Caste System In India
BA.LLB. 1st sem.
Sl. No. Topics Pages
1. Introduction 5
2. Caste system in India 6-7
3. History of Indian caste system 8-15
4. Hindu caste system as a Myth 16-21
5. Caste among religions 22-23
6. Caste rigidity 24-32
7. Caste in various factors of society 33-35
8. Caste and social status 36
9. Views of Ambedkar and Gandhi on caste system 37-40
10. Some news regarding the ongoing caste system 41-44
11. Caste related violence 45-49
12. Rise of backward castes 50-54
13. Criticisms of caste system 55-58
14. Social legitimacy and institutionalization of discrimination 59-64
15. Conclusion 65-66
16. Bibliography 67
In this paper we will discuss about the caste system in India. This paper will give us a review of when and from where did the Indian caste system evolved, its presence in various other religions, its consequences in the society and the steps taken by the society to tackle its problems. And at last I have tried to give my own opinion regarding this system and theprovisions mentioned in the constitution of India.
Caste system in India
Gandhi visiting Madras (now Chennai) in 1933 on an India-wide tour for Harijan causes. His speeches during such tours and writings discussed the discriminated-against castes of India and appealed for the eradication of untouchability.
... sharply with the situation in a more fluid society. iii The present caste system of India is in a state of great flux, as ... with those of a different caste no longer exist, the roots of the caste system still lie deep in society. Traces of the orthodox ... of the British, new religions and reform movements within India attacked the caste system. Buddhism was the first to do so in the ...
In India, the caste system is a system of social stratification and which is now also used as a basis for affirmative action. Historically, it separated communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jātis Contemporary usage of the term Jātis and caste are synonyms. The Jātis were grouped by the Brahminical texts under four categories, known as varnas: viz Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras, and Outcastes. Certain groups, now known as “Dalits”, were excluded from the varna system altogether, ostracized by all other castes and treated as untouchables.
Although strongly identified with Hindus, the caste systems has been carried over to other religions on the Indian subcontinent, including Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs.
Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Indian life, but various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime. Between 1860 and 1920, the British segregated Indians by caste, granting administrative jobs and senior appointments only to higher castes. Social unrest during 1920s, led to a change in this policy. From 1920s, the British colonial administration began a policy of affirmative action by reserving a certain percentage of government jobs for the lower castes. After India achieved independence, this policy of reservation of jobs and positive discrimination based on caste system was formalized with lists of Scheduled Castes (Dalit) and Scheduled Tribes (Adivassi).
History Of Caste System In India
The caste system in India can be described as an elaborately stratified social hierarchy distinguishing India’s social structure from any other nation. Its history is multifaceted and complex.
Caste is a term, which is used to specify a group of people having a specific social rank and dates back to 1200 BCE. The Indian term for caste is jati, and generally designates a group that can vary in size from a handful to many thousands. There are thousands of jatis each with its own rules and customs. The various jatis are traditionally arranged in hierarchical order and fit into one of the four basic varnas the (Sanskrit word for “colors”).
India - International Management Analysis I would like to start by saying that India despite it long history gained independence from Great Britain only in 1947. Ever since the country faces different disputes over territory with Pakistan, China and Bangladesh and enjoys massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, in spite of impressive economic growth in the country ( ...
–The varna of Brahmans, commonly identified with priests and the learned class
–The varna of Kshatriyas, associated with rulers and warriors including property owners.
–The varna of Vaishyas, associated with commercial livelihoods (i.e. traders)
–The varna of Shudras, the servile laborers
The Untouchables occupy a place that is not clearly defined by boundaries and is outside of the varna scheme. Their jobs (such as toilet cleaning and garbage removal) cause them to be considered impure and thus “untouchable.” Historically the untouchables were not allowed in temples and many other public places. In 1950 legislation was passed to prevent any form of discrimination towards the untouchables. Although legislation has affected the status of the e, they are yet very much a visible part of Indian society.
A stereotyped colonial image of Bhil ‘tribals’
The earliest expressions of caste can be found in one of India’s vast bodies of religious scripture known as the Vedas, which are though to have been complied between 1500 and 1000 BCE, although the time of their composition is under debate. They were transmitted orally for many generations before being written down. Therefore, centuries may have passed before they were ever committed to writing.
