The Roots —Labour Relations

How Annihiliation of Caste is Possible?


Inter-caste marriage is the path to 'Annihilation of Caste'! By this path, as the time progresses, the caste system will disappear as casteless families will form, and generations that do not have a caste will emerge!

Ambedkar too advocated inter-caste marriages. The inter-caste marriage is the only way to abolish the caste, before Ambedkar or after him!

Those people who preach and aspire for the inter-caste marriage only advocate the inter-caste marriage; they, however, do not, or cannot, show the path to the inter-caste marriage. Neither Ambedkar nor the leaders of any other caste could show a way to the inter-caste marriage!

In fact, the caste system is a problem not only for the 'lower' castes, also for the 'upper' castes! When a woman of an 'upper' caste fell in love with a man of a 'lower' caste, the elders of her house persuaded her against the alliance, and when foiled to dissuade her, they murdered her—a news clipping reports! Many a news item such as this! Are not these facts a matter of concern for the youth of the 'upper' castes? In a caste system, can the youth of the 'upper' castes choose their partners from the 'lower' castes as per their wish? If the caste system did not exist, would the youth of the 'upper' castes have this predicament? The caste system is perilous to all the castes exposing them to many a menace. Although the 'lower' castes are indeed exposed to problems of more severe nature, in the context of the inter-caste marriage, the caste is a common problem for all the castes!

In a meeting of 'the Democratic Women Writers' Association' held in May 2010 at Hyderabad, there was a discussion on the caste question. A Dalit woman said the following to me angrily, 'Why do you refer to the caste as 'lower' or 'upper'? All the castes are equal. If the Brahmin caste is superior to the Brahmins, our Mala caste is superior to us the Malas! One's caste is one's own; where is 'upper' and 'lower in a caste'.

I expressed my opinion. 'It is not the case that some others refer to the castes as 'upper' or 'lower'; every caste perceives the castes with these differences. Don't the people of the Mala caste consider their caste superior to that of the Madiga caste? There are some other castes everyone considers 'lower' than that of the Madiga caste.

'Don't you know that Ambedkar himself compared the castes with 'the steps of a ladder'? Isn't the top most step in a ladder is of the highest order and the bottom most one of the lowest order? And, aren't all the other steps in between superior to all those below and inferior to all those above in a ladder?

Drawing of a comparison between the castes and the steps of a ladder is an absolutely correct analogy. Considering the castes as 'upper' or 'lower' is a social custom all the castes practice. The people who consider this as a wrong perception oppose the caste system in its entirety. The members of a caste usually do not sit with the members of a different caste lower than their own to share food nor have marital relations. Does this not mean that the members of that particular caste consider their caste to be a superior one and a unique one? You said that you belong to the Mala caste. Do you consider the Madiga caste as an equal one to that of yours? Don't you consider the Brahmin caste as a superior caste to that of yours'? Within the Brahmin caste, there are many sub-castes. Among these sub-castes, one sub-caste doesn't consider the other one as its equal. Therefore, all the castes observe the custom of 'lower' and 'upper' difference among the castes; all the castes believe in these differences. Not any single caste is to blame for this situation." She remained silent.

Another incident that I know : A mother of a particular caste said. 'What is the problem with the caste? My children are studying. We do not need any reservations. We will find matches in our own caste. Why should we look for matches for my children in other castes? Why should we align with other castes?'

'That is not it. Let us assume that your daughter likes a boy from a caste that you consider 'lower'. Will you or will you not agree to the alliance?' I asked.

'I don't know; we will see if that happens. However, my kids will never do such a thing. My kids love my caste. They don't want to align even with the Brahmin caste. We would like to be faithful to our own caste,' she said.

'Then, how will the caste disappear?'

'Why should the caste disappear? My caste is my own.'

Another event! A man of a 'lower' caste having married to a woman of an 'upper' caste also married another woman of his own caste clandestinely and set up a separate family. When the first wife realized the betrayal and questioned him, 'What is the big deal?' he replied, 'I will take care of both of you'.

