Caste system still present in society

Caste system weaken but still present in society, says social scientist

PATNA - ‘The role of caste may be somewhat weakened since 1981, but remains present. An increase in the relative importance of caste in school enrolment is particularly noticeable, as is its determination as a factor explaining labour force participation, essentially of women’ says Dr Gerry Rodgers, eminent social scientist while presenting his paper titled ‘ The Changing role of caste and class in Bihar’s rural economy’ here at AN Sinha Institute of Social Science.
Former Director of International Labour Organisation (ILO), said ‘there are two major changes observed among the upper caste consisting Brahman, Rajput, Bhumiyar and Kayasth i.e. a decline in the Landlord class and rise of the non-agriculture class. A few household slipped down to scale of poor peasants. Whereas all the middle agricultural castes found mostly in the different peasant categories (like big, small and middle class of peasant). None of these groups has diversified into non-agricultural works to anything like the extent of the forward castes’
Dr. Rodger, who had jointly studied 36 villages in Bihar with late Prof. Pradhan Hari Prasad in 1980, later in 1998 and 2009 over this issue. After that, he unfolded the social dynamics behind the non-coincidence between caste and class and brought in the third force, namely land ownership upon which the class is built. Dr Rodgers finally established his arguments objectively through a multivariate analysis regressing four independent variables of Female Labour Force Participation Ratio, School enrolment, traditional debt and agricultural technology on caste and class and land ownership and compared it with 1980 studies.     
Dr Rodger could foresee the collapse of semi feudalism with the disappearance of tied labour and increasing share of poor and middle peasant class but with a rider that such transformation has been slow, and that class and caste still hang over the destiny of rural Bihar.
His paper also revealed some other important analysis. Due to declining of zamindari system after independence, the upper caste gained especially Bhumiyar, gained through the process of sanskrtization, whereas the middle caste especially, gained through administrative re-ordering during colonialization, especially Kurmi. Today, the position of particular castes is changing for other reason. The influence and access of upper caste over the available opportunity in the village may continue to dictate but it has less impact on outside village. It is on declining trend.
Dr Rodgers, alongwith Prof Alakh Sharma who also assisted Late Prof Pradhan in 1980, was trying to understand the process of transformation in rural Bihar. In rural Bihar class is built on control over resources, and the primary resource is land. The Indian economy as a whole is creating new opportunities, but they are in Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat and elsewhere, and until quite recently not in Bihar. The result has been large scale migration of Bihari workers across the whole of the north India and beyond. These opportunities have sounded the death-knell of semi-feudal mechanisms of control. Attached labour has disappeared, and tenancy and indebtedness no longer seem to be part of a systematic pattern of exploitation.
Muslims were split in two groups. A minority group of large peasants (previously landlords) and poor-middle peasants. Whereas Schedule castes have moved out of bonded or attached laborers, but most of them have ended up as landless casual laborer in 2009.
The patterns of landholding by caste shows that Yadavs have been moving up, Brahmins and Kurmis have been moving down, while the other including Bhumiars and rajputs have been broadly maintaining their position.
The two day national seminar was organized under the theme ‘A century of transformation of Bihar and road ahead’. There were 41 participants presenting their papers covering the sub-themes, namely-Emergence of bihar; Structural transformation of Bihar; Labour, Employment and Poverty in Bihar; Education and Development in Bihar; Flood water management and irrigation in Bihar; Urbanisation and social development in Bihar.
Some eminent personality including Dr DN Gautam, Prof Ramashray Singh, Prof  Gangadhar Jha, Sri Dinesh Mishra and Sri BG Verghese chaired the different sessions and expressed their thoughts on the given subjects.



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