What is the Caste System in India?
The caste system in India is a complex hierarchical structure of social stratification that has its roots in Hinduism Its purpose is to assign individuals to specific social categories based on their birth and/or occupation. This system dictates a person’s social status and responsibilities, rights, activities and privileges throughout their life. India’s caste system is the most extreme and pervasive form of social stratification in the world, and its effects are still felt in the country today.
The system is based on the concept of hereditary membership and can be divided into four distinct classes, or Varnas. At the top of the hierarchy is the Brahmins, which consists of priest, scholars and teachers. The Kshatriyas are the second class and are composed of rulers, warriors and administrators. Members of the third class, the Vaishyas, are merchants, traders and farmers. The fourth and lowest class is the Shudras and they are composed of laborers and servants. Outside of the traditional classes is the Dalits, or Untouchables. This group is seen as a slightly distinct caste and is composed of laborers and those performing manual, hazardous labor.
Despite attempts to abolish the system, it still affects the lives of millions of individuals in India today. Here are five examples of how the Caste System still affects India today.
1. Discrimination: Despite laws that prohibit discrimination based on caste, it is still commonly practiced. Individuals from lower castes are often discriminated against in employment, education, housing and even healthcare.
2. Marriage: Marriage outside of one’s caste is still discouraged and in some cases even illegal. Inter-caste marriages are also not widely accepted and can lead to social isolation and ostracism.
3. Education: Lower castes are often at a disadvantage when it comes to education. Schools in many areas are still segregated, with those from lower castes often attending inferior schools with fewer resources.
4. Social Exclusion: Lower caste individuals often face social exclusion due to their caste, which can prevent them from accessing job opportunities and other social services.
5. Political Participation: Those from the lower castes may face difficulty in participating in politics due to their lack of education, resources and support from higher castes.
The caste system in India is a complex system that affects the lives of millions of individuals in the country. Despite attempts to abolish it, its effects are still felt today in the form of discrimination, marriage restrictions, educational inequality and social exclusion.