This person had no understanding of what ought to be 'the social relationship between a wife and a husband'; what ought to be 'an inter-caste' relation; he had had no commitment towards 'annihilation of caste'; and he did not have the least idea of what 'equality between man and woman' means. The first woman separated from the husband soon after that.

This is not to mean that the people of the 'upper' castes do not indulge in such violations; they too do the same thing. Flaws in all the castes; in men and women! Obsession with 'My caste! My caste!'

When young women and men hailing from different castes marry outside of their own castes in mutual interest, this alliance represents a love marriage; it does not represent an ideal to 'abolish the caste'. Nevertheless, this love marriage will lead to the Annihilation of Caste.

In the February 2016 issue of 'Dalit Commando', I read a strange news item. In that issue I found a photograph of a few young Dalit men and women raising slogans—'We will be born as Dalits. We wish to be born forever as Dalits. This was in response to the taunting of Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who questioned, 'Will anyone want to be born in the scheduled castes?' (There, I found only this single statement.) Indeed, indignation was justified, and this incidence deserves a befitting rebuttal. However, 'We wish to be born forever as Dalits',—should this be the response? Can an answer such as this reflect self-esteem even if pronounced in indignation? Does retention of caste identity represent self-respect?

If the Dalits wish to remain as Dalits and take birth as Dalits again and again, then, this wish will be a matter of great rejoicing for all the 'upper' caste people! After this declaration, those people who call themselves Dalits, cannot be critical of the principles depicted in The Manusmriti. They cannot oppose the 'four-varna' system. Above all, they cannot even be disapproving of the caste system. Should we need to pay heed to the people who desire to remain as Dalits life after life?

People of all the castes must aspire for the disappearance of the caste and the equality of all the human beings! However, there will be one question, 'Will the people of the 'upper' castes aspire the same way?'

Which are the 'upper'' castes? If you exclude two castes: the top-most and the bottom-most two castes, all the other numerous castes in a caste system have the dual character of being the 'upper' as well as the 'lower' caste! Any specific caste is "upper' in comparison with the castes below and 'lower' in comparison with the castes above itself! That means each caste is 'upper' as well as 'lower', both! The Kamma caste is an 'upper' caste as well as a 'lower' caste. Within the Brahmin caste, there exist many other 'lower' and 'upper" sub-castes and differences. All these differences have originated from the differences of the occupations. Although there have been changes in the occupations, the identity of the differences continues without change.

Since a caste is "upper" in one context and 'lower' in a different context, 'equality' is necessary also for the 'upper' castes to rid themselves of the lowness. If a specific 'upper' caste is unwilling to forfeit superiority in one context, that caste will have to experience inferiority in many other contexts. Equality, therefore, is inevitable for all the castes!

Not that there haven't been 'inter-caste marriages'; they have been happening all the time, but one in a hundred or one in a million! Even if the frequency of the inter-caste marriages increases two-fold or more due to reservations, the children born out of the marriage will get a caste identity owing to the reservation system. Therefore, the caste remains! Reservations are the need of the present day. If the present day need becomes a permanent need, Annihilation of Caste will never happen.

Therefore, we must find a solution for the caste problem and eliminate the caste system independently of reservations.

Inter-caste marriages can take place in two different contexts,
(1)   Marriages between 'upper' and 'lower' castes or
(2)  Marriages between two different 'upper' castes or two different 'lower' castes

When we consider a marriage between two different 'upper' castes, the majority people of this 'upper' caste would be poor. Even within an 'upper' caste, a relationship cannot exist between a rich family and a poor one. This is an economic, not a caste, problem.

