I woke up this morning and have not been able to stop from feeling miserable both in my soul and in my spirit after reading this news story. In response, the below came pouring out.

Every day, every absolute single day
I wake up and think it could be me
I see the news and weep
It could still be me

But I know
It is me
It is you
It is everyone who fears ‘it could be me’

It is not my clothes
It is not my walk
It is not the time of day
But it is me

I want change
I want solutions
I don’t care about policy
I don’t care about policing

They say punish the guilty
Punish the guilty
I wonder
How big would the prison be that could hold all of society

Its not a few
Its not a hundred
It is all consuming
I see the news and weep

This video made me question a lot of things and I will try to coherently narrate them in the hope that some of you will comment on this. I believe that the experience with caste, religion are very different when you are growing up and that as an adult. The reasons are numerous but will save them for another day.

However, ever since I moved to the US, one of the questions I have most frequently been asked by my peers here is – is the 4-caste’s system still very prevalent in India? This video confirmed my unease with a yes/no answer to that question. It is impossible to give a yes/no answer. And an average attention span often is way shorter than the time taken to explain the complexity of the answer I may need to give to justify that response.

The reason I mention the age of an individual when you experience caste/religion is because for me it has been that. I did not grow up in India. So when I returned to India as a teenager and started working in the social development field, my understanding of history, caste system, social construct, rich-poor divide has been key in my decisions to work with marginalized communities. Just as it is hard for people to imagine a ‘South in the North’ it is equally hard acknowledging the fate of the ‘poor’ within the Brahmin caste, otherwise synonymous with wealth, knowledge and plain well-to-do. So is there a caste divide in India? My answer is : there is a “rich-poor” caste in India and the traditional caste system plays into it depending on which side you are from!

Scenario1: Being poor is my primary identity and – if I happen to be a Brahmin then the caste system has not helped me in anyway to remain rich today, if I happen to be a Dalit then the caste system exists. Scenario2: Being rich is my primary identity and – if I happen to be a Dalit then the caste system has been reversed for the first time making me an equal, if I happen to be a Brahmin then the caste system has continued to keep my supreme status intact.

So you tell me, what kind of caste system exists in India?

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