These works are considered the source of ancient Indian wisdom. The first of the four basic Vedic books is the Rig Veda; a collection of over 1,000 hymns containing the basic mythology of the Aryan gods. The Rig Veda contains one of the most famous sections in ancient Indian literature in which the first man created, Purusa, is sacrificed in order to give rise to the four varnas.
“The Brahmin was his mouth, his two arms were made the Rajanya [Kshatriya, king and warrior], his two thighs [loins] the Vaishya, from
his feet the Sudra [servile class] was born.”
Quoted in Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth century to the Modern Age, Susan Bayly.
Watercolor showing the elaborate devotional worship which became very common in ‘clean caste’
households by the late nineteenth century.
It can be argued that the composers of the Vedas, especially those sections within the Vedas called the Brahmanas, were concerned with the interconnections that organized reality (Smith, 7).
The education system of India is very old. It has started from the ancient times. The Vedas, puranas, ayurveda, yoga represent some forms of education. There are evidences of imparting formal education in ancient India under the Gurukul system. Under the Gurukul system, young boys who were passing through the Brahmacharya stage of life had to stay at the Guru or the teacher’s home and ...
This way of looking at the varnas allows us to see how such a system can survive several millennia. It classifies people not only in terms of their different qualities but also with respect to their different privileges. Each class thus has a special role to play in society as well as a unique function: this structure is a means of creating and organizing an effective society.
The varna system is inter-linked with creation, lending itself a great deal of reverence and validity.
If space, time the congregation of the gods and goddesses, the natural world, scripture and ritual, and the human body itself- if all these realms bear classification according to varna, how could an organization of society be regarded as anything other than the way things should be? (Smith 59)
An important thing to note is that the Vedas do not mention a concept such as Untouchability. It is a part of the system that has been created by society itself.
Caste system in 19th century India
Pages from Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India according to Christian Missionaries in February 1837. They include Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Arabs as castes of India.
There are several theories regarding the origins of the Indian caste system. One posits that the Indian and Aryan classes (“pistras”) show similarity wherein the priests are Brahmins, the warriors are Kshatriya, the merchants are Vaishya, and the artisans are Shudras. Another theory is that of Georges Dumézil, who formulated the trifunctional hypothesis of social class. According to the Dumézil theory, ancient societies had three main classes, each with distinct functions: the first judicial and priestly, the second connected with the military and war, and the third class focused on production, agriculture, craft and commerce. Dumézil proposed that Rex-Flamen of the Roman Empire is etymologically similar to Raj-Brahman of ancient India and that they made offerings to deus and deva respectively, each with statutes of conduct, dress and behavior that were similar.
From the Bhakti school, the view is that the four divisions were originally created by Krishna. “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society were created.”
Indian Caste System The social function of the caste system in Indian culture was too ensure that the wealthy and powerful maintained their high social status and standard of living by making sure that the wealth was unevenly distributed. The members of the upper castes were lucky to inherit a perfect system that was started by the Nomadic Aryans who headed south into what is know as India today. ...
Caste can be considered as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system as it exists today is the result of the British colonial regime, which made caste organisation a central mechanism of administration. According to scholars such as the anthropologist Nicholas Dirks, before colonialism caste affiliation was quite loose and fluid, but the British regime enforced caste affiliation rigorously, and constructed a much more strict hierarchy than existed previously, with some castes being criminalised and others being given preferential treatment. From a sociological point of view Matthew Ward explains that the caste system is inherently embedded in Hindu Religious practices particularly the teachings of samsara, dharma and karma. Samsara views death as a moment of transition and not an end in any person’s life. Dharma encourages the belief that our destiny (caste) is fixed and it cannot be changed. Ward says that the Hindu hyper-good has provided a faithful acceptance of ones worldly fate in order to improve one’s lot in the next life cycle. “Religion provides such rigorous sanctions for social life and impose such a great fear of falling down that people through their patterned daily activity, find it impossible and abhorrent not to follow religious guidelines”(Ward).
Karma is responsible for punishment and reward. This force is influenced by the extent they follow their dharma.
An albumen print of high caste youths wearing the sacred thread (suta).
This photo is labeled ‘vedic students’
and is presumably from from one of the nineteenth century schools.
