An Eye-Opener

A survey says that 70 per cent of the people employed in 1,783 public toilets in Delhi belong to upper castes including Brahmins

The government is leaving no stone unturned to implement caste-based reservations in the central educational institutions. But Fact India, a Delhi-based trust and Youth For Equality (YFE) have made the shocking revelations that Brahmins and upper caste Hindus are doing menial jobs including cleaning toilets.

Their survey says that 70 per cent of the people employed in 1,783 public toilets in Delhi are upper caste Hindus including Brahmins. Ramesh Jha, a toilet cleaner in the Sulabh chain of pubic toilets in Delhi, said, “I have to feed my children so I am working here. I feel bad but I have to feed myself.”

Dhirendra, another toilet cleaner while showing his ‘janau’ (the sacred thread), said, “I can’t remove my janau. I clean all the dirty stuff wearing it. It is my compulsion to do such menial jobs to feed the family. My religion does not allow it. I feel ashamed.”

The ''Brahmins of India'' by J Radhakrishna, published by Chugh Publications, reveals that many purohits are living below the poverty line. The survey says that 50 per cent of the rickshaw pullers in New Delhi’s Patel Nagar are Brahmins.

It further says that 75 per cent of the domestic help and cooks in Andhra Pradesh are Brahmins. Seventy per cent of the Brahmins are still relying on their hereditary vocation. In the 5-18 year age group, 44 per cent Brahmin students stopped their education at the primary level and 36 per cent at the pre-matriculation level.

Gorakhnath Tiwari, registrar, Benaras Hindu University (BHU), said, “The reputation of Brahmins has declined about 30 to 40 per cent.”

According to the department of endowments statistics, when the government is concentrating all its energies and funds on the Minorities, Dalits and Other Backward Classes, there are thousands of Brahmin families who are surviving on just Rs 500 per month as priests in various temples. According to the census department studies in Tamil Nadu's Ranganathaswamy Temple, a priest's monthly salary is Rs.500 and a daily allowance of one measure of rice. The government staff at the same temples receives Rs 2,500 plus per month.

“This is very sad when the government is professing caste-based reservation, many upper caste people are finding is difficult to survive. This fact motivated us to conduct the survey on what exactly the situation in India is. Only nine seats out of the 600 in the UP and Bihar assemblies are held by Brahmins ­ the rest are in the hands of the Yadavs. Around 400,000 Brahmins of the Kashmir valley have been living as refugees in their own country. What about them? Would they be given reservation?” Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra, president, AIIMS chapter, YFE said.

Kashinath, coordinator, Sulabh chain of public toilets, said, “ It is fine that backwards need uplift, but why are the forwards being made backward.”

“Yes, we do know that Brahmins and other upper castes had exploited the lower castes in the past, forgetting that in its pristine form their duties were based on earned merits, not on hereditary rights. They may today be getting back a taste of their own medicine. But can we let this cynical government divide more and more along caste and religion lines?” Francois Gautier, from FACT India, said.

Today, many Brahmins and other upper castes may be as underprivileged as dalits. A research paper by D Narayana, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvanantpuram ("Perception, Poverty and Health, Feb. 2005), shows that 69.8 per cent of Brahmins and OUC never went past the 12th standard, Some 52.4 per cent of Brahmins and OUC farmers don't own enough land to feed their family. It also says that 53.9 per cent of the upper caste population is below the poverty line.

Radhey Shyam Mishra, a coolie at the New Delhi Railway station, said, “No one respects Brahmins nowadays. The poor Brahmin won’t get any financial help from the government. There was a time when Brahmins were worshiped. That time is no more now.”

“I am a widow with five children. Though I got my husband’s job of a gardener on compassionate grounds, I cannot survive on a little sum of Rs 1500, so I am cleaning floors and utensils. At times I feel like hanging myself from the fan that I am a Brahmin and am doing such work. My villagers would ostracize me if they come to know about it,” Savitri Shukla, a domestic helper in Lucknow, said.

Hmm...just read this piece of news on Sahara Time and I realised, Neetu Chandra actually voiced the very thought that had been in my mind for quite some time. It's been quite some time now that the reservation system for the so-called back classes of our society are on. It's great that our government works hard to uplift the needy. But the problem is, how to identify them? Is it very necessary to categorize the citizens according to the caste? Doncha think categorizing them financially is more appropriate? Well, if India continues to have reservation system as per caste, we know what we are heading to!

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