him; for who wants to tilt
a carefully stacked apple cart?
Prejudices that go back at least 3,000 years cannot be easily erased. Especially when it is sanctified by religion, glorified by tradition, and stuck by politicians to get votes.