Depiction of upper castes as oppressors

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

I read the article, ‘The compassionate revolution of Saint Stan Swamy’ by Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi published in

While I condemn the arrest of Stan Swamy, in my opinion, the above article is a subtle way to divide the Indian people into caste lines, and thus it is part of the divide and rule policy of our enemies ( first of the British rulers, and after 1947 of our crafty politicians who polarise society ), so as to prevent the formation of a united front under which the Indian people can launch a historical struggle for the creation of a just social and political order under which the people can get decent lives.

In the above article, repeatedly upper castes have been attacked. Thus it is mentioned, ” India is divided into the ruling oppressive upper-caste minority of less than 10% or less, and the vast majority who had been living under slavery and discrimination for millennia “.

And again ” Today, events like the commemoration of Bhima Koregaon challenge the feeling of absolute dominance enjoyed by the upper caste minority “.

The whole article is full of such pejoratives, diatribes, vituperation, and invectives. against the upper castes.

Now three things must be mentioned in this connection.

Firstly, the vast majority of upper caste people are also oppressed. They are living in poverty and suffering the same problems like huge unemployment, appalling child malnourishment, lack of proper healthcare and good education, skyrocketing prices, etc which lower castes are suffering from. No doubt in the state apparatus, corporate sector, academia, professions, etc there are less of Dalits and more of upper castes and OBCs, but these all together would be hardly 1 or 2% of India’s huge population.

So to say that upper castes are oppressors is just not true. While it is true that most upper caste people look down on Dalits, the fact is that perhaps 95% of upper caste people are themselves oppressed by the socio-economic system.

Secondly, it must be realized that to get genuine economic and social emancipation the Indian people must unite, and launch a historical people’s struggle under modern-minded leaders. The lower castes must unite with the enlightened sections of the upper castes in this people’s struggle, and not stand alone, nor regard all upper caste people as their enemies.

In this connection see my article criticizing Arundhati Roy who attacked Brahmins and Brahminism ( instead of attacking the caste system )

See also my article on Periyar, whom I regard as a British agent ( since he attacked a specific caste, the Brahmins).

For this reason, I am strongly against caste-based organizations, like BAPSA ( Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association ) which only divides people into caste lines.

Thirdly, it is not true that Dalits have been ‘slaves’ for millennia. I have pointed out in the article below that the social status of Dalits went down after the advent of the British into India and the destruction of our handicraft industry.

I regret to say that articles like the one published in only serve to play into the hands of our enemies, and harm the people by inciting caste hatred.


[Above photo courtesy: Father Stan Swamy (26 April 1937 – 5 July 2021). Art: Pariplab Chakraborty/The Wire]