Sunday, May 7, 2017

Caste privilege "Made in India"


The shiny advertising slogans of "Make in India" tell the story of a modern India, a rapidly growing IT sector, the rising knowledge management industry, and the burgeoning private industry feeding India's growth story.

The convent-educated, MTV-watching, Nike-wearing twenty-something is the face of this new India.

Aspiring. With dreams of the Big Apple. The pulse of the nation's imagination.

Promising in his appeal as the digitally skilled workforce of the new India, the twenty-something presents the image of a global cosmopolitanism.

Technologically-savvy, social media-adept, YouTube-conversant.

The gloss of modernity is a well performed facade, however.

The Domino's, Levi's, and Coldplay obfuscate the casteism that pervades the everyday being of this twenty-something India.

Rituals of touch, codes of purity, and practices of boundary-marking define his inner life.

He follows the rituals spelt out by his parents. Participates in the customs of caste that mark his privilege. Talks down to the lower caste domestic worker who spoon-feeds him and does all his chores.

At school or at work, he makes casteist jokes.

He then turns around and bemoans how it is so difficult to be upper caste because the lower castes get all the quotas.

He complains how there is no such thing as casteism in India. How it is a Western ploy to orientalize India.



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