Casteism and Regionalism in Rural Rajasthan

If anyone talks about rural India, the major point will come in to discussion is caste. Everyone has some kind of notion on this. The caste in rural India is much high compare than urban areas, people following this system from ancients. Here I’m gonna to share my experiences of caste and region in rural rajasthan.

I belong to rural village, so facing caste challenges were not new for me. But while in case of rajasthan it was more. In 2015 july, As a part of Gandhi fellowship, I was allocated to work in sujangarh block in rajasthan. It is there in Churu district and it is in Thar desert. For me, that area is entirely alien world because of lot of differences in food, socio-cultural and language differences. The first day of my fellowship I decided to face challenges even don’t know the language and having other problems. So, after some days, our Program Leader has assigned schools for us to work. The first day of my work, I went to one school and I tried to discuss with teachers. First I introduced my name and where I came from. The next minute itself they asked my caste. I was shocked. Because I know village people willing to know the other people’s caste, but here teachers are asking my caste. But I did not tell my caste. After ten minutes I went to 5th class to interact with students. They are so funny and enjoyed a lot. There was one girl in 5th class, she don’t like to touch my hand while we were playing. After some days I got to know that she thought if she touches me she will get black color of my skin to her skin. I laughed myself. Teachers need to work on the students thinking otherwise students will be like this only. After that class, I went to third class and did same process as earlier I did in other class to interact with students. In middle of the class, one student asked me, “Bhayya(I asked them to call me as Bhayya not guruji), aap ka jaath kya hi?” which means “what is your caste?” Then again I was shocked. When teachers, students and people asking my caste, I felt embarrassed. I faced these experiences in first day itself. After some days I got habituated to face this question. Everyone asked me caste people who are I tried mingle in sujangarh block. So, I got understood that caste issue is common here. In rural rajstan, if you talk to any person they will invite you for tea or food but treat will be based on your caste. Even one of my schools which I use to go, the students in the class there sitting structure is based on upon their caste. Brahmins will sit in first row, Rajput and jats after that and followed by other caste students. After some days, I discussed with teachers and tried a lot to change this structure. Sometimes I planned some activities, but all students are not participated. Because higher caste students told that they should not play with lower caste students. I don’t have any words to say. I tried a lot to change their thinking about caste but it was useless. Because if surrounding society is like that and people are practicing that structure so how can they leave it.

I faced not only question of caste and even faced challenges because of my region. I stayed in one village as a part of village immersion. In that time we have to arrange food by ourselves only. Means we have to ask village people to provide food for us. While I was staying in that village I ate many times in dalits and backward castes homes. While I was engaging with youth in that village, they used to ask me differences in my region (south India) and their region (north India). They have some negative notion on my region; we ate non veg so we are impure. Then I clarified lot things. But one day they questioned Bhai, you are belongs to Hyderabad, many people are Muslims in that area, “Do you like Pakistan?” “If match between Pakistan and India, which team you will support?” these questions are all stuck me. I don’t know how to clear those notions. Still those questions are rolling in my mind. Like these, I faced many challenges in terms of caste and religion. Till the end of my work there I never told my caste to anyone except my house owner. I don’t know when it can be demolish from the people. I hope that day will come soon…..

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