Intercaste marriages remained a contentious issue during the anti-caste movement and the liberation war. Inter-caste marriages are viewed as a step toward the abolition of caste. Ambedkar’s famous comment from Annihilation of Caste, in which he said that inter-caste marriages were “the true panacea for destroying caste,” is frequently quoted. Ambedkar believed that “blood union” would produce a sense of kith and kinship.
However, Ambedkar’s admonition has gone unheeded. According to the Indian Human Development Survey, 95% of Indians still find mates inside their subcastes. What about the remaining 5% of the population, who have defied convention and caste? There isn’t enough precise data or adequate coverage of them.
Many second- or third-generation educated Dalits who have gained access to quality education and acquired respectable (elite) positions now have the option of marrying beyond caste. Their marriage is unlike any other. It is a social act, a triumph of love over caste.
When a Dalit marries someone from another caste, say, an upper caste, he or she finds himself or herself torn between their community’s fight and the culture of their wives and in-laws. It’s like getting a nice job in a corporation full of oppressor classes. Rarely does one have the opportunity to balance both.
Children with mixed-race parents grow up with a profound misunderstanding of their multifaceted backgrounds as well. They are raised in a caste-neutral or a-caste milieu, which effectively means they are subjugated to the identity of their dominant caste parent. They only come into contact with caste when they apply for caste reservations or visit their Dalit family. They fear a backlash if they associate themselves with the oppressed caste parent’s need-based identity.
In 2013, the Indian government established a programme to promote inter-caste marriages. If one of the partners is a Dalit, it provides Rs 2.5 lakh. A referral from a sitting MLA/MP and the government officer in question is one of the conditions. The initiative intends to celebrate and promote the “socially courageous action” of the couple. When nations throughout the world are quickly merging across colour, racial, and ethnic lines, the Indian government must provide greater incentives for couples to marry outside of strict limits.
A savarna woman in the United States who married a Dalit guy and became a member of the Dalit community’s network. During encounters, the savarna woman would frequently fail to comprehend her background. Her culture, religion, and festivals differed from those of the Dalit community. Unaware, the savarna lady would elevate her experiences. She eventually forgot about her caste identification and began passively claiming Dalit status. She benefited from the networks provided by her Dalit colleagues since she was a student and an activist.
She was representing Dalits at conferences and seminars within a few months. According to the example above, the concept of inter-caste marriage has become a chance for individuals who have spent a life of actively oppressing Dalits or by participating in anti-Dalit stereotypes to now adopt the position of representing Dalits.
Once two mature persons choose to marry, the agreement of the family or community is not required. Their approval must take precedence. Educated children are paving the road forward by marrying beyond their caste. It will help to alleviate caste and communal conflicts in India. This might be the way ahead in terms of reducing caste and communal conflicts. The court also stressed the importance of precise standards and a training programme for police officers. It will prepare them to deal with inter-caste marriages.
Returning to Ambedkar’s address, he said that in order to abolish the caste system, religious concepts must be destroyed. The sacredness of the Shastras, on which caste was based, must not be degraded by allowing “inter-caste dinners and inter-caste marriages, which were fruitless ways of attaining their aims” on an infrequent basis. Ambedkar is not advocating against inter-caste marriage; rather, he invites us to go deeper, beyond societal constraints. He wants us to be a member of movements that upend and finally transform people’s ideas.