What Millennials Aren’t Taught About Caste

Social Commentary

What Millennials Aren’t Taught About Caste

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


round 12 years ago, we sat in the verandah of my home in a Himachal village, my grandmother and I, pining together for the winter sun. We’ve always had the kind of relationship where her tongue, slippery from old age, found steady, comforting ground in the curiosity of my ears. But that day I was less than happy. She had just told me that two houses in our small hamlet of seven, were built to not face the sun or another family because they were occupied by “different” people. Naturally, I was not allowed to visit them because one family belonged to the OBC category, while the other was SC. Both these houses still stand, in the shade of the dense forests they face, hiding, or perhaps forced to hide.

This is just the sort of thing that I was unaware of as a child – and for a long time, as a grown-up who is otherwise in sync with reality. Upper-caste millennials like me grew up cocooned, oblivious to how caste affects those around them, because we’ve never had to confront it. We see caste as that hook-as-bait at the end of our privileged swims. We discount it, or are simply too numb-skulled to observe how it has shaped our destinies.