Although the nation has a long and varied history, the role of the caste system pre-colonialism can be understood by focusing on the major eras in Indian history. Much of India is rural and that which is not, for the most part, is much more urban. with such a drastic difference in the city and the village there is also a difference in the way caste has been interpreted and implemented over the years.
There was a time when we have upper classes,middle class and working class, these classes were created and then in effect created the insecurities and pressure of the people of today. Depending on how much money our families had that determined our livelihoods, our prospects,our social circle and our families future generations. So if you we’re rich and prestigious you had a good chance in ...
The early system most represented something analagous to the mideval guild system. It allowed a specialization of society and each member knew their role. Much laterin India’s history, as India became more and more prevalent in the international scene the concept of the caste sytem began to have different connotaions. It was thought of as backward by much of the west. The greatest changes in the perception as well as in the reality came with the coming and going of the British.
During British rule
The caste system in India during the British rule extended beyond being hereditary phenomenon. Some people could apply to be re-classified into a caste they preferred. For example, the above order issued in 1937 shows a Mali (gardener-agriculturist) being legally awarded the Kshatriya: a warrior caste in ancient India, by British officials. Similarly, many laws such as the Stamp Act required Indians to declare their caste in official documents to be granted lease or licence.
The role of the British on the caste system in India is controversial. Some sources suggest that the caste system became legally rigid during the British Raj, when the British started to enumerate castes during the ten-year census and meticulously codified the system under their rule. Zwart, for example, notes in his review article that the caste system used to be thought of as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but some contemporary scholars argue that the system was constructed by the British colonial regime. Other sources suggest that the caste system existed in India prior to the arrival of the British, and enumerating classes and castes do not constitute the act of constructing it. Bouglé, for example, used 17th to 19th century historical reports by Christian missionaries and some Europeans on Indian society to suggest that a rigid caste system existed in India during and before British ruled India, quite similar in many respects to the social stratification found in 17th to 19th century Europe.
Assumptions about the caste system in Indian society, along with its nature, evolved during British rule. For example, some British believed Indians would shun train travel because tradition-bound South Asians were too caught up in caste and religion, and that they would not sit or stand in the same coaches out of concern for close proximity to a member of higher or lower or shunned caste. After the launch of train services, Indians of all castes, classes and gender enthusiastically adopted train travel without any concern for so-called caste stereotypes.
... on the caste system. The caste system in modern India has been deeply influenced by the mobility that was brought under the British rule; the ... though not forbidden. These three classes to a great extent worked and functioned the way the caste system functioned but the differences ... with the darker aborigines of India. The brahman was a great divinity in human form. His spiritual power was such that ...
Célestin Bouglé, in his essay on the caste system in India, published in 1908, observed the British frequently asserting they had no interest in modifying the caste system in India. The Englishman’s motto, claimed Bouglé, was to administer its Indian colony by preserving its customs, caste system, and with a minimum of security or justice or governance. Bouglé acknowledged in his essay the empirical evidence of intermingling between Indians as observed on Indian Railways and the mass adoption of train. Bouglé used the empirical census facts noted by Risley and the direct observation of mutual acceptance of Indians for Indians on its trains to conclude that the historical caste system within 20th century Indian society was fundamentally changing, and that this change was irreversible. British rule, without wanting to, was triggering fundamental social changes in India. The lower castes were becoming officials, the Brahmins were leaving religious occupations and becoming policemen and farmers, and the three pillars of the caste system according to Bouglé—hereditary occupation, social hierarchy and exclusionary repulsion—were crumbling. Bouglé identified the cause for these changes to be economic progress, industrialisation and career mobility inside India between 1880 and 1905. He believed that British rule, without intending to, had accelerated the natural demise of the caste system in India.
Corbridge concludes that British policies of divide and rule of India’s numerous princely sovereign states, as well as enumeration of the population into rigid categories during the 10 year census, particularly with the 1901 and 1911 census, contributed towards the hardening of caste identities.
