To start with, let me make it clear in first line that I hate caste system and any discrimination based on caste.
I think some background of my family will help you people to decide whether my experience is superfluous or could be termed a little bit real. I was born in a family which belongs to a caste which comes under the category of OBC definition of our government system and which is numerically insignificant to make any ‘vote bank’ except in some municipal wards or in some village, like one to which my father belongs. Before moving to Allahabad, I spent first 10 years of my life in a small town having a population of some 10-15k in district which could be called a backward district in terms of industries, development or in terms of law and order. My mother belongs to another town of the same district and my father’s village is in district which is even more undeveloped. So here it starts; my experience with caste.
My first school is one of those which are called by some people where casteism is taught; one of Saraswati Shishu Mandir spread in towns and small centers of this country. And number of times I faced any kind of discrimination from any of my teachers is an ‘absolute zero’. Most of them must be knowing my caste as it was a small town or at least they must be knowing that I am not one of so called ‘born with golden spoon kid' born in an ‘upper caste’; but still they never did any discrimination to me, not a single time. I spent 7 years in that school and forget about discrimination, I am one of the most loved students by teachers there. They loved me like their own kid and when my parents used to complain about me in meetings with them, they were the one who defended me in front of my parents. They were the one who had laid the foundation of my journey; if you consider me being a somewhat successful person, then they are the one who should get most of the credit.
When I moved to Allahabad, I joined a small private school there. Being new to that school, it’s obvious that I would not be in favorite list of those (every school or institute has its own dynamics), but again caste based discrimination – 0.
Then I did my high school and Intermediate from a government aided school. And like my early childhood days, here again I was one of the favorite students of my teachers. (Oops! Something must be horribly wrong with all these people, why are not they doing any discrimination). I still meet some of them, and when I touch their feet, it’s simple a student touching feet of his Guru; for all those who looks everything through lenses of castes, it may not be a ideal case for their Halla-gulla, but this is a real world, not a ‘award wapasi’ gang studio. To add more salts to wounds of this gang, if I was ever discriminated, it was always on positive side, and that too was not for my caste, but because of me being a hard-working student in their eyes. They were good people who had stood with me to make me, to build me and probably never looked at the caste column of my profile.
Then comes the college life and here again I was in the good list of ‘Shukla’ or ‘Ojha’. Anyone wishing to hear a story of an OBC being treated badly by an ‘upper caste’ could be sad by now, but hold your breath, 10 years of my life is still left.
Then I reached the prestigious IIT Kanpur to do my Post graduation and let me assure you I still don’t know caste of my thesis guide and I am sure he also don't. Reason is simple, we were busy doing what to be done in an institute, doing study, research. I still do and meet him to take his guidance, caste is a useless thing for both of us. I was involved in hostel politics and even there some of the cards played against me were my food habits and regionalism. To give the credit where it is due, even my political opponents did not brought caste into the table while fighting the election.
And with IIT, my educational career stopped, and I faced no discrimination on the basis of my caste even a single time. And I do ensure you that I did not faced any discrimination during my job period too.
So here I am; After 3 schools, 2 colleges, 4 training academies and 2 workplaces and zero caste based discrimination. What a journey it was, and by now I don’t believe that it was just my luck to not find a single such person; it is more of a norm. I may get some in future, but that would make them exceptions only.
So it was all about my educational and professional life, but that is just a part of my life, what about time which I spend with my family, my friends, their families and many other people with whom I come into contact daily.
Starting with my family; for them it never mattered that I am making friends of what castes or religion. They did not care for it at all and all my friends are always welcomed by them inside home and my mother always had conversations with them, some time even more than me irrespective of their caste or religion. Talking about any such discrimination in my friend circle would be a blasphemy. All of us know each other caste or religion, but we don’t give even a shit to it (and its not worth giving too). About their families, they had always treated me like their son. How on earth I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life, I have access to their living room, kitchen etc, and they did not even care to ask my caste! How can they be like that when according to some people everyone is castist to one’s core outside?
Reservation and my dilemma: Now it’s a good time to talk about the dilemma, which still haunts me. Whether to use reservation or not? First, I never faced discrimination and second, I belong to a middle class family (not a creamy one), so to use it or not, here lies the dilemma. If I go for using it, that would be against my personal views on reservation which I think is discriminatory against people of so called upper castes; and if I decide to apply as a general candidate, I may be doing more harm to other general candidates who are already suffering from reservation. This is one of those dilemmas which had given me sleepless nights. It may be happening to many other like me too, and they may have reached to a solution unlike me. I am still clueless what to fill in my form in the category column while filling a form, General or OBC? I decided to fill it at random, i.e. just fill whatever it comes into mind at that particular time. I find it a funny way to mock a system I dislike, there may be better ways, please help me if you have one.
Love to all.