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February 12, 2017

Essay - Caste System in India

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Caste System in India

Overview
  • The origin of caste system in India.
  • The division of caste system in India. 
  • Casteism also exists among the other religion communities.
  • Contribution of different reformers. 
  • Strong feeling of casteism exists. 
  • Governments initiatives to do away the injustice. 
  • Our Constitution banned casteism.
Indian caste system is among the oldest forms of social stratification surviving in the world. The origin of caste system traces its roots to the coming of the white Aryan race in India. The white race successfully conquered the dark coloured races present at that time in India. The Aryan race considered itself as the preferred and superior caste to the other dark coloured castes. This laid down the foundation of the caste system on the basis of the colour in our country.

However, with time the needs of the feudal society gave way to an occupational division of labour in the society. The system divided Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups namely the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras.


The Brahmins were at the top of the pyramids and were considered as intellectuals. They were followed by Kshatriyas who were the warriors and the rulers. The third in the order were the Vaishyas or the traders. At the bottom of the pyramid were the Shudras. There is a belief that these groups originated from the body of the Hindu God Brahma. Brahmins are considered to originate from the head of Brahma, warriors from his arms, Vaishyas were created from his thighs and Shudras were created from his feet.

The Brahmins were considered as the intellects who were the middle men between God and men. Kshatriyas were the ones who were to protect the people and fight wars. Vaishyas lent the money, cultivate land and indulged in trade activities.

Shudras were expected to serve the other castes and indulge in menial activities. Chandalas were the lowest among the Shudras. Besides the main castes, there were many castes and sub castes prevalent in the system. Under this system, the people from different castes used to live separately in segregated colonies.

The lower caste people were not allowed to share the same public utilities such as schools, wells etc with the upper caste. The upper castes were endowed with a large number of benefits and lower castes were subjected to repressive and unjust behaviour. The caste system is not restricted to the Hindu religion. Castes also exist among the Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious communities.

From time to time, many social reformers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jyotirao Phule, Swami Vivekananda and Dr BR Ambedkar had strongly opposed the widely prevalent caste system in the country. Social distance is one of the major reasons of prevalence of casteism in India.

All the Indian castes are closed groups and they prefer to be restricted within their castes for marriage, social interactions, etc. People are not willing to look beyond their so-called boundaries and accept the people from other communities.

This attitude, in turn, strengthens the castes making it difficult to do away with the mental barriers of the people. Illiteracy and lack of education also contribute to the same. People still want to stick to their old traditions, norms and customs. This is the reason inter-caste marriages are strongly opposed in certain sections of the society. People who try to break away these barriers are subjected to different atrocities.

There has been a rampant increase in the cases of honour killing across the country. Feeling of casteism is so strong that people are willing to take the law and order in their hands. In fact, the relations also take a back seat in such cases.

In order to uplift the backward classes, the government announced quotas for lower caste people in the government jobs and educational institutions. This was done to do away with the historical injustices and prejudices associated with the Indian caste system. The government wanted to provide equal opportunities to the backward castes and bring them at par with the upper castes.

The modern caste system has Scheduled Class, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, and Physically Handicapped Quota. There are certain other quotas such as Defence, Kashmiri Migrant Quotas, Single Girl Child quota etc. At present, India offers 49.5% reservation across the different domains. However, the modern social stratification instead of abolishing the differences has strengthened the roots of the caste system in our country.

Casteism has become a major hindrance to India's socio-economic development. The nation seems to be divided into a large number of groups and subgroups.

This is a serious threat to the nationalism of the country. The politicians of our country have been exploiting these differences to create their vote banks. This further leads to the disintegration of the society.

Casteism has an important role to play in the increasing corruption in vf 1.0 our country. The politicians, bureaucrats, and other important leaders are inclined towards providing benefits to their own people.


Sadly, as a result of the reservation system many professionally competent people are left out and many undeserving candidates are offered jobs and promotions. This has a direct impact on the quality and efficiency of the system. In a way, this also promotes the feeling of hatred among the people from different castes.

As Kaka Kalekar says, "Casteism is an overriding blind and supreme group loyalty that ignores the health, social standard of justice, fair play, equality and universal brotherhood". Our endeavour should be to rise above the narrow minded casteism and work towards the betterment of society and self.

In the independent India, the Constitution of our country banned the discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and religion. But this wasn't sufficient to change the mentality of the people. India still has a long way to go to free itself from the clutches of casteism. The government needs to do away with all the reservations and instead of lending a dole should lend support to the people of the country. The education system must lay down strong foundations of nationalism and secularism in among the youth of the country.

Education can go a long way in enlightening the youth and breaking away with the mental barriers. In the time of globalisation and liberalisation, it is important for the Indians to break away their social and mental barriers. This will play an important role in helping India to achieve its social-economic goals in the long run.

To sum up, casteism can be removed through spread of education, creation of economic and cultural equality, ban on political groups or parties who try to thrive on casteism.

Role of media, and the cinema can be vital towards the creation of new attitudes and new thinking in the people's minds. Public opinion and propaganda should be relentlessly directed against casteism through radio, television, press and educational institutions so that evil of caste system could be completely rooted out.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Stratification formation of classes of categories
  • Feudal society a society where peasant received a piece of land for serving master
  • Menial unskilled, low-grade
  • Segregated set apart from the rest
  • Endowed equipped with a quality or ability
  • Repressive authoritarian
  • Prevalence widespread presence
  • Barriers blockade or hurdles
  • Atrocities cruel act, act of brutality
  • Rampant unlimited
  • Do away with put an end to, remove
  • Domains an area controlled by particular ruler
  • Disintegration process of coming to pieces
  • Bureaucrats civil servants, government servant
  • Competent capable or proficient
  • Endeavour try hard to do or achieve something
  • Dole benefit w tn paid by the state to the unemployed
  • Globalisation process of operating on an international scale
  • Liberalisation relaxation of government restrictions
  • Thrive on to be successful
  • Relentlessly unstoppable
  • Rooted out eradicate, destroy completely
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