In the round table conference held on August 1932, upon the request of B. R. Ambedkar, the then Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay Macdonald made a Communal Award which awarded a provision for separate representation for the Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans and Dalits. These depressed classes were assigned a number of seats to be filled by election from special constituencies in which voters belonging to the depressed classes only could vote. Gandhi went on a hunger strike against this provision claiming that such an arrangement would split the Hindu community into two groups. Fearing a communal reprisal and genocidal acts against untouchables, Ambedkar was coerced into agreeing with Gandhi. This agreement, which saw Gandhi end his fast and Ambedkar drop his demand for a separate electorate, was called the Poona Pact.
Hindu caste system a myth?
1. Definition of the four classes (Chāturvarna)
trigunas: At a spiritual level, the universe or all creation is made up of three unseen subtle basic components. These are known as the three subtle basic components namely Sattva, Raja and Tama. In the word ‘triguna’, ‘tri’ stands for three, while ‘guna’ stands for subtle components.
The social system created to assist everyone in society to behave based on their natural temperament, i.e. their constitution, which is composed of the three subtle components (trigunas) and their spiritual evolution is the system of the four classes (varnas).
In other words, this system of four classes incorporated in Righteousness (Dharma) is meant to provide guidance on behaviour and spiritual practice (sādhanā) according to one’s potential and requirement, to enable one to experience Bliss.
1.1. Motive (principle) and importance of Hindu class system
Smrutis: The word ‘Smruti’ is used with two meanings. In a broad sense, it refers to all the ancient religious texts that profess Sanatan philosophy, excluding the Vēdic literature of the post-Vedic period. These Holy texts include Pāninī’s Vyaakaran, the Shrautsūtras, Gruhyasutras and Dharmasutras, the Mahābhārat, and the Holy texts by Sages like Manu and Yadnyavalkya. More narrowly, the Smrutis refer to ‘religious (Sanatan) scriptures’.
All the Smrutis are in the form of verses (shlokas) and all their topics are arranged systematically.
A. The creation of the classes, described by authors of the Smrutīs is based on division of labour. This was meant to strike a balance between various societal groups without leading to any rifts between them. In that system of classes rather than the rights and privileges of the different classes, emphasis was laid on the performance of duties.
B. In a family, children generally resemble their parents with regard to the complexion, temperament, intelligence, etc., due to genetics. Based on this, authors of the Smrutis, such as the Sage Manu laid down the rules for constituting the societal pattern. Sage Manu came across different people with qualities required for various tasks in a particular social setup and believed the qualities to be inherited. He then allotted the responsibility of various tasks beneficial to society to each group based on those qualities.
C. Shrīkrushna has said (Shrīmadbhagwadgitā 4:13), ‘चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्ट्यं गुणकर्मविभागश:।’. This means, ‘I have created the four classes according to components (guna) and actions (karma)’.
D. Shrī Eknaathi Bhāgwat (20.314, 21.209-210) emphasises this point: ‘Each individual is born in a particular class, depending on his potential to practise Spirituality or according to his need for that particular type of spiritual practice. The God’s motive behind establishing this system of four classes was for man to re-enter the Hansa class (the purest class from the purest times, that is, the period preceding even the pure Era of Truth or Satyayuga) after he had fulfilled the obligations of all the four classes. This means that the restrictions of the four classes imposed by God are in fact meant to overcome or transcend the four classes.’
2. Actual spiritual practice according to Hindu class system
We are born on earth with the sole purpose of undergoing the destiny created by our deeds from previous births and to realise God. Regardless of the destiny we are born with, the class system helps us in accomplishing the goal of God realisation.
A. Spiritual practice means offering whatever one has, unto God. A Shūdra (labourer) should offer his body, as he does not have anything else to offer by the way of service. A Vaishya (businessman) should offer his body and wealth, a Kshatriya (warrior) his body, wealth and life and a Brāhman (priest) his body, wealth, life as well as intellect for the Absolute Truth (God alone is the Absolute Truth).
B. In the present times of Kaliyuga, every person, to whichever class he may belong, becomes a Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra for some time of the day, everyday, as given in the table below.
Duration of class during the day (%)
Brahman Kshatriya Vaishya Shudra Total
Brahman 40 30 20 10 100
Kshatriya 30 40 20 10 100
Vaishya 20 20 40 20 100
Shudra 20 20 20 40 100
For some time of the day, every individual is a Brahman when he studies, a Kshatriya when he fights according to the situation, a Vaishya when he earns a livelihood and a Shudra when he does some physical work like cleaning his body during a bath. Hence, every one needs to undertake the spiritual practice of all the four classes for some time each day.
