In a pathologically casteist country, someone who is accused of casteist practice, and who professes to be educated, intelligent and somewhat decent, should assume that they are guilty unless proved innocent. If this same person is accused by, not one, but five people, then they would really need to take time off to think through the extremely plausible possibility that they have indeed behaved in a casteist way.
What is casteist behavior really? It comes from a deep rooted underlying belief that the person who is accusing you, is intrinsically inferior by birth. Once you have this underlying premise embedded in your genetic make-up and years of growing up in a society that thrives, grows and survives on this inequity, then everything else is easy.
When you are casteist, your father will tell you that you are not, and that all the fault lies with the person who accuses you. Your mother will tut-tut and say that her poor child is suffering because of all these ‘low caste’ people being allowed into hallowed spaces of knowledge and education. Your brother, who would be a total loser if you deigned to apply on him the same or lower standards as the accused, will huff and puff about all the opportunities he lost because of the accused and their ilk. Your sister, who spends all her time cooking for her overfed children, will tell you that you should have married that rich brahmin from the US instead of teaching the unteachable such as the accused.
Your friends will endlessly ‘like’ your superficial and superfluous introspective posts that ask in a somewhat heart rending way “Why are these accused SO UNGRATEFUL?” Your colleagues who are all from the same breed as you, will add fuel to your fire.
The accusations by the accused then begins to sound like defamation. More than what they say, is that they have the audacity to say it. Knowing as you do, that you have much more social, legal and educational capital than they do, you will viciously use your unmeasurable power to suppress any accusations thrown against you. Yes you may have won the legal battle, but for history and forever, and in the books of truth and justice, you lost a moral war. You – a teacher, who could redeem children from the vicious cycle of oppression by simple acts of kindness and love –used instead your power to beat truth. You used your power to subdue truth.
This is indeed the worst and the most malignant form of casteism and let these words ring in your ears till you die – that you are GUILTY. Guilty in the eyes of truth, guilty in the eyes of justice, guilty in the eyes of fairness. Yes you won a legal battle, yes the media tut-tut in sympathy about your hardship, yes, your university supported you blindly and wholeheartedly as any casteist institution would. You heard from EVERYONE around you that you had indeed been defamed and are now vindicated by a court that is as casteist as you.
The only person in reality who has truly and completely defamed you – is yourself. Every time you look at the mirror, every time you sign with your dominant caste name, every time you give a media interview about how vindicated you feel, remember that you cannot lie to yourself. You cannot lie about how you denied your students knowledge, how you treated them as inferior, how you tried to break them with your words, how dignity, by your definition, is only for a few and not for all your students. Yes, you may have won the legal battle, but you lost a moral one. And you lost in the most undignified way.