An alliance is not possible between a person of a 'lower' caste engaged in the bottommost manual labor and a person hailing from an 'upper' caste insulated from such menial labour. Even in those rare instances, how was an alliance possible between people of an 'upper' caste and a 'lower' caste? The 'lower' caste person must have distanced himself or herself from menial jobs and elevated himself or herself to an intellectual position or a skilled occupation. For the 'lower' caste person, only after such a transformation, an alliance with a person of an 'upper' caste is possible. Without such an elevation in the position, the 'lower' caste person cannot even dream of a love relationship with a person of an 'upper' caste!

We can understand how inter-caste marriages are possible by examining a few of these marriages. A study like this is not an obligation for only the 'lower' castes but a responsibility of all the castes including the 'upper' castes. Even when the larger sections of the 'upper' castes are burdened with some types of menial jobs, these jobs will not be of the lowest of the low kind. A poor Brahmin person may have a manual job as a water-carrier or a cook, but he will not be engaged in such labour as manual scavenging. Since there are differences among the manual jobs, their economic positions also will be correspondingly different.

As the large majorities amongst the 'lower' castes are engaged only in the lowly menial jobs, their economic conditions will be sordid. Since inter-caste marriages are the only path to Annihilation of Caste, we must take into account the nature of the labours performed by the castes of 'lower' and 'upper' stature and the incomes earned from those jobs.

Even in those countries where caste system does not exist, the occupation (the types of labour) can obstruct an alliance between the bottommost manual workers and the intellectual occupations. A marital relation between a worker sweeping the roads and a professor teaching at a college will not be possible even in those countries that do not have the caste system. Nor a relationship of love is possible.

It follows that manual and intellectual labours constitute principal reasons for the formation of familial relationships in any country irrespective of whether or not there exists caste system.

When the people performing the lowly menial tasks are liberated, does it mean that the society can function without a need for these labours? Not at all. In the human society, every single kind of lowly menial task must be performed every single day. The cleaning of the roads and the lavatories must happen every single day. The plying of the buses, trucks, and trains must happen every single day. The burying and cremation of human and animal carcasses must happen even single day. If an intellectual job is suspended for a few days, no misfortune befalls the society. The manual tasks, in contrast, cannot stop even for a single day. If the manual labors such as the supply of the drinking water, fetching of water from the natural sources stops even for a single day, the society will cease to exist on the day next.

The manual jobs and their uninterrupted performance are that critical for the society. Must some people of certain sections of the society perform these jobs for life because these jobs are so essential?

If the people performing the lowly menial labour stop doing these tasks, then, who should perform these jobs? For instance in India, how can those people of the 'lower' castes that have been doing the lowly menial jobs for thousands of years, ever begin to perform the intellectual tasks? The solution, in brief, would be the following: every individual member of the society (both men and women included) must perform some manual and some intellectual tasks! No person should be able to escape from doing the manual jobs, and no other person should be free from performing the intellectual tasks.

Every child in a society must learn in a small way both manual and intellectual labours as they grow. The people grown up into adults in such a way will be able to perform both kinds of tasks: manual and intellectual.

The tying down of a person to a single and specialized task represents the Division of Labour of the exploitative societies. This Division of Labour especially in the capitalist system, assumes the form of specialization in all kinds of labour.

The dressmaker who can stitch any dress completely and independently becomes only a wage labourer in the capitalist system and is restricted to performing only a narrow task of the dress making. While one dressmaker is restricted only to cutting the fabric, the other only to stitching and yet another only to attaching the collars to the dress or fixing the buttons! The dressmaker has to toil the whole day performing a 'lower' task repeatedly. And. a 'lower' wage for this! Further, the worker would win a nickname—a 'button dressmaker', or 'collar dressmaker'.

Even a physician endowed with diverse skills and capable of examining the body of a patient in its entirety will become a specialist only of the legs, hands, eyes or nose in the name of specialization. And, the treatment will be extremely expensive!

When the workers are restricted to a small fraction in a manual or an intellectual task, how can the social conditions or incomes of any two workers be of an equal status?

In even society irrespective of whether there exists caste system or not, two changes must take place to achieve 'equality'. Only when these two changes take place, only then, the change will be a complete change and a change for equality!