C. The origin of the system of the four classes dates back thousands of years. From then till the present period, nearly 70% of the population has been born of interclass marriages. For this reason too, every one needs to undertake the spiritual practice of all the four classes for at least some time.
D. An individual is born in the class which is conducive to his spiritual progress. Hence, if a Shudra is rich as a result of his merits from previous births, his thinking that, ‘I will practice Spirituality by offering my wealth like a Vaishya,’ is wrong. He must certainly offer his wealth, but according to his class he should also render physical service unto God. As a result of performing the service of both classes, instead of being born in his next birth as a Vaishya, he may directly be born in a Kshatriya or Brahman class.
E. If one undertakes the spiritual practice of one’s class appropriately and completely, then in the next birth, one is born in a higher class. E.g. if in this birth the spiritual practice of a Shudra is completed, then in the next birth he may be born as a Vaishya. Later, being born progressively as a Kshatriya and a Brahman, he may ultimately attain the Final Liberation (Moksha).
It is not possible to undertake spiritual practice for the sake of society (samashti sadhana) without doing individual spiritual practice (vyashti sadhana); hence, to make rapid spiritual progress a seeker should do both. Mainly Brahmans and Kshatriyas can undertake spiritual practice for the sake of society. In case of a Brahman it involves teaching Spirituality to others while for a Kshatriya it is sacrificing even one’s life for the protection of society, should the need arise.
2.1 Animals and the four classes
The system of four classes is observed not only in man, but also among flora and fauna. Among animals, the cow and the serpent, who are sāttvik (spiritual purity predominant), belong to the Brahman class while the tiger and lion, who are rājasik (action-passion predominant) in nature, belong to the Kshatriya class. This means that ‘class’ is a state, which is determined by the three components.
3. The determination of class
3.1 Difficulties in the determination of class
One has to be beyond the three components (gunatit) to recognise the qualities and actions of another. Only Saints can do this, but They do not answer such queries and only recommend the appropriate spiritual practice.
3.2 Creation according to the doctrine of evolution
A. The Shudra: According to the doctrine of evolution, the protection of one’s body is the basic impression in any living being. All are Shudra at birth, because they are born with the impression that ‘I am the body (जन्मात् जायते शूद्र:।).’ It is said that ‘Shudras have no right to study the Vēdas,’ because Shudras (those who are concerned about their bodies) cannot think beyond their bodies and to understand the Vedas, one has to be able to focus on its subtle or spiritual aspects by going beyond the body.
B. The Vaishya: With further evolution, one begins to be concerned with nurturing his family and thus commences some occupation for livelihood, such as agriculture, business, etc.
C. The Kshatriya: With yet further evolution, one begins to develop an affinity for a territory. This leads to the creation of the Kshatriya class. Now the affinity is for the country and not for one’s body, hence patriots sacrifice even their lives for their country.
D. The Brahman: In the final stage of evolution, one becomes curious about God and spiritual knowledge. This leads to the origin of the Brahman class.
3.3 Qualities are more important than the birth
यस्य यल्लक्षणं प्रोक्तं पुंसो वर्णाभिव्यंजकम् ।
यदन्यत्रापि दृश्येत तत्तेनैव विनिर्दिशेत् ।। – श्रीमद्भागवत ७.२१.३५
Meaning: An individual should be classified in a particular class irrespective of his birth if he possesses the decisive characteristic of that class. One’s class should be decided considering the holistic picture of the qualities of the class of the person and those of the other classes. – Shrimadbhagwadgita 7.21.35
The Hindu Holy epic, the Mahabharat says that an individual’s class should be determined by birth, but in accordance with his qualities and only if he possesses those qualities should he be considered to belong to that particular class.
Caste Among religions
Although strongly identified with Hinduism, the caste systems has been carried over to other religions on the Indian subcontinent, including small groups of Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs.
In some parts of India, Christians are stratified by sect, location, and the castes of their predecessors. In many ways this presence of social strata system has been witnessed elsewhere, such as the society structured by Christian Spaniards who, according to Cahill, established a caste system in their colonial possessions: the West Indies, East Indies, New Spain and the Viceroyalty of Peru, within the last 500 years.
