Sunday 23 June 2024

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Beyond the Horizon

'Nobody' requires help; not 'Somebody'


Now when anybody wants to know my surname, I directly ask them, “Do you want to know my caste?” That shuts them up. And I have no regrets.

He was snoring very softly. His mouth was wide open. He was sitting in a Mumbai bound bus right next to me. It was a funny sight to look at. I chuckled to myself not because of the sight, but because a wild thought struck me. This man was a foreigner, most probably a German, and yet he was the same as us, snoring away with his mouth wide open.

Then why do we make this differentiation between Indians and foreigners? Why these compartmentalisations based on countries, regions, religions, language, caste, creed and colour etc?

Basically we are all humans, aren't we? We have a similar anatomy, our heartbeats, our pulse rate is supposed to have similar speed; our breathing style is the same. The colour of our blood is the same. Then why do we make these differences?

When we want to know any person, we want to know their surnames more than their names so that we can identify their caste. In my younger days, I didn't know these nitty-gritties of Goan society. So I would try to explain to them about myself, and some of them, when they realised that I did not ‘fit' in their bracket, just gave me a look-over. And  that was it.  

Now when anybody wants to know my surname, I directly ask them, "Do you want to know my caste?" That shuts them up. And I have no regrets.

I was introduced to AIR programs by Mr. Yusuf Shaikh. After that I started getting contracts. Once when I went to perform, one senior program officer looked at my poem and heard my delivery of poems. I think he was impressed with what he saw. He asked me about my background and I told him. Of course, I didn't have an "illustrious" background. After he heard me, somehow he lost interest in me. Every time I went to perform, he would be polite with me.

And then I got married. Both my in-laws are freedom fighters. They are also from social movement and are well known in Goa. That's the time I saw a change of attitude in this AIR officer. He would speak to me very warmly, he would go out of his way to help me and would proudly introduce me to others as ‘amchem‘. His attitude did hurt me because initially in my younger days, I needed help and encouragement. But I think according to him, at that time, I was a ‘nobody'.

But these ‘nobodies' require help and not ‘somebody'.

On the other hand, many people wanted association with me because I belonged to ‘Bhaujan Samaj.' They got very upset with me when I married a ‘Brahmin'. Anyway, I stayed away from such elements earlier and I keep my distance now too.

But I always wonder, why do we wrap up ourselves in so many coverings of caste, creed, religion and region? Actually we are like candles, we may have different shapes, sizes, colour, and odour. But in the end, when a candle is melted, it is just simple plain wax. Are we different from that?

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

CONGRESS Supporters always speak about CASTE (Caste Politics).

BJP Supporters always speak about RELIGION (Religion Politics).

It is the tradition politics of Congress & BJP who divides Goans in the name of Language, Religion, Caste, etc. Without dividing Goans, they cannot win. They kept alive this Language, Caste, Reservation & Religion Politics to make them the winner and Honest Party the looser.

Jack De Goan |


I have seen & heard a lot about your social activities, & respect you a lot.

Hence I just couldn't resist reading your blogs.

I just want you to clarify....

Do you support castism or not.

Above write up does not state it clearly.

Hope you spare time to reply.

Jeetu |

For a lot of Goans it had always been a way of life to differentiate on the basis of caste and it still continues in a big way. Having lived most of my life in Goa, I was quite in line with the same thing - thanks to the communal way of thinking. However, ever since I've stepped beyond the borders of Goa for my work life - the B word has taken such a hit and has far disappeared from the realms of my conversation or thought process.

Today I do not even bother with the caste -- but you know what a new barrier of differentiation has come up - Goans and non Goans! So when in Pune I meet a Goan - its " ho amcho/amche". My friends who are studying in the US tell me that the factor becomes Indian/Asians (including Pakistanis in their group). Isn't that strange that they would hate the tribe here but have no issues about it in a foreign land!

I guess that's how humans are all over. They always want to have some one their side and some on the other side. At different places, different times the factor changes. Having said so I do not say that it's right. I have come to believe that respect an honest man's effort and knowledge and perhaps appreciate a little bit - without any bias on where he comes from. As long as he has set forth on the quest of better life for him and those who trust him.

Hope to hear back your two cents on this!

Pranam Shetye |




its just too sad to know that being educated we just tend to follow word "caste". Nowadays its not just the ability, performance, intelligence of the person that works in acquring the top position or good job but caste.The first question people tend to ask in any social gathering is what's your sirname? just to know our caste. Even the forms which we fill up in any educational institution compulsarely has space where one need to write his/her caste!

