By Sheshu Babu
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining ‘No Caste, No Religion’ certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing ‘humanity’, ‘agnostic’ , ‘secular’ or ‘non-religious’ in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.
Indeed, such significant steps go a long way in creating progressive ideas among educated as well as ordinary people of the country. On February 5 , 2019, Sneha Parthibaraja, the Tamil Nadu woman, became what revenue officials claim, the first Indian woman who has been issued the ‘No Caste, No Religion’ certificate.
Say reports, now, Sneha’s parents have been leaving columns of caste and religion blank in application forms as and when they fill them up. But their daughter Sneha has a step forward: To make this part of her identity ‘official’.
Sneha, an advocate, has been trying for such a certificate since 2010. “I started to apply for a (No Religion No Caste) certificate in 2010 but officials kept rejecting it for some reason. Some said there was no precedent in the country…”, she has been quoted as saying. But after 2017, she reportedly stood firmly on her decision and explained to officials on her stand and justified her intentions.
According to B Priyanka Pankajam, the sub-collector of Tirupattur, they decided to give the certificate to Sneha after verifying all her documents and finding the caste and religion columns blank.
A community certificate or a caste certificate is a record issued by a State government, which gives information that a particular person belongs to a particular community like scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribe (ST) or other backward class (OBC). In its place, she obtained the ‘No Caste No Religion’ certificate. Two of her sisters, Jennifer and Mumtaz, have also identified themselves as Indians without caste or religion.
In an interview to Vanita TV channel, the first woman-centric channel, run by Rachana Television (Telugu), published on September 4 2019, Sneha explains the struggles for a casteless and religionless society, which were visualized, among others, by Marx, Ambedkar and Periyar. She says that this is a victory of ideology. She has struggled for about nine years to achieve her goal, she points out.
Need of the hour
In a country where caste system is deeprooted in society and religious hatred is on the rise, progressive thinking is the need of the hour. For a better society, caste system and religious hatred should be annihilated at the earliest.
It is not without significance that a division bench of the High Court in Chennai a few days back refused to remove the inscription “There is no God” at the pedestals of the Periyar statues across the state. In its 68 page order, the bench said that Periyar’s philosophy was the cause of movement for self respect of the downtrodden classes of society.
Such positive instances enhance the secular and socialist fabric of our country.