Bihar Openly Continues Dining and Marrying within the caste; Anyone for Equality?

The Telegraph, September 15 , 2009


Patna, Sept. 14: The dictum jaati ki roti jati mein; jaati ki beti jati mein (dining and marrying within the caste), is a norm guiding not only the state’s social and political lives, but also kitchens of premier medical colleges.

Thereby, there are Yadav chapatis, Rajput paranthas, Bhumihar puris and Brahmin kachauris that are just some of the few items being offered to medical students of Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in north Bihar’s Muzaffarpur town.

College sources state that the array of names is an “open secret” and that the reality is same everywhere.

Even state health minister Nandkishore Yadav was made aware of the practice recently. “Naming or serving dishes according to caste lines is unacceptable. We will ensure that it ends as soon as possible,” said he.

Shri Krishna produces several of the state’s doctors who are supposed to treat all patients with equal care. However, doctors’ charity does not certainly begin at the kitchen.

While the Bihar health minister seemed surprised by the practise, health secretary C.K. Mishra was not. “I am aware that students divide themselves in caste groups and run kitchens in institutions. The practice is primordial and should be discarded,” he said.

Talking to The Telegraph, some doctors in Bihar medical colleges admitted that caste considerations frequently guide campus kitchens. And they add that the practice has been going on for decades. A handful even believes that efforts should be taken to end the “shameful” practise.

Mishra points out that the panacea to cure the caste fever is restaurants and cafeterias on campus. Most of the state’s medical colleges do not have official cafeterias or restaurants that offer a quick meal. The virus of caste consciousness is not confined to medical colleges alone and is a part of state machineries — which, too, is not supposed to differentiate between the state citizens.

Caste is a prime consideration while running the kitchen of the Bihar Military Police (BMP) school. State police constabulary comprises jawans from almost all castes and religions.

“You can see it for yourself. Yadav jawans have their own kitchens, while Dalits have their own. The Brahmins don’t touch the food from a Dalit kitchen in the constabulary mess,” said K.K. Jha, the general secretary of Bihar Police Association.

He pointed out that even chief minister Nitish Kumar and police top brass is aware of the practice. “But no one has done anything to address the issue,” he added.


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