Caste and Class are not separate concepts or projects
Jana Shatabdi trains are one of the prides of our middle classes. After Rajdhaani, it was the Shataabdis that offered us the dreams of speed and comfort (i.e., reservation) (and if one wants to see evidence for the expansion of the middle class and its dreams, one need only look at the increase in similar ‘comfortable’ services, not only in trains, but in air travel, education, housing, etc. etc. The state is basically taking up large amounts of commons and offering them to private capital to produce and consume).
Jana Shatabdi trains run between important local cities. They stop at intermediate small-towns and district capitals, thus inviting a lot of people who travel daily for a living. All seats have to be reserved, but when daily commuters see empty seats, why would they stay back? That is why, Indian law permits for a person with a reserved ticket to make an unreserved traveler vacate “his/her” seat, whether pregnant or old or PH. And hereon, unreserved travelers keep increasing in the gangway between the two gates on the two sides of compartments, while “comfortable”, reserved travel takes place in the seats. In these kind of trains, these contradictions are merely visible; they are far more acute in long distance travel. Continue reading A Note on Caste and Class