Dr.Ambedkar in Annihilation of Caste:

It is a pity that [tag]Caste[/tag] even today has its defenders. The defences are many. It is defended on the ground that the [tag]Caste System[/tag] is but another name for division of labour and if division of labour is a necessary feature of every civilized society then it is argued that there is nothing wrong in the Caste System. Now the first thing is to be urged against this view is that Caste System is not merely [tag]division of labour[/tag]. It is also a division of labourers.

Civilized society undoubtedly needs division of labour. But in no civilized society is division of labour accompanied by this unnatural division of labourers into watertight compartments. Caste System is not merely a division of labourers which is quite different from division of labour—it is an hierarchy in which the divisions of labourers are graded one above the other. In no other country is the division of labour accompanied by this gradation of labourers. There is also a third point of criticism against this view of the Caste System. This division of labour is not spontaneous; it is not based on natural aptitudes. Social and individual efficiency requires us to develop the capacity of an individual to the point of competency to choose and to make his own career. This principle is violated in the Caste System in so far as it involves an attempt to appoint tasks to individuals in advance, selected not on the basis of trained original capacities, but on that of the social status of the parents. Looked at from another point of view this stratification of occupations which is the result of the Caste System is positively pernicious. Industry is never static. It undergoes rapid and abrupt changes. With such changes an individual must be free to change his occupation. Without such freedom to adjust himself to changing circumstances it would be impossible for him to gain his livelihood

 i wonder if the division of laborers, over the centuries is what led to so many conquests…. i also wonder whether it was this division of labour that led to a dark ages where there was no social, scientific or technical progress. 

I often wondered how 3% of the population was able to the bulk of the population subjugated for so long. Why was there never a revolution. The answer was quite simple, they didn't have to do too much. The zillion odd castes kept each other in check and ensured that the system thrived at the expense of everything else.

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6 thoughts on “Excerpts – Annihilation of Caste 3

  1. Everyone has a grand theory about things. Here’s mine:

    Caste arose as a response to a parental desire to give a leg-up to their offspring in the face of increased competition and socio-economic mobility.

    Witness the scionitis in politics and bollywood today; or among the bureaucracy in the years past. Abhishek Bachchans and Rahul Gandhis ten generations later will be the forebears of the acting caste called Bachchan and a ruling caste called Gandhi.

  2. Hi Harini,
    actually you are quite correct. Dr. Ambedkar explains both the issues, the dark age because of caste system and absence of a revolution because of “graded inequality”, in his book “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India”.

    But I think, these are obvious answers ignored for obvious reasons.

  3. @nitin — interesting theory…. my own is that caste arose initially to maintain racial purity…. and then to keep power in the hands of the few….. on the acting caste and the political caste … hopefully not !!

    @Prabin — i must read revolution and counter revolution… haven’t read it yet…. the problem with terms like SC and ST and OBC and forward caste and backward caste is that it lumps every one together, completely forgetting that even within a caste there is hierarchy. And that hierarchy is as rigid as inter caste hierarchy….

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