The Madras High Court has stated that intercaste marriages could be the key to uprooting the caste system from India. While passing an order in a case where an intercaste couple was struggling to get protection from the bride’s family, Justice N Anand Venkatesh, “In fact many thinkers believe that intercaste marriage is the only panacea to root out the evil of caste system. These are days where the younger generation is slowly moving out of the ill effects of caste system and that is the reason for a lot of intercaste marriages that are happening in the society. These changes must be accepted by the elders and this change is infact good for the society in rooting out the caste system,” reports Bar and Bench.

KEY TAKEAWAYS: 

  • The Madras High Court has endorsed intercaste marriages believing that it can uproot evils of caste system.
  • When it comes to matrimonial alliances in India, caste matters.
  • Many youths pay the price with their lives, or social and familial isolation if they opt for intercaste marriages.
  • In times when polarisation is at its peak, the need for uprooting the caste system is paramount.

The reason why they must have a say in whom you marry is that they think they are answerable to not just their community but also their forefathers. Belief in the superiority of one’s caste is strongly allied with the belief in the inferiority of that of others.

When it comes to matrimonial alliances in India, caste matters, perhaps more than anything else. Since a majority of alliances are still arranged in our society, parents and peers get to implement their patriarchal beliefs. Ours is a country where love marriages still raise a lot of eyebrows, and parents see it as an outright disrespect of both their authority and values. The reason why they must have a say in whom you marry is that they think they are answerable to not just their community but also their forefathers. Belief in the superiority of one’s caste is strongly allied with the belief in the inferiority of that of others. This mindset is especially prevalent in parents of daughters, for whom giving a “high born” girl to a relatively or outright “low born” boy is polluting. Just recently the father of a rape survivor in a Madhya Pradesh village was asked to organise a purification dinner for the entire village, because she was raped by a  “lower caste” man. The girl’s consent was violated, but this incident perfectly shows how strong the notion of caste-related purity is in our country.

Apart from seeing women as a commodity, and putting more value to their wombs than their own free will, castism in marital alliances is also a controlling practice. But it just doesn’t manifest itself in radical and obvious forms such as violence and threats. Its effects are subtle and deep-rooted too. We all carry a fragment of it in our consciousness. So many romances die prematurely in this country, because lovers know that they have no future together. So many urban parents oppose marital alliances arranged by their children, refusing to give their blessings, because the match is intercaste. This everyday reservation to intercaste marriages isn’t violent, but is embitters relationships, presents unnecessary challenges to couples in love and keeps us from being accepting.

So many romances die prematurely in this country, because lovers know that they have no future together. So many urban parents oppose marital alliances arranged by their children, refusing to give their blessings, because the match is intercaste.

As Justice Venkatesh says, change is good for society. This is especially essential in the polarised times that we live in. Despite all our modernity, somehow castism is only getting stronger. We are more rigid as a society than we ever were. Love perhaps, can help strengthen the frayed bonds in this country. It can bring warmth and acceptance. It can prompt us to open our eyes and see that there is much more to a person than being born in a certain caste. That virtues like love, sincerity and affection contribute more to a happy alliance than patriarchal dictates.

Youngsters in love have always challenged these beliefs and followed their hearts, over dictates of the society. Some days they have paid its cost with their lives, on other days with social isolation and estrangement from families. We are a long way from complete acceptance of intercaste marriages in India. But hopefully the Madras High Court’s message will atleast challenge the perception among common people and impel them to challenge their mentality. In these bleak times, I will settle for that at the moment.

Picture Credit: MyAdvo.in

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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