A school kid who can’t or wouldn’t declare his/her caste affiliation can fill in ‘Indian’ on the relevant dotted line, in the school admission form. Karnataka primary education minister, Mr Basavaraj Horatti is reported to have so announced in the state legislature. Let’s pray the minister sticks to his stand. He would have brought more cheer had he used the word ‘human’, instead of ‘Indian’, a term which in its commonly accepted sense, refers to nationality rather than caste. To be a human is to belong to one of the two universal castes, the other one being the caste of war-mongers.
In a sense, the minister’s choice of word is apt in our national context. For the word ‘Indian’ denotes a sense of solidarity that cuts across the regional and linguistic divides. Mr Horatti, however, made the statement in the context of nine Mysore school children who were denied transfer certificates because they had not mentioned their caste in their application for TC.
If the media has got the minister right, Mr Horatti is quoted as saying, “Any child not willing to or who cannot divulge his caste can, simply, write ‘indian’” (Deccan Herald, July 5). The statement opens out refreshing possibilities. Public spirited parents with pre-school children can now test the govt. intention, and break out of the castes-line by declaring their children’s caste as , simply, ‘Indian’, at the time of school admission.
Such concerted move would hold out a semblance of hope for India to become a casteless society in the generation after next. I use the term - semblance of hope - because a majority of us have a vested interest in highlighting our caste affiliation under the quota system. In the ultimate analysis we can become truly casteless only when the quota system goes away, and the caste clause is scrapped from all official forms, altogether.