Thursday, April 30, 2015

Salman Khan’s Caste

I had written some time ago about Amitabh Bhachan’s caste.
Following a legal practice that was probably introduced by the British over a century ago, arms of Govt identify a person by name, religion, and caste. Why can’t India legislate out this practice? If it is only for identifying me, I believe that size of shoe I wear would be a more useful bit of information!
My hats off to Salman for answering “Indian” when he was asked his caste!
I got reminded of a time long ago when we were trying to get admission for our daughter in a well-known school in Mumbai. As I filled up the application form, I ignored the item that asked for my religion, and put in a dash there. The admission sought was for the KG class and there was an interview. From the way our daughter reeled off the questions she had been asked and the answers she said she had given, we thought that the school would appoint her as a teacher! But, alas, her name was not on the selection list. My wife and I asked for an appointment with the Head of the School, a highly respected missionary. On hearing our complaint, the Principal showed us the application form I had filled up and explained that she was concerned about the future of children who are brought up without a good world view. She said it did not matter what the family’s religion was, as long as there was a religion. She explained how engrossed in the material pursuits of life, parents often forget to instill good ideas in the minds of their children. She said that brings all kinds of problems as the children grow up.
I have no quarrel with the world view argument. I shudder to think of children who are brought up without ethical and moral values.  I do believe that they should learn about life and death, good and bad, humanity and inhumanity. They should learn to respect the bit of altruism that makes humans what they are, and be proud that they have it in them. But how do I tell a missionary who has spent most of her life educating students that I consider that traditional religious beliefs are not the only way to create a human world view?
I asked for the form and wrote the name of a religion where it was asked for. My daughter got admitted into that school. I felt I had been a coward. 

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