Shyam Bandhu Subedi Seventh week, Advanced Conflict Theory

Submitted to: Prof. Johan Galtung, TRANSCEND Peace University

In the first and second week, I had picked a very broader topic of Structural violence and the cultural mechanisms to legitimize it as a problem badly in need of peace. Now I am trying to be more specific on cultural legitimization of structural violence in the case of caste system in Hindu religion. Though, it is not clearly inscribed in original religious-philosophical texts, but it is widely practiced as part of Hindu religion particularly in Nepal and India. Caste system-cultural violence-structural violence 'Cultural violence' generally refers to aspects of culture that can be used to justify or legitimize direct or structural violence. It makes direct and structural violence look or feel "right," or at least not wrong, according to Prof. Galtung. Caste system, though is an illegal system in the eyes of official laws, it is ‘legitimized’ for centuries previously by state and still by society as a norm. That is instigating direct violence in India as well as in Nepal. The longest civil war in India, i.e., Naxalites-Maoist insurgency is largely supported by those lower-caste people who represent the poorest strata of society. In the same way, people from lower caste overwhelmingly joined in Nepal’s civil war against the feudal monarchy, that used to represent so-called Hindu upper class Kshetrias and Brahmins. The traditional Indian and Nepali social structure is highly characterized by a hierarchal caste system. An essential feature of the caste system is the unequal and hierarchical ordering of various powers whether social, economic, cultural, civil, cultural or political. The Brahmins who are placed at the top of caste hierarchy enjoy most power and the Dalits (or Lower Castes) who are placed at the bottom of caste hierarchy are denied any power. They depend and serve the higher castes. As a result, this seriously impacts on their ability to fulfill the freedoms they value. Freedom for limited caste and strata ultimately results conflict (positive) in near future. That is happening in India and Nepal. Caste-system (structural violence) results in direct violence The social structure determines the political structure at large and vice versa. The power structure of India and Nepal curtails the freedom of Dalits to choose to live as they desire. It

• Caste system is against the values of real democracy. Feudalism is the deep rooted vice in Indian culture somehow protected by political/religious parties including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Some scriptures (not original Hindu Philosophical texts) proclaimed the king as a god in human form and protector and preserver castes and castes order. Poor people generally represent so called Lower caste.plays a fundamental role in the perpetuation of their poverty and the vicious cycle of poverty. India has passed a long journey from Princely states and claims itself a ‘largest democracy’ in the world but the gap between rich and poor is terribly wide. Its just been 4 years the monarchy. now the Maoists movements is largely supported by the poor Dalits who are structurally been whirled into this vicious cycle. It does not essentially uphold the values of real Hinduism. So. abolition of feudal monarchy. if it represents only the higher caste elites is a pre-requisite. the structure from top to the lower level is still the same. The king took upon themselves the task of protecting the caste system and preventing caste intermixture while the priests performed sacrificial ceremonies and purifications ceremonies seeking the welfare of the king and a place for him in heaven. and socio-political (non) representation continues as a never ending process. Assessing the power structure of the caste system is important to understand the dynamics of well-being of Dalits. Ways for solution • The caste system was preserved and enforced mostly through royal support. The relationship between the priestly and warrior class was one of the convenience. Decentralization with a right of self determination can promote the representation of Dalits in power structure and implement the principles of direct democracy. so that they can rule themselves. So. representative of feudal aristocracy. in the guise of democracy should be transformed to direct democracy ensuring the right of selfdetermination of those oppressed people. but not the complete solution to end caste system. such as universal brotherhood. and tolerance to each other. Something positive has started. Dalit Movements in either form may erupt to get outside of this vicious cycle or this kind of grievances may support some extremist ideologies including Naxalites-Maoists confronting with the existing political structures. fundamental rights and individual freedom. The feudal political structure. However. has dissolved. but still many things to do for political. economic efficiency. In Nepal. Power does matter and must be studied systematically in greater detail in order to understand better the ability of people to do or be what they have reason to choose and value. Social movements such as feasting together (practiced in Nepal to eliminate Caste system) can promote fraternity among the so called high caste and lower caste people. In India. equality and non-discrimination. The direct democratic politics can influence the socio-cultural structure. economic and social well-being of those Dalit people. .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful