Last month, a Class 12 student died in a school in Tamil Nadu after a fight with another student over a wrist thread. If this sounds baffling to you, let me add a crucial detail: the thread was a marker of caste.
Tamil Nadu is seen as one of India’s most progressive states, with better social indicators than others. The credit for this is often given to the early success of the anti-caste movement in dismantling upper-caste hegemony, among other things, through the implementation of reservations in government jobs in the 1920s.
But for all the gains made by the state, a century later, caste continues to be a source of social strife. In southern Tamil Nadu, it is so intense that not only are communities asserting their identities through wrist threads, even children are wearing them to school.
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