It was a crying shame that in some schools in Tamil Nadu students were made to wear colour-coded wrist bands as “caste markers”, as distinct from religious threads. The wrist bands — which came in hues of red, yellow, green and saffron — were giveaways of the wearers’ caste identity. How students were looked at and treated (with respect or contempt) depended on the wrist bands they wore. To be branded like animals is the ultimate humiliation. There can be nothing more dehumanising and degrading than designating pupils as lower castes and higher castes. The practice underlines that there is no hope of escape from caste even for school kids. It widens the rifts between castes. It is a stain on the so-called proud culture of Tamil Nadu.
We are at a loss to understand how it became possible for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a party with roots in the Dravidian movement, to validate the naked display of caste discrimination. The humiliation of lower caste people is accepted as a social and cultural norm. Caste is premised on the notions of purity and pollution and superiority and inferiority. It negates the noble idea of equality contained in a Tamil verse Pirappu okkum ella uyirkum — all lives are equal in birth. The emergence of a new India is not possible without breaking the hideous chains of caste.
G David Milton, Maruthancode
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