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India's disgrace: recruitment in government service depends on caste

Editorial Staff

You can't keep a good man (or woman) down, unless you're the Indian government in which case your caste, or formal class, can bar you from being employed. How do they know? You have to present a certificate of your caste before even getting an interview.

A decision by the Indian High Court several months ago said that if person obtained a job by using a fraudulent caste certificate and remained in post for a number of years, he could keep the job even if he was found out.

But on 6th July, the Supreme Court said that, if it is discovered that a person is employed under a false certificate of caste, he can be summarily dismissed.

Now, an investigation by Daily News and Analysis, an Indian newspaper, has found that private sector employers are also demanding to see caste certificates and that, if fakes are discovered, are dismissing employees.

The caste system is utterly iniquitous and the Supreme Court was in a quandary: it is a global standard that if a person obtains work on the basis of false statements, then he obtains pecuniary advantage by deception - the classic definition of fraud. It is almost an immutable truth that in such circumstances the employee would be fired. But the offence is designed to deal with falsification of qualifications or work history or, even, identity.

Can you imagine a civilised country that demands that only black, or white, or Christian or Muslim, or Indian or Chinese applicants are welcome?

In India, the caste system is a ruthless and immensely unjust way of keeping the poorest people poor while protecting the claimed rights of those who say they are elite. But it is not only economic: low caste people are not permitted to join certain organisations: it's apartheid on the most obnoxious level.

The Supreme Court therefore had the chance to do something revolutionary: it had the opportunity to say that employers should not call for caste certificates and should not discriminate during selection or employment on the basis of caste. Its comments would have been obiter but they would have carried weight. Then again, judges are all from higher castes and are imbued in the culture.

That if failed to do is a disgrace and marks India, no matter how much it things it is modernising, as a backward nation, almost medieval in its thinking.

It needs to sort this out. Fast.

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