The earliest reference to caste among Indian Christians comes from Kerala. Duncan Forrester observes that “… Nowhere else in India is there a large and ancient Christian community which has in time immemorial been accorded a high status in the caste hierarchy. … Syrian Christian community operates very much as a caste and is properly regarded as a caste or at least a very caste-like group.” Amidst the Hindu society, the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala had inserted themselves within the Indian caste society by the observance of caste-rules and were regarded by the Hindus as a caste occupying a high place within their caste hierarchy. Their traditional belief that their ancestors were high-caste Hindus such as Namboodiris and Nairs, who were evangelised by St. Thomas, has also supported their upper-caste status. With the arrival European missionaries and their evangelistic mission among the so-called lower castes in Kerala, two new groups of Christians, called Latin Rite Christians and New Protestant Christians, were formed but they continued to be considered as lower castes by higher ranked communities, including the Saint Thomas Christians.
Contrary to the Quranic worldview, Muslims in India have a caste system. Ashrafs are presumed to have a superior status, while the Ajlafs have a lower status. The Arzal caste among Muslims was regarded as the equivalent of untouchables, by anti-caste activists like Ambedkar, and by the colonial British ethnographer Herbert Risley who claimed more than 60 percent of Muslims in British India were of a caste equivalent in status as the Hindu Shudras and Untouchables, While other sources state an estimate between 75 and 80 percent] In the Bengal region of India, some Muslims stratify their society according to ‘Quoms.’ Some scholars have asserted that the Muslim “castes” are not as acute in their discrimination as those of the Hindus, while other scholars argue that the social evils in South Asian Muslim society were worse than those seen in Hindu society.
Although the Sikh Gurus criticised the hierarchy of the caste system, one does exist in Sikh community. In the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, 20 of the 140 seats are reserved for low-caste Sikhs.
When Ywan Chwang traveled to South India after the period of the Chalukyan Empire, he noticed that the caste system had existed among the Buddhists and Jains]
In parts of India, such as Ladakh, with significant historical presence of Buddhists, a caste system existed in a manner similar to caste structure in Tibet. The upper castes belongs to sger gzhis, and they are called sgar pa. The priestly caste belonged to monastery, and are called chos-gzhis. Miser are the serf caste. Serfs, the majority of the people, farmed and paid taxes. An individual’s social status and lifelong occupation was destined by birth, closed, and depending on the family one was born into, the individual inherited a tenure document known as khral-rten. Buddhist castes had sub-castes, such as nang gzan, khral pa and dud chung. Buddhist also had castes that were shunned by their community and ostracised, such as hereditary fishermen, butchers and undertakers. The untouchables in Buddhist regions, as in Tibet, are known as Ragyappa, who lived in isolated ghettos, and their occupation was to remove corpses (human or animal) and dispose of sewage]
Jains also had castes in places such as Bihar. For example, in the village of Bundela, there were several exclusionary jaats amongst the Jains. Martin claims these castes avoided eating with each other. Walter Hamilton in his trip to the Tulava region of South India noticed that the Jains there do not accept Shudras into their sect.
In Ancient India
Ancient Hindu texts suggest caste system was not rigid. This flexibility permitted lower caste Valmiki to compose the Ramayana, which was widely adopted and became a major Hindu scripture. Other ancient texts cite numerous examples of individuals moving from one caste to another within their lifetimes.
Fa Xian, a Buddhist pilgrim from China, visited India around 400 AD. “Only the lot of the Chandals he found unenviable; outcastes by reason of their degrading work as disposers of dead, they were universally shunned … But no other section of the population were notably disadvantaged, no other caste distinctions attracted comment from the Chinese pilgrim, and no oppressive caste ‘system’ drew forth his surprised censure. Peace and order prevailed.” In this period kings of Shudra and Brahmin origin were as common as those of Kshatriya Varna and caste system was not wholly rigid.
