As caste persists

Like it has done at other crucial moments of historical reckoning, the caste system in India is molting, to camouflage itself in the new environment of democracy. If the early years after the ushering of modernity in India had begun to reveal caste in all its ugly detail, this has given way to more sinister, almost invisible forms of dehumanizing practices. Once more, it has become too easy to be snug in ignorance on caste.

But as some of the recent events in U.P. reveal, or, if one follows the trails of news with a little more empathy, as a never-ending stream of caste-based atrocities makes absolutely clear, caste is a monster which might have one of the most lavishly furnished wardrobes. Yet all those changes of clothes cannot hide its hideousness, its reek.

In The Persistence of Caste, Anand Teltumbde simmers what are now known as the “Khairlanji murders” on the blue flames of his rage and intelligence, and manages to first systematically disabuse us of the notion of the passing of caste, and then explains in detail how caste not only survives but thrives.

A new reprint of the book is now available on the Navayana website.


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