How can the evils of India’s caste system (varna sampradaya) be addressed? Many may say education, reservation etc.. But Member of Parliament Hansraj Ahir has come up with a unique solution – give state support for inter-caste marriages.
In a query sent to the Social Justice ministry, Ahir asked if the government could and had any plans to remove the evil of caste system by encouraging citizens to break caste barriers when marrying. Caste system, a form of tribal affiliation, survives as citizens marry only those who belong to their own caste, which is only determined by birth. Since people marry only within their own community, the identity survives generation after generation, and often violence and discrimination is based on such identities.
Ahir wanted to know if the government had in mind any “action plan” to ensure that citizens would be encouraged to marry outside their own caste.
He also wanted to know if the government was considering any proposal to provide the benefits of reservation to inter caste couples and their children. At present, reservation is only provided to caste-groups and not to casteless people.
The government clarified that it did not have any such program, not did have any such plans.
However, as far as reservation was considered, under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act, 1989, Central assistance is provided to the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations towards incentive for inter-caste marriages, where one of the spouses belongs to a Scheduled Castes.
Caste system has been one of the key reasons for disunity and strife in India, with people often encouraging members of their own caste groups in promotions, employment etc.. To ensure that certain castes do not monopolise government jobs, India even has laws that ensures a minimum of representation to each caste in government.
A law mandating people to marry outside caste is likely to be opposed by certain sections of the society who consider other castes ‘beneath’ them.