A caste-based system of inequity distinguishes Indian society. One of the cruellest is caste, which deals with a social structure that has defined the Indian civilisation for more than 2,500 years (Macdonell, 1914). In India, caste is extremely important and Indians are split into various castes.
The caste system, according to Periyar E. V. Ramasamy, is incompatible with equality and self-respect. Thanks to Periyar and his social justice campaign, Tamil Nadu, also known as Periyar Land, has got away from caste labels and titles. But, in fact, we must consider if caste labels have been removed from public spaces. It will also look at how, rather than caste destruction, and Facebook promotes caste unity and consolidation. It will look into the caste discourse on Facebook for the following three dominant castes: Nadar, Thevar and Vanniyar. All the aforesaid castes were once subjugated to caste discrimination, and despite many efforts, they were unable to accomplish upliftment.
In the mid-1980s, the Vanniyar Sangam led a series of violent protests claiming a separate reservation for the Vanniyar people. According to the organisation, Vanniyars make up more than 25% of the state’s population, thus they should be awarded at least 20% reserve. They claimed that the Vanniyar people received just 1% of the entire benefits from the OBC reservation of 50%. The leaders of the Vanniyar community resolved to rally the community’s members and start a huge battle (Sruti, 2021).
Kerala’s caste system established a rigorous code of etiquette that was imposed by the monarchy (Gupta, 2017; KD & Manoharan, 2021). Girls were required to bare their chests in front of the upper caste individuals as a sign of esteem. Women from lower castes were denied the privilege to wear clothing that went above their waist (Santhosh, 2020). If Dalits sought to hide their breasts, she would have to pay the ‘Mulakaram’ breast tax. Women from the Chanars (Nadar) were also banned from wearing dresses that went over their waists (Santhosh, 2020). As a result of the various battles and sacrifices made by Nangeli and her husband, the Maharaja of Travancore was forced to issue a royal edict in 1859 allowing all women to cover their bodies (Gupta, 2017; KD & Manoharan, 2021).
The Criminal Tribes Act, established during several eras of British control in India, is a statute that discriminates against specific ethnicities. It was passed for the first time in 1871. It is mostly intended for the North Indian community. This law was enacted on 12 October 1871, against some parts of the Indian community that engaged in piracy. It was established in order to suppress specific thievery communities among Indians by imprisoning them for as long as the authorities desired in order to prevent them from being freed on bond for offences such as theft. Caste males, particularly those aged 16–60, who have been placed on the criminal list, should be monitored by the police. Every day, they will be fingerprinted. Some groups, such as Kallar, Maravar, Ambalakarar and Valaiyar, were included in the fingerprint law among the aforesaid castes. Previously, the above three castes were subjected to caste discrimination; but, as a result of their rise, they are now discriminating against the lower castes.
According to Sadat, social media plays a significant role in socialisation. People typically post news items, blog pieces, events, art and literature, their views, and opinions, and so on on their Twitter or Facebook status updates (Sadat et al., 2014). According to the CSDS Lokniti programme 2019 report, upper castes are more likely to be extremely active on Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram than other communities. It was shown that 15% of upper castes had high social media usage, 8% of dalits and 7% of tribal tribes had high usage and 9% of OBC communities had highly used social media (Abbas, 2019). Today’s social media is not the great equaliser that was promised a decade ago (Mandal, 2020). Unfortunately, social media also offers a platform for closet or overtly casteist persons to perpetuate discrimination, spread hatred and sustain casteism under the veil of creating good social media narratives (Vijayaraghavan & Vijayaraghavan, 2021).
The whole individuals are not enthusiastic about a democratic society, so small numbers of people have isolated themselves. They really are not intermingled in with other castes; instead, they are deliberately kept away, and they are curious to talk about their caste pride, caste purity and caste seclusion. No research publications looked at this topic from the standpoint of media and communication. As a result, there is a gap to analyse postings that contain the hashtags #Nadar, #Thevar and #Vanniyar.
In this study, Netnography is used, with the participant observation focusing on online fieldwork. Netnography is an anthropological approach to the study of cultures and civilisations that develop as a result of computer-mediated communication, allowing the researcher to investigate what is publicly available on the Internet. Instead of having any researcher engagement with the online community, the study concentrated on collecting archive data by using existing communications. Thematic analysis is used to examine postings containing the hashtags #Nadar, #Thevar and #Vanniyar.
This article shows how the dominant castes’ otherwise be present in face-to-face interaction, creating a fertile atmosphere for abuse to flourish, especially hate directed towards caste-based postings these days. Decades of ‘conventional’ portrayals, such as those based on caste discrimination and trivialisation, have resulted in this being repeated on social media platforms.