And the one who tries to counter question the caste or rituals, ceremonies related to is being considered to be out of world and being ignored! Its just have to be start from each one to oppose all the unwanted things related to caste rather than make others understand!

(student Goa University)

sneha naik |

I, too, think that family names create a casteist and/ or parochial environment. However, some way of identifying a person as different from another has to be there. Other way would be to have identification numbers such as mobiles have or postal codes. Either solution will be unwieldy and cumbersome. I suppose only real solution will be to rationalise the whole concept of caste or racial differences.

Research has shown that there is no pure race in India since over the last two thousand or more years a good mixture of all tribes and communities in India has taken place through cross breeding. This work was in news a few weeks ago and also appears in ‘New Scientist’, a weekly magazine on science.

It’s not only Hindus who have caste system but even Catholics in Goa continue with the caste they had before the conversions took place. And, are they fighting bitterly over it? Talk about religious difference. Aren’t we having only one religion in Goa and also in India, called Indianism with all its + or - points?

Another point is, Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi had been exchanging letters and reportedly, Einstein told Gandhi that caste free society is impossible because it is not that only the uppermost caste belittles the lower ones but even these low castes belittle ones still below. A brief look at news reports from the rest of the country or nearer home in Goa will bring this out very succinctly. This is not to defend the caste system but my crusade for rationalisation in all walks of life so that we cast away the problems we have inherited

Kalidas |

Its been Long time ,Mrs.Prashanti was my teacher in People’s school Panjim she used to teach me Konkani.I remember her being bold and courageous ready to take on anybody who happens to be wayward.I really appreciate this article of hers no doubt and absolutely true this kind of differentiation really happens in our society .It is our duty to stand against it.

Paul.Dias |

thanks mam for sharing your experience with us.i appriciate your effort and fighting spirit the way you are presnting yoursfelf when someone ask ur surname.we need a transformation in our cast and religion.hope it will come soon if we have people like you

manoj naik |

I appreciate your great views mam, u r great. always write something like this, so that others can open their eyes after reading this. thank you mam.

(rohan, adv student 2005-2006)

rohan prabhakar kalangutkar |

**Nobody requires help not somebody**

Prashanti Bravo your above article. In Goa we

still have those systems, Caste, Creed, religion etc. Europe, American no one believe in such things. They believe only

in humanity. Keep writing such articles, so the rest of the world opens their eyes.

Domnick Rodrigues |

The article is pretty good, whoever reads the article, specially those who face such(Caste, Creed, Sex, Colour, Religion, Region) difference, they surely get health boost to face the challenge. I appreciate your views....We are the one human race on this lone planet.

Jos Cardozo |


I always admire you as a brave girl of Canacona so also Sandesh. I fully support your views but for 2nd last para of your above text. On one side you are against caste sytem and the other side you are declaring yours & husband's caste? No NEED at all. Does this caste system stii preveilved in your mind?

Shekhar |

Very well said prashanti talpankar truly agree with your thoughts ..we need persons like you in india to discard caste system..god knows when our people wll be united ...people dont understand simple thing>>paths are many but destination is one

Dj Pomu |

It is a tragedy that the caste system still exists even after more than six decades of gaining independence. May be the politicians are interested to perpetuate this system for their own benefits. Abolishing surnames and eliminating the caste column from all forms/census would help in getting rid of this issue which is dividing the society!

vishwas prabhudesai |

Sadly the caste system in Goa is a big BLOT. The biggest enemy of Goa and humankind.

I sincerely hope guys like Prashanti et al. do something about it to bring it down-- not just for themselves-- but for the whole of society.

Wish you good luck my friends.

Jagan |

I truly agree with Prashanti .. I have been brought up in Goa with this caste system in Mind for most part of my youth I refrained from it and made friends without any constraints ... I think it helped me made more friends seven seas apart. Today I see one of the social evils in the way of development for India is the caste system and the leverage people take from it.

It is justified to help someone who is economical backward but just bcoz you belong to some caste should not be the basis to get a job or be on a position -- I think the position/job should be strictly on MERIT.

Amit |

This is truly inspirational, thanks for sharing

sanjay dessai |

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Prashanti Talpankar

Prashanti Talpankar is a teacher by profession, teaching in college. A social activist from student days, she also writes short stories, children's stories, drama scripts and columns for newspapers. She also acts in films and dramas.


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