Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Hello Sheeba & A Short Note on India 's Caste System

Sheeba and Chandi saying Hi to each other.Chandi is the youngest member of our church

She also has a dog named Jacky. Her family takes good care of him, I see that when I visit them.

Sheeba is doing better. Her food intake increased today. She needs a bath , with all the dust flying around.

Today, on Day 7 the workmen gave the living room its first coat of paint and scrubbed the walls of the veranda and filled the cracks and fissures with putty , then smoothed the rough patches. It is a time consuming and laborious job. That 's another reason why people in India prefer to hire men to paint their homes. Painters belong to the lower economic class, and they are either ill-literate , semi literate., or school drop outs. Its good they find employment this way.These kind of people form a large part of our work force - people who perform daily mundane tasks, jobs which according to the caste system is reserved for the lower classes.. Sounds very bourgeoisie but its practical.This is a way the poorly educated people find means of livelihood.

I got interesting reactions from some of my readers about India 's caste system.

The caste system is an ancient Hindu legacy which has caused a lot of inequality, injustice and suffering over the centuries. There i s more on this Wikipedia LINK

It is completely banned and declared illegal by law. In fact the government has made considerable efforts to raise the status of the lower castes by providing job reservation, subsidised education ,health care, scholarships , cheaper food etc. Although this aid is riddled with faults ,controversies and corruption. At present the upliftment of Dalits ( underprivileged , backward classes)is a major issue politically. The Governor (Chief Minister) of my state is a Dalit woman, democratically elected.

The caste system is deeply embedded in the psyche and social milieu of our nation and it will take ages to completely get rid of it. But the Dalits are progressing and are taking pride in their identity. In fact if you can prove you are a Dalit, Scheduled Caste or Tribe or Backward Caste you can get special privileges.

On the other hand anyone who becomes a Christian loses his Caste status , although they retain their tribal identity.(A very controversial and complicated subject.) Christians don 't condone or practice the caste system. In fact the Christian world view and teaching acceptance of all men equal in the sight of God played a major role in the abolition of this degrading practice since colonial times.

Christians themselves were ( still are) considered low castes - worshiping a 'western god ' and eating meat etc. It was an anti colonial mindset too. Christians were clumped together with the British rulers.

Now after more than 60 years of Independence things have improved vastly but there is plenty of room for more.

With unemployment rampant, well educated or high caste Hindus etc. are vying for jobs which the lower class people used to do

In Ephesians chapter 2 , Paul likens believers to a building which God is constructing, whose cornerstone is Christ .

Ephesians 2

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

I wonder how the Master Builder is cementing us all together,cleaning, polishing and smoothing us applying pressure and heat to make us worthy bricks for His temple.

17 Fertilize my soul:

Shelley said...

Lovely post Amrita...blessings to you...Shelley

Zimbabwe said...

I know, that in 1948 caste system in India had been become illegal. I didn't know about any good sites of this. I read last time about churches, which build schools for children of the poorest people from the lowest casts in India. Will them something change in Your opinion?

Facing50Blog.com said...

Your sense of values and community is to be commended. I love the way you link your story and your quote....beautiful. Sheeba by the way is lovely.

Arts&Disability said...

Hi Amrita,

I am very challenged to try to understand this type of mindset or thinking.... which you have there.

We do not have a caste system in practice or tradition - in the US we just resort to being snobs, ignoring, and name calling.... as in they are just "Red Necks" ... & of course worse. It would be a little funny but the reality is that anyone at any point no matter if they were connected to great people or were once great themselves - if one "messes up" or is disabled - through their own fault or not - they are shunned here. Thank God for many programs & the ADA (Americans w/Disabilities Act) - and of course thank God for those in our Lord who understand & have kind hearts!

Beautiful Sheeba - and it is great the house is coming along! God Bless You!

Love in our Lord,
His Sonshine

Kathryn said...

Love the pic of Sheba saying "hi" to Chandi. :)

From my reading, it sounds like the caste system worked fairly well in India until the British got involved. I think anywhere on earth, even in the best system (one we haven't found yet!) that unfairness and disunity happens. Part of being a fallen world.

Not saying that we can't work to try and make things better, but sometimes we tend to get grand plans on how to "fix everything" and give up when the grand plans don't work. Forgetting that my neighbor might need a ride into town, or a friend might need food.

Hope the work goes apace and is soon finished for you.

I like the brightness of white rooms, also. Of course, most of our walls are the wood of which the house is made. But by having white walls, i can use whatever color i want in a room or change it up without worrying about the paint color.

Sending you hugs across that wide ocean!

David C Brown said...

We as Christian have a house where all are of equal dignity - no castes in it! Every one a living stone.

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Yes, these people forming the lower caste in India's social strata are also children of God. They become the great builders of other people's edifices. Thanks for the post. God bless you all always.

Amrita said...

Dear friends I appreciate your reactions to my mention of India 's caste system.

I am adding a note on this post about it.

monsoon dreams said...

The caste system in India is a very sensitive topic.It is there in hinduism as well as christianity.lower caste christians are treated the same way as lower caste hindus.changing the religion doesn't help them get a better status.though illegal,the caste feeling still runs deep in the minds of people,as intense as it was ages ago.all are children of the same God,though it's hard for many to accept.

monsoon dreams said...

who is in ur profile pic,Amrita?

Amrita said...

Dear Kathryn, good reason for choosing white paint. That 's right. I am already planning to have orange and earthy colors in the spare bed roon in which I have my computer.

Amrita said...

Dear Nina,
The caste system is so tightly woven into our society tha t it is difficult to by pass it.

Year s ago some people refused to rent out their houses to us because we were Christians and also ate meat.How awful.

I tried to create a profile picture with a cartoon generating site. Just fun.

Gerry said...

I would read about India every chance I got clear back when it was under British rule and I would feel so sorry for the caste called 'the untouchables' who could not get out of their caste. In the US people can go from low to high if luck is with them and they become stars or make a lot of money. Even though blacks for example had a terrible struggle getting out of the slavery status to 'equal' status which still has not happened in some cases, as old ideas die hard, as you say. I am glad it is better for the untouchables, and now here educated people out of work are glad to get jobs they ordinarily would not take and got educated to escape. I really enjoyed your discussion of the caste system and the improvements, as it would be hard for us in the US to know that without info from an Indian person like yourself. Which is why I so value your blog.

JI said...

Interesting peice Amrita. I think caste is an evil in Indian society which is not going to go away any time soon. It's good hear about progress being made to alleviate the conditions of Dalits. You will find prejudice exists everywhere you go. It just may not be so institutionalised as in India.

Kerala was an extremely castiest society until the turn of the twentieth century. I think western missionaries played a big role in bringing down prejudice. Also successive governments have implemented changes that have benefitted the poor.

I think the lower classes are far more open to the gospel than other people in India. You have to have a humble heart to meditate on what the gospel teaches and accept it. Jesus said the last will come first, and the first will come last in the kingdom of heaven. So it should be.

Best wishes,

Julie said...

I always learn so much from your blog posts and find them very interesting. The comments are worth reading also. Peace and joy to you.

Mrs. Mac said...

Very interesting .. thanks for an updated history lesson.

krishakumar yadhavan said...

Thank you so much! That did the trick, you saved me more endless hours of searching for a fix.

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