ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caste, Communalism, and Technology


The relentless and remorseless use of technology has always been under the ethical and moral scanner. Opponents have been holding the overuse of technology responsible for the ruin of both nature and human being. However, the focus of such critique, though reasonable, has been on the overuse of technology, which has given undue material advantage to private enterprises. It is needless to argue that the bias working in favour of the private interest is not inbuilt within technology. In fact, it has been introduced from outside, making technology relatively more amenable to some. Put differently, technology does not have control over its own use or even abuse. For example, technology used in constructing houses does not discriminate in the disposal of houses. It does not decide the question as to whom the houses be given, whether for rent or sale. Thus, it is the human being firmly formatted with an ideologically driven bias, which is practised in the housing industry related transactions, that has increasingly witnessed social discrimination—against Dalits and members from the minority community in particular and the non-vegetarian in general. Residential complexes and buildings do not become vegetarian or non-vegetarian on their own accord, but are made to bear this social identity given by those who inhabit these residential complexes and occupy these buildings.

Other areas of technology are supposed to be hospitable to a transaction based on the element of rationality and not the irrationality that is internal to casteism and communalism. Photocopying machines, for example, as rational technological devices, do not have an element of caste bias internal to them. The machine scans and copies whatever documents put under it. But certain photocopying machines refuse to scan documents such as caste certificates. It will be absurd to believe that casteism is internal to the photocopying machine and that the machine has a natural feeling to be repulsive to a caste certificate. Obviously, it is the operator who, by virtue of possessing a rigid image of an upper caste, regulates the operation of a machine. It is the ingrained casteism that leads them to reject any request for photocopying the caste certificate. In fact, an upper caste themselves become an organic machine that scans the lived image of a Dalit. And this frozen image, which is fixed in the upper-caste minds, ultimately rejects photocopying the caste certificate. It is this mindset that tampers with the rationality of a machine which, by itself, bears no traces of casteism. The technology used would not take objection. But it is the human being that would and does.

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Updated On : 9th Oct, 2021
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