(1) The liberation of the entire working class from Exploitation of Labour : That means, those people who existed as owners until that time must begin to work. When this change happens, the labour time in 'a work day' will reduce for every person! With a change ensuring the complete transfer of the 'Value of Labour' to each person for the labour performed, the incomes such as the land rent, profit and interest, which are secured by means of exploitation of labour will come to an end!

(2) The formation of 'equal Division of Labour' where every person performs a few manual and a few intellectual tasks dutifully : Without this second change, there is no meaning to 'equality'. A society that cannot formulate equality cannot be 'an egalitarian society'.

Until now, nowhere in the world, there existed an egalitarian society formed and readily available. A theory that suggests the formation of the egalitarian society, however, is available. It is not an imaginary theory. It is a theory capable of defending equality and opposing the exploitative culture with the help of the conditions of the 'use value' and the estimates of the exchange value'!

People opposed to the caste system exist in all the castes. These reformists, however, do not consider important aspects of the society that are evident. Why are there differences such as the poor and the rich? Among the human beings why there exist differences that some human beings beg alms and some others give alms? Why are there differences that some sections toil doing the lowly manual labours, while some other sections perform high intellectual tasks, and yet some others do not have to do any work at all? Those people who are not concerned with these differences think that 'such differences are natural', and they will remain that way. They, however, fail to realize that there also exists a theory that defines such differences that appear 'natural' are not really natural and not factual. Even if they have heard about it, they will not turn their attention to that theory. Such people exist in all the castes.

Indeed the caste system is a difficult problem! If this remained an irresolvable problem over thousands of years, what could be the cause of the impasse? People of all castes do not give a thought to this question.

This is a problem that originated due to 'Exploitation of Labour', 'exploitative Division of Labour' and 'the religious conditions' in a specific country and remained intact till today! The only path to removing this scourge is to understand 'exploitation of labour', its 'Division of Labour', and the religious customs of that country!

Only when we realize that different castes pursue different occupations and that the exchange values of different labours are unequal, only then can we understand the reasons underlying caste distinctions, rich-poor distinctions and other kinds of distinctions. Then we will find solutions to the problems.

The manual labours in the human society initially must have originated one following the other, and the intellectual labour also must have made an appearance eventually—it is simple to conceive this process.

A person may not participate in all the labours existing in society. However, for sustenance, that person will need all kinds of labours.

If an intellectual labourer does not realize the obligation, from the perspective of equality, of performing manual labours such as agriculture, then, that person must sustain himself or herself without a need for the products of the agriculture! If that person can eke out a living without consuming provisions such as the rice, vegetables, fruits, and pulses; and can stay away from wearing clothes made of cotton, then, that person will not have an obligation to perform any labour associated with the agriculture. Likewise, if that person can live without setting foot on a road, then, that person will not be obliged to do a job related to cleaning of the roads. So are the labours of cleaning of the lavatories, the transportation matters, construction of the houses, and so on! A person who can afford to live without using any manual labour need not perform any manual labour, does he?

We must discuss the question of equality once again in detail. When one person is committed to only one kind of manual labours and another person only to one type of intellectual task, how will these two persons become equals? When there are intrinsic differences in the use values and exchange values of the labours people perform, in what aspect can two different people performing only one kind of labour each become equals?

If a person performs four different kinds of tasks according to a planned schedule in a week—a higher level task such as the medical practice, a second level task such as the teaching, a different task such as the transportation, and one of the lowly tasks—thus, when the Division of Labour is organized into performing four or five different kinds of labour, what will be the nature of this worker? Will that person be a clinician, a teacher, a driver, or a sweeper?—That person will be all of them. Or, he will be that worker doing a specific task at a specific time. There will not be a specific way to recognize that person as only 'a clinician', 'a teacher', 'a driver', or 'a sweeper'.