During British Rule
Smelser and Lipset in their review of Hutton’s study of caste system in colonial India propose the theory that individual mobility across caste lines may have been minimal in British India because it was ritualistic. They theorise that the sub-castes may have changed their social status over the generations by fission, re-location, and adoption of new external ritual symbols. Some of these evolutionary changes in social stratifications, claim Smelser and Lipset, were seen in Europe, Japan, Africa and other regions as well; however, the difference between them may be the relative levels of ritualistic and secular referents. Smelser and Lipset further propose that the colonial system may have affected the caste system social stratification. They note that British colonial power controlled economic enterprises and the political administration of India by selectively cooperating with upper caste princes, priests and landlords. This was colonial India’s highest level caste strata, followed by second strata that included favoured officials who controlled trade, supplies to the colonial power and Indian administrative services. The bottom layer of colonial Indian society was tenant farmers, servants, wage labourers, indentured coolies and others. The colonial social strata acted in combination with the traditional caste system. The colonial strata shut off economic opportunity, entrepreneurial activity by natives, or availability of schools, thereby worsening the limitations placed on mobility by the traditional caste system. In America and Europe, they argue individual mobility was better than in India or other colonies around the world, because colonial stratification was missing and the system could evolve to become more secular and tolerant of individual mobility.
In the present day India social organization based on caste is considered to be heredity and is not changeable. Inter caste marriage is legal in India. Movements started by Gandhi and Ambedkar to decrease the inequality among people practicing caste have had a considerable effect on people’s view.]
Sociologists such as Srinivas and Damle have debated the question of rigidity in caste. In their independent studies, they claim considerable flexibility and mobility in their caste hierarchies among the Coorgs of South India.
The massive 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests
The Indian government officially recognises historically discriminated communities of India such as the Untouchables under the designation of Scheduled Castes, and certain economically backward Shudra castes as Other Backward Castes. The Scheduled Castes are sometimes referred to as Dalit in contemporary literature. In 2001, the proportion of Dalit population was 16.2 percent of India’s total population.
Since 1950, India has enacted and implemented many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socio-economic conditions of its Dalit population. Of the highest paying, senior most jobs in government agencies and government controlled enterprises, over 10 percent were held by members of the Dalit community, a tenfold increase in 40 years but yet to fill up the 15 percent reserved quota for them. In 1997, India elected K.R. Narayanan, a Dalit, as the nation’s President. Indians who were born in historically discriminated minority castes have been elected to its highest judicial and political offices. While the quality of life of Dalit population in India, in terms of metrics such as poverty, literacy rate, access to health care, life expectancy, education attainability, access to drinking water, housing, etc. have seen faster growth amongst the Dalit population between 1986 and 2006, for some metrics, it remains lower than overall non-Dalit population, and for some it is better than poor non-Dalit population.
A 2004 report, compiled by a society of Dalits and people against caste-based discrimination, summarised the developments over previous 60 years, and status of the caste system in modern India, as follows: Article 15 of Indian Constitution, as enacted in 1950, prohibits any discrimination based on caste. Article 17 of Indian Constitution declared any practice of untouchability as illegal.In 1955, India enacted the Untouchability (Offences) Act (renamed in 1976, as the Protection of Civil Rights Act).
It extended the reach of law, from intent to mandatory enforcement. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, similar to the Hate Crime Laws in the United States, was passed in India in 1989.
India created National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to investigate, monitor, advise, and evaluate the socio-economic progress of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
India implemented a reservation system for its citizens from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; this program has been in use in India for over 50 years. This program is similar to Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunities statutes in the United States.
In India, where the presence of private free market corporations is limited, government jobs have dominated the percentage of jobs in its economy. A 2000 report estimated that most jobs in India were in companies owned by the government or agencies of the government. The reservation system implemented by India over 50 years, has been partly successful, because of all jobs, nationwide, in 1995, 17.2 percent of the jobs were held by those in the lowest castes. In 1995, about 16.1 percent of India’s population were the lowest castes.
The Indian government classifies government jobs in four groups. The Group A jobs are senior most, high paying positions in the government, while Group D are junior most, lowest paying positions. In Group D jobs, the percentage of positions held by lowest caste classified people is 30% greater than their demographic percentage. In all jobs classified as Group C positions, the percentage of jobs held by lowest caste people is about the same as their demographic population distribution. In Group A and B jobs, the percentage of positions held by lowest caste classified people is 30% lower than their demographic percentage.
