Caste as a social class is associated with the patterns of ‘domination and sub-ordination’, in the day-to-day activities. With the changing discourse of society, caste also acts dynamically by modifying its communication patterns of ‘domination and sub-ordination’. The modern phase of the Indian History, especially starting with the East India Company Rule or later takeover of administration by the British Crown, etc brought sea changes in different ways in caste communication patterns.
The traditional subordination of the lower castes to the upper castes started to take little changes, due to conversion to various other religions like Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. But, such variations in the communication patterns were not drastic. If at all there were any deviation from the regular patterns of showing subordination to the upper castes by the lower castes, due to any unfavorable factors, there seems to be local resistance from the upper castes and lower castes have to face the consequences, if the situation degraded!!
With the advent of British rule in India, the patterns of ‘domination and subordination’ underwent further sea changes. Some of the Indian upper castes started to show their subordination to the British rulers, as a mark of recognition of their supremacy!! This it-self is a drastic change in the entire history of India. This communication break-up had further consequences in the decades to the come in various forms.
The Brahmins started to associate with the British for assisting them in various forms, like for acting as translators, etc!! The Kshatriyas slowly started to recognize the political hegemony of the British. The administrative changes of the British rule had profound impact on the social, political and economic patterns of the Indian society. Such changes also occurred even within some of the Princely States!! All such factors and more had profound impact on the changing patterns of ‘caste and communication’ in one way or the other. The introduction of secular and universal adult education and social reforms in various forms had further impact on the caste and communication patterns. In all such, the forms of ‘domination and sub-ordination’ started to re-modify their expressions, in-order to suit to the changing societal conditions.
Some of the instances of heinous forms of subordination of the lower castes to the upper castes are no longer visible!! But, subordination took other forms of expression. In this present post, I wish to bring-out some of the instances of the lower castes sub-ordination patterns towards the upper castes, which I had observed over the years with keen interest!!
I had closely observed a lower caste person who got admission for a graduation course at a Catholic Christian minority educational institution. In-fact, most of the persons who associate with Catholic Christian educational institutions, irrespective of their caste and religious background, as per my strong personal observation and as acknowledged by my peers at various points of time felt that expressing subordination to the Catholic priests is a must in various forms for the priests satisfaction and for personal beneficial of the students too!! Especially those who live in hostels in the Catholic Christian Educational institutions master the ways of expressing ‘modern forms of sub-ordination’ to the Priests, who also serves them as academic faculty!! Thus, there is a drastic change from traditional expression of sub-ordination to the modern form of sub-ordination expression, and the subjects are very happy to master the same!! There exists also varying degrees of variations of expressing sub-ordination by both the upper-caste and lower-caste students, when observed further closely.
In the political realm; the competitive political polarization is bringing new forms of expressing sub-ordination by the lower castes. Almost all the political parties are headed by the upper castes and as per the constitutional and legal provisions – reservation is required to be followed while fielding candidates to the various electoral constituencies!! The Indian political realm started to shift from single political party domination (i.e. Indian National Congress) to multi party system in almost all the states!! This political polarization is providing options to the lower sections to shift their sub-ordination from one political leader or political party to the other/s according to the changing political situations!! As per my personal observation lower sections are very happy for this open option/s!!
In the market realm – the triumph of capitalism is taking place. Capitalism requires co-option of various sections/persons as per its requirements depending upon changing requirements. The capitalist forces started to exploit the lower sections (especially) by presenting them little forward mobility. But, the lower sections are happy to have such forward in their lives when compared to their traditional sub-ordination!! Due to the triumph of capitalism the sub-ordination space and requirements of the lower sections too started to under-go drastic changes!!
On the whole caste is traditionally opposed to the notions of ‘equality’ in both theory and practice. But, its success lies in its adjustment according to the changing social, political and economic conditions. The perpetuation of the upper castes from their traditional position to the modern capitalist, etc forms is requiring to adjust their ways of domination towards their fellow lower sections!! And, the lower sections are happy to escape from the traditional clutches of sub-ordination patterns and invent or adopt modern forms of expressing sub-ordination.