The Caste System

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The caste system in India is a system that segregates people into a hierarchy of social classes, namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, Sudras and Dalit, based on family lineage and occupations. Even though the caste system dates way back in the ancient Hindu life but it was only formalized under the British colonial rule. Since then, the rigid caste system, which restricts social mobility for the lower castes and the Untouchables, has been internationally criticized for being oppressive and discriminative. However, since the 19th centuries, there have been notable attempts by individual groups to challenge and exploit the caste system. Therefore, despite India’s caste system being commonly thought of as a fixed system based on birthrights and …show more content…
Based on the fundamental principles of purity and pollution, these strict caste rules not only restrict what people can or cannot do; they also constitute a pollution barrier that limits whom people can or cannot interact with. For instance, individuals are disallowed from marrying, socializing or even eating with other individuals from a different caste. This is because the upper castes are regarded as pure and spiritually superior and therefore, interaction with lower castes, especially the Untouchables, is deemed as polluting and degrading. This restriction on social interaction amongst different castes is extremely limiting for Indians under the caste system and especially disadvantageous for Indians of the lower castes and the Untouchables. Robbed off the opportunity to interact with and form social bonds with people from the upper castes, people of the lower castes and the Untouchables are prevented from gaining access to valuable social capital and networks that are crucial to attaining social and occupational mobility. With this severe lack of …show more content…
As a result, many people of the lower castes remain stigmatized, socially excluded and economically disadvantaged. However, undeniably, things are getting better. In recent years, there have been visible attempts by the government to protect people of the lower castes, such as the 1989 Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In addition, quota-based affirmative action such as reservation of seats in parliament and spots in universities for the lower castes also attempts to level the playing field for the traditionally disadvantaged castes. All these policies, to a certain extent, empower people of the lower castes with more opportunities to attain higher levels of education, better paying jobs and greater political representation. Therefore, despite the rigidity of the India’s caste system, people of the lower castes are becoming increasingly able to challenge the caste system and rise up the social ladder. In conclusion, despite the fact that lives of Indians are still very much affected by the caste system, persistent and organized individual actions can and will continue to challenge and shape caste

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