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INDIA’S CASTE SYSTEM

Under the Constitution, the caste system should not determine one’s place in society. The caste system has no legal base in country and discrimination against lower castes is illegal under Article 15 of its constitution. Is that the truth? Is it fair to divide the society by castes?

In reality it is a case, especially in a big part of rural India! In Indian society the caste system is extreme, since many centuries the society got divided into hierarchy levels which reflect the position of one society member over another. The caste system basically indicates the type of occupation an individual can achieve and social interaction that he can have.

Otherwise, in modern society the division between the castes is strong: marriage between different castes is not really respectful and is a sign of intolerance for the higher class and family. Even if the couple from different caste still marrying, they risk to be excluded from the family forever or killed, especially in villages… Mostly inter-caste marriages happen when couple decides to marry because of love, not arranged by family, and agrees to break the social norms. In cities as Mumbai, Goa and Delhi the inter-caste marriage percentage is quite high, however, the average in a country stands at 11 percent of all marriages!

How many castes exist in India?

Normally there are 4 castes and so called ”untouchables” or in Hindu religion Dalits . Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of modern India, made the lowest casts and the untouchable’s a fifth caste, the lowest of the lowest caste in India. All the castes determinate each person’s duties and the person from the lower caste cannot get higher. For this reason, economical development is restricted. Marriage between different castes is a bad sign and status of caste is not changeable: from your birth till your death the caste will remain the same…

Have a look:

  • Brahmins 9% of the total population. Traditionally, the Brahmins caste was the spiritual teachers and guides for princes and warriors. The large community would never accept priest from non-Brahmin or lower castes. The Brahmins are the most respected because generally they are educated, intelligent and influential. For this reason they are active in politics and social life. During the British period, Brahmins been the first to implement the English education system and benefit from political and administrative power. After 1947 independence, many Brahmins became ministers and chiefs.

  

  • Kshatryia The caste was basically based on Warriors and rulers. It is very common to see Kshatryas working in government departments and offices because since long time they were related with administration and power, and often they are collaborating with Brahmins for ruling the country.

  

  • Vaishya Basically the majority of the middle class is composed from Vaishyas and they are mainly merchants and traders. Since long time they were builders of temples, hospitals and other public institutions. Vaishyas are among the lower ranked castes. This caste helped a lot for Indian industry in the 20th century when Vaishyas formed the corporations and built institutions. The Vaishya caste often is associated with business people who are able to negotiate prices easily and finalize business.

  • Sudra The lowest of the caste group and mainly composed of laborers and artisans. Generally they are doing the lowest qualification jobs as shoe cleaners and makers, street and toilet cleaners, servants, cycling riksha drivers… Often they are related with dirty jobs and jobs requiring a lot of energy. Since ages, the Sudra was in service sector: modern slaves at rich people houses. They did not have the same rights in social lives as other higher castes: they been pleased to visit different temples and public facilities… Many Sudras got converted to other more egalitarian religions which support equal rights and opportunities. Because of caste ignorance between higher castes, Sudras started the reformation process to achieve the abolishment of the caste system through the Indian Constitution.

  

  • Untouchables The social group who violated social norms risks getting the punishment and becoming ‘’untouchables’’. They were even fully outside the caste system, separated from the society. It is believed that the contact with people from castes can contaminate others because ‘’untouchables’ ‘are impure and dirty. Even after touching the ‘’untouchable’’ people wash their hands and clothes immediately. Any person from ‘’untouchables’’ are not allowed to eat with the persons from the caste. They do dirty jobs: killing rats, leather-work, cleaning animals’ intestines… and after death they do not have even a right to be cremated!

  

Actually the caste system got stronger during the British colonial regime in 19th century when the British rulers divided strictly the society by castes, giving administrative and ruling jobs for high castes only. Nowadays, the government reserves quotas in public sector jobs for different caste people and trying to delete the barriers between the castes.

That’s how India works! Come to travel, discover and understand the traditions with us!

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