As Indians, we often judge people and things based on appearances alone, without fully understanding the situation. Our brains are wired to make quick conclusions. But when it comes to caste or religion, our perceptions can change in a dramatic way. We may suddenly feel compelled to defend our own caste or religion, even if we are not directly involved. This can lead to taking things personally and not being able to let go until the situation subsides.
Recently, there were incidents in the state of Haryana involving the blocking of roads and railways, aggressive attacks causing damage to public property, theft from ATMs, and the setting of shops and malls on fire, all in response to the “Jat Agitation” demand for reservation. The national media was covering these events extensively.
I wrote a Facebook post condemning the incidents and the demand for reservation by the Jats, who are known for being royal and rich, but are neither socially nor economically backward. To my surprise, some of my Facebook friends who are Jats started defending and justifying the protests. One of them even called me to ask if I was following a politician who was speaking out against the demand for reservation. I told them that I don’t have to follow anyone to see that what was happening was wrong and to speak out against it.
What was interesting was that these friends who were defending the riots were not even participating in the protests. Some of them had previously spoken out against the idea of reservation. But now that their caste was demanding reservation, they suddenly had a change of heart.
There were a few who spoke out against the riots, regardless of their caste, but the majority of people criticized them for bringing shame to their caste, as if the agitators weren’t already doing that. It’s difficult to understand how anyone could justify blocking a road, let alone the more aggressive acts that took place, just to demand reservation for one caste. It causes inconvenience to innocent people who have no part in this reservation controversy.
Why is it that our caste or religion is more important to us than humanity and the greater good of people? I can’t help but wonder what would happen if people from ISIS or other terrorist organizations were of the same caste as my friends. They would likely cry every time a terrorist was hanged by the law and protest against it, just like they did for the reservation.
This is why politicians are able to win elections through their dirty politics of caste and religion. It’s our emotional attachment to our caste or religion that is the biggest obstacle to our country’s development. We are the biggest fools in this conspiracy to keep people divided by caste and religion, but one thing is for sure – we won’t change.