When every person performs a combination of four or five different types of labour containing different exchange values, the use value components and the exchange value totals of the workers will be equal.

When an intellectual worker refuses to perform bottommost manual labour what is the disposition of that intellectual worker? His disposition would be the condemnation of a few sections of the society to do the lowly manual jobs forever; that these sections should forever remain as scavengers, sweepers or drivers and the like; that the earning of these sections should remain low forever; that there should be exclusive sections for performing the higher intellectual tasks, that the incomes of these exclusive sections should be higher!

Is this not the intention of the intellectual workers who refuse to do the manual tasks?

Then, how should the manual workers respond to this defiance? The people engaged in the manual labour must realize that this discrimination represents 'Exploitation of Labour', 'violation' and 'inequality'.

Unless the human beings establish equal conditions in 'labour relations', they cannot be equals in any aspect. Men cannot be equal to men; women cannot be equal to women, and men and women cannot be equal to each other!

Unless the society based on exploitation of labour is transformed into a society based on relations of equality, the evils of tomorrow will surpass those of today in magnitude! This is because 'a new surplus value' is produced every year in the existing capitalist society. The new surplus value will add to the old surplus value to enhance the quantum. In other words, the total incomes secured through the land rent interest, profit, and taxes that are in possession of the exploitative classes will keep increasing rapidly year after year!

The competition between the capitalist enterprises to convert the escalating quantum of the surplus value into capital will progressively intensify as compared to the past. The old commodities will take new forms.

The commodity called 'cinema' is a capitalist commodity at any point of time. However, the cinemas of the present day are more terrible by at least a thousand fold as compared to the cinemas of 50 or 60 years ago! The same situation prevails with respect to the news papers, garments, food items, and the pencils used by the pupils—not any single item but all the items. All the items are degraded to the base level by adulteration. Although the wages appear to have increased, given the inflation, there will not be a real improvement in relative terms.

The large majority of the 'lower' castes are an integral part of the working class.

Unless the working class liberates itself by confronting the capitalist system, the problems arising from the Exploitation of Labour will not disappear on their own! The working class must take forward the class struggle that began with the class of slaves!

No theory that does not defend 'equal Division of Labour' will be able to make the conditions of human beings equal.

The formation of equal Division of Labour is the necessary precondition for the formation of equality among the human beings regardless of whether or not a country has the caste system! In other words, the work schedule must be such that every person must perform four or five different kinds of labour This is also the only path for the disappearance of male-work versus female-work distinction in Division of Labour!

If we realize the reason as to why we have to formulate the labours based on the criterion of equality that are needed for the society, it will not be impossible to formulate a system of equal Division of Labour. If we fail to restructure the society in this fashion, the same Exploitative Society and the same exploitative Division of Labour, which have sustained thus far, will continue to remain for years to come. The evils of the society will not reform themselves; they will change only when we change them!

The attempts to change the exploitative Division of Labour were made during the Cultural Revolution in China. New changes such as the university professors setting foot into the agriculture fields, the medical practitioners cleaning the hospital floors, and the manual workers attending study classes -changes such as these had begun at that time and continued for a short period. A few communists of India were shocked seeing the changes in China and began to criticize thus, 'Should professors do the farm labour'?

If the professors can live off without using the farm products, then, they will not have to reduce the duration of their labour of teaching and spend some time to learn farm labour. Can't the professors fix the electrical appliances? Can they not drive buses? The communists who were opposed to such a change aligned themselves with the point of view of the professors, not with that of the manual workers! They failed to realize that the farm worker is as much of a human being as the professor is! The new change implemented for equal Division of Labour is the change that all of the humankind ought to cherish! When the communists themselves fail to realize as to why such changes should occur, it is not possible for the common people to learn about it.

This progressive transformation, however, came to a halt within a very short period of time in China. When the proletarian class struggle itself got retracted in China, could the march of the new Division of Labour have surged forward victoriously? These are the changes that must happen in future nevertheless!

