A step forward towards annihilation of caste
A fight for nine long years has made her the first woman to achieve a 'No Caste No Religion' certificate in the country. An advocate by profession MA Sneha, from Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu has recently interacted with likeminded people in Hyderabad
A fight for nine long years has made her the first woman to achieve a 'No Caste No Religion' certificate in the country. An advocate by profession, MA Sneha from Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu recently interacted with like-minded people in Hyderabad.
Born to a communist couple Ananda Krishnan and Manimozhi, Sneha was raised without caste and religion all along, with no mention of the same in any of her certificates.
However, while applying for competitive exams or other employment opportunities, the need for producing a caste certificate was felt. In such cases, notarised self-affidavits were submitted that she does not belong to any caste or religion.
"Instead of submitting affidavits this way all the time, it occurred to me that I need to get a 'No Caste No Religion' certificate as a permanent solution," she shared and said that she had applied for one five times in the span of 2010-2017, only to no avail.
As a last resort in 2017, Sneha submitted an application to the Village Administrative Officer explaining her need to obtain one such certificate.
"They had examined all my school records and verified that there was no mention of caste or religion anywhere and have finally agreed to give me the certificate," she said, and disclosed that the Tahsildar can exercise such discretionary powers, because of which she has been able to carve a unique identity for herself.
One must note that such a certificate can be acquired only if their caste and religious identities aren't mentioned in any of their certificates, and in any case otherwise, they must fight it out in the court of law.
An ardent follower of Marx, Ambedkar and Periyar that she is, Sneha's move to obtain a 'No Caste No Religion' certificate received praise and criticism in equal amounts.
Disparaged for being an anti-reservationist move, she expressed that she is a strong supporter of the reservation policy and that she believes it is a defense mechanism for those who have been denied social justice for centuries.
"People from privileged castes who try to acquire this certificate and share the same ideology as me, they are actually increasing the chances of the oppressed sections," she opined, and continued that obtaining one such a certificate is only a start and wouldn't really eradicate the deep-rooted structural inequalities in the system.
Speaking of how the system provides each individual with a right to mention which caste/religion they belong to but doesn't quite let people go on record to say they associate with neither, "the 'No Caste No Religion' certificate is the first stone thrown to dismantle such a system that assigns caste at birth," she asserted, and added that she has donated her body for funeral processions to be free of caste and religion even after death.
She concluded that youth must be vigilant of all that is happening around them and collectively protest anti-social moves.
Seeking inspiration from Sneha, three brothers Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev from Ooty, Tamil Nadu have also acquired the same certificate recently.
Another gentleman, Ravi from Haryana, also put up a legal fight to obtain the same certificate, which was unfortunately revoked in just a week's time as it speaks of No Caste, No Religion and No God.
DV Rama Krishna Rao, who is a contract employee in Telangana, and wife, Clarance Krupalini have been legally battling for their daughters to normalise the right to reject caste and religion for 12 years now.
"When the government can ask people to let go of their gas subsidies for the downtrodden sections, why can't the same government encourage the privileged communities to let go of their caste and religion? This way, won't the oppressed sections have an increased benefit from reservations," he quizzed.
Another couple, SA David, who is a research scholar from Osmania University and wife, Rupa, a journalist, have also joined the fight recently to gift their newborn an identity free of caste and religion.
"Like we have an option called NOTA to reject all the candidates listed in elections, why can't we have an option in forms and applications to reject caste and religion too?" he questioned and stated that it is necessary.
It is interesting to note that D Suresh Kumar is the advocate in both the cases, who also strongly believes in bringing a Government Order to constitutionally reject both caste and religion.
According to the previous Census report, 28 lakh people have not mentioned their religion in a country with 1.3 billion population.
The Kerala Government has announced that 10 lakh people in their State have the same ideology and chose to opt out from boxing themselves into a caste/religion.
A recent report about a college in Kolkata has added the option of "humanity" in their forms for students who do not associate with any caste/religion.