Casteism – the oldest social virus we need to eradicate  

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By: Zahid Mushtaq

We as a society have confronted so many diseases/viruses over the years and vanquished them, and I am sure by the grace of Almighty we will combat and recuperate from Covid-19 as well. But there is an invisible virus which has been eroding the happiness of our society for decades — that virus is casteism.

Once a common of among the Hindus in Kashmir, the evil has continued to haunt s even after the advent of Islam in Kashmir in the 14th century. This old evil has become the fundamental eligibility for marriages in Kashmir. Just by looking at the caste, people arrange marriages while sitting in their rooms without having a clue about the person’s character. Some people even force their children to marry on the basis of caste, which very often results in severe post-marriage repercussions.

The literacy rate in Kashmir is around 68 percent and we are still following the same evil customs of our grand ancestors. It is a shame. We should not stop at being only literate but we need to make ourselves educated. The readers should comprehend the difference between the two. A literate means when one can read and write; but being educated is not just about getting a degree and a job, it is about developing a vision to distinguish between the good and bad, to broaden the realm of your mind and eradicate the unnecessary notions and superstitions, to recognize the social evils and stand against them even if you have to stand alone.

If these developments are not visible in us and we are still following the same old illiterate theories, then it is just congratulations to us for getting a piece of paper from the university or a row added to our resume.

Islam never permits us to discriminate on the basis of caste. I believe Allah has personified all of us equals and never discerns on the basis of caste, colour, etc, but only on deeds. We should see each other as Allah sees us. They say “never judge a book by its cover”. I’d say “never Judge a person by his/her caste”. Even if a person is of low caste, it doesn’t matter, he/she can still be a good person, modest, decent, educated, helpful, generous, a good human being.

And if these qualities don’t impress you, then I don’t know what will. I have kept my caste hidden on purpose so that one may not think I am targeting a particular caste or community. I request every reader to abandon this evil of caste classifications forever. Give happiness a chance to touch the lives of your family. Depression and mental issues are taking our Kashmir by storm. No parents would like to see their children slip into these melancholic conditions by forcing them to marry the wrong person. Let’s open our minds to the new world where every human is alike and has no caste but only a name. If you cannot change the society, change yourself. Charity begins at home.

(Author is a Research Scholar at the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar. He can be reached at [email protected] / [email protected])



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