'To resolve the caste question,' it would not suffice to look at the labels of the castes 'lower' or 'upper'. One must pay attention to the labour relations prevalent in the society, the unjust nature of these relations, the inequalities and the solutions. These aspects must be considered.

"Why has the caste system sustained through thousands of years?'—We should ask this question ourselves again and again.

"We could secure reservations if we remain in lower castes"—a few people of the 'lower' castes who could manage to get a little relief due to the reservation system might innocently think this way. They might aspire 'to reborn as Dalits'. Such people do not have a need for the annihilation of caste anymore. Many other people, in contrast, need Annihilation of Caste.

Three primary issues one must take note of regarding reservations :
(1)   The system of reservations can elevate only a few people of lower castes, not all. This system is not the path of emancipation for all.
(2)  Even if some people can elevate themselves in education and employment, they, nevertheless, will fasten their children to the same caste. Regardless of how long the reservation system is implemented, the caste system will disappear.
(3)  Since the system of reservations cannot elevate all, the large majorities of the 'lower' castes will be condemned to the lowly manual labels.

The people who reached higher levels through reservations, and the rich people of the other castes as well, lack 'the perspective of equality', therefore, they cannot and will not maintain close relations with the poor people of their own castes. The reservations do not impart such a perspective.

The system of reservations cannot be instrumental for the eradication of the caste or the elimination of the differences between the rich and the poor; we therefore, must realize that the benefits ensuing from such a system are limited.

The people of the 'lower' castes, while continuing to avail the system of reservations as a temporary relief for the sake of immediate problems, must also recognize the path to complete emancipation.

The Dalit leaders do not allow terms such as 'labour relations' or 'Division of Labour' fall on their ears; they promote terms such as 'division of labourers' instead. This term implies that the labourers are divided into one caste or the other! When many castes exist, won't the labourers divide themselves based on the caste differences? When the caste itself is abolished, only then, there 'will not be a division of the labourers'. Do the proponents of 'division of labourers' suggest a path for the elimination of such a division? Having arrived at the point of reservations, they stop. The leaders, instead, show the path to occupy the positions of the exploitative Government. As if this is not enough, they will present a path for 'the Dalits to become bourgeois'! When one Dalit becomes a bourgeois, a thousand other Dalits would become his wage slaves! This is the system that the bourgeoisie of the "upper' castes is perpetrating today! This is nothing but imitating the 'upper' castes!

People of any caste who do not accept terms such as 'Exploitation of Labour, Division of Labour, exploitative labour relations, abolition of the exploitation of labour' etc. can leave these terms alone! What we all desire is 'the Annihilation of Caste'! If anyone belonging to any caste has a different strategy, let us have that strategy! The proposed scheme must encourage inter-caste marriages frequently. The scheme must lead to the Annihilation of Caste. If we can find that path, we all shall adopt that path! And, we shall implement that path! This is what we all seek!

I have prepared a short list, the way I perceive, to examine the inter-caste marriages. Anyone is welcome to improvise this list!

The names of the two pairs are not real; all the other information is real. In the first marriage, the wife asked for a divorce as the husband married deceitfully for the second time from his own caste without the knowledge of his wife. When the matter was exposed, and the wife demanded an explanation, the husband promised to 'maintain both'. She did not agree to this arrangement and sought a divorce. There was no such problem in the second inter-caste marriage. Compare a hundred inter-caste marriages in this manner. Take a note of the occupation of the person of the 'lower' caste in the pair! This will be an important clue why these marriages were possible in the first place.

[Originally serialized in Nava Telangana, Telugu daily, June 13, 16, 20 & 23, 2016. Translation : R Udaykumar]

A sample listing of the Inter-Caste marriages
Marriage Decision
Together or not
G Swapna & M Mohan
Teacher & Bank Empoyee
Pair itself
Their Daughter


Autumn Number
Vol. 50, No.12-15, Sep 24 - Oct 21, 2017