In India, you have to be very careful about your words and phrases; more so, when you crack an innocent joke. If you happen to be a minister or an MP, make sure that you don’t deviate from your subject, especially when you are addressing a press conference. “So, you traveled in cattle class?”, a reporter may ask you and without any ill-feeling you might say ‘Yeah, in a cattle class… I was among the holy cows”, An innocent joke, no doubt. But you are doomed. Very soon the joke is depicted as an insult to the poor and your rivals take full advantage of the confusion. If you are smart enough, you will apologise and save your skin. If you try to explain, the air will be thick with demands for your resignation.
The crux of the matter is that you have to be matter-of-fact when you are talking about certain castes or the poor. At the same time, you have nothing to fear when you are talking about the so-called upper castes. You can crack any jokes or even insult them. No one will raise any noise, not even the affected person.