Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Caste: Experiment in Evolution? 2

As I said before, evolution is essentially every being's response to the environment. So to seclude the superior gene, it is essential to keep the laboratory conditions under control. By providing the signal with as low noise as possible, varnasharama tries to create the conditions for the "superior gene" to evolve.

While the effect of geography on physiology is pretty obvious, the effect of caste on psychology is not so apparent. More so after it had become laughing stock, particularly because of the distasteful dialogues in tamil/Indian films: "Kavundanukku maanam thaanda perusu. Kudutha vaakka kaappaatha uyira kooda viduvaan." But, consider this: caste and attendant customs/culture carries subliminal messages that form an important aspect of our learning and hence, our attitudes too. Now, seemingly absurd statement like "Enna verum 38 kilo thaane nu paakkuriya? Verum body weighta vechu thappaa kanakku podatha di. En odambula odarathu Thevar raththam di." acquires a different color.

In a sense, casteism is broadly in sync with Frederick Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management and Division of Labor. Broadly, the castes have been defined based on the work the people in that community do. It is very important to remember that the defining feature of castes is the work. By imposing strict rules, the system tries to maintain the environment as constant as possible and tries to keep the noise out, all in an effort to create "the better worker". Viewed through this paradigm, the water-tight compartmentalization of castes acquire unforeseen ground for their "imposed" sanctity.

Thus, marriages within the caste ensured a minimum workable compatibility between the couple. But, all this is not relevant, once the public school started replacing the family (read caste) as the source of "education". Now, armed with new knowledge, people are employed outside the definitions of the work according to their caste. With this, the caste should be changed as the work has changed: so we have TCSian, Wiproite and Infosyian. Again, the compatibility between two Wiproites is moot. Even if the compatibility is great, it is better not to get married, unless you want to ruin your not-so-spicy office life even further. Probably, the "perils of marrying your colleague" requires another long post.

Now, most of you would have realized the hopelessness of the situation you are in. No matter how hard to try to find the "best" partner, your signals to genes are going to get distorted by the information deluge around us and the odds of getting a "better" offspring are stacked against you. Pray to probability.

George Bernard Shaw was approached by a famous actress.
"Mr.Shaw, we should have a child. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it was born with your brains and my beauty?"

"But have you considered, Madam," he replied, "how terrible it would be for the poor creature if it were born with my beauty and your brains?"

A little longer disclaimer...

This is NOT to justify, in whatever little way, the atrocities committed in the name of caste. I know there is a big fallacy in attributing such "superior, scientific meaning" to anything, let alone casteism, post facto. Also, I have conveniently avoided a look at the innumerable subdivisions in the caste system.

That said, this is in no way to provide any reason, however flimsy it might be, against inter-caste marriages, for the simple yet unavoidable fact that the evolution cannot be done in vitro: the lab conditions cannot be replicated in the real flesh and blood world. To keep the environment constant is impossible.

2 comments:

Sathiyan said...

Nee endha caste ponnuku da bit ah podure?

Anonymous said...

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