The presence of lowest caste people in highest paying, senior most position jobs in India has increased by ten-fold, from 1.18 percent of all jobs in 1959 to 10.12 percent of all jobs in 1995.
In 2007, India elected K. G. Balakrishnan, a Dalit, to the office of Chief Justice.
In 2007, Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India, elected Mayawati as the Chief Minister, the highest elected office of the state. BBC claims, “Mayawati Kumari is an icon for millions of India’s Dalits, or untouchables as they used to be known.”
In 2009, the Indian parliament unanimously elected a Dalit,] Meira Kumar, as the first female speaker.
In addition to taking affirmative action for people of schedule castes and scheduled tribes, India has expanded its effort to include people from poor, backward castes in its economic and social mainstream. In 1990, the Government of India introduced reservation of 27% for Backward Classes on the basis of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations. This became the law with the issuance of Gazette notice 36012/31/90-Estt. (SCT) dated 13 August 1990. Since then, India has reserved 27 percent of job opportunities in government-owned enterprises and agencies for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs).
The 27 percent reservation is in addition to 22.5 percent set aside for India’s lowest castes for last 50 years.
In a 2008 study, Desai et al. focussed on education attainments of children and young adults aged 6–29, from lowest caste and tribal populations of India. They completed a national survey of over 100,000 households for each of the four survey years between 1983 and 2000. They found a significant increase in lower caste children in their odds of completing primary school. The number of dalit children who completed either middle-, high- or college-level education increased three times faster than the national average, and the total number were statistically same for both lower and upper castes. The number of dalit girls in India who attended school doubled in the same period, but still few percent less than national average. Other poor caste groups as well as ethnic groups such as Muslims in India have also made improvements over the 16 year period, but their improvement lagged behind that of dalits and adivasis. The net percentage school attainment for Dalits and Muslims were statistically the same in 1999.
A 2007 nationwide survey of India by the World Bank found that over 80 percent of children of historically discriminated castes were attending schools. The fastest increase in school attendance by Dalit community children occurred during the recent periods of India’s economic growth. The quality and quantity of schools are now major issues in India.A study by Darshan Singh presents data on health and other indicators of socio-economic change in India’s historically discriminated castes. He claims:
In 2001, the literacy rates in India’s lowest castes was 55 percent, compared to a national average of 63 percent.
The childhood vaccination levels in India’s lowest castes was 40 percent in 2001, compared to a national average of 44 percent.
Access to drinking water within household or near the household in India’s lowest castes was 80 percent in 2001, compared to a national average of 83 percent.
The poverty level in India’s lowest castes dropped from 49 percent to 39 percent between 1995 and 2005, compared to a national average change from 35 to 27 percent.
The table below presents this data for various caste groups in modern India. Both 1998 and 2005 data is included to ascertain the general trend. The Mohanty and Ram report suggests that poverty, not caste, is the bigger differentiator in life expectancy in modern India.
Life expectancy statistics for Indian caste groups
Life expectancy at birth (in years)
Castes group 1998–1999 2005–2006
Lowest castes 61.5 64.6
Other backward castes 63.5 65.7
Poor, tribal populations 57.5 56.9
Poor, upper castes 61.9 62.7
National average 63.8 65.5
Leonard and Weller have surveyed marriage and genealogical records to empirically study patterns of exogamous inter-caste and endogamous intra-caste marriages in a regional population of India, between 1900 to 1975. They report a striking presence of exogamous marriages across caste lines over time, particularly since the 1970s. They propose education, economic development, mobility and more interaction between youth as possible reasons for these exogamous marriages.
A 2003 article in The Telegraph claimed that inter-caste marriage and dating are common in urban India. Indian societal and family relationships are changing because of female literacy and education, women at work, urbanisation, need for two-income families, and global influences through the television. Female role models in politics, academia, journalism, business, and India’s feminist movement have accelerated the change.
Scheduled castes (SC)
Scheduled castes generally consist of Dalit. By 2007, the population was 16% of the total population of India (around 165 million).
Scheduled tribes (ST)
Scheduled tribes generally consist of tribal groups. The present population is 7% of the total population of India i.e. around 70 millions.
Other Backward Classes (OBC)
The Mandal Commission covered more than 3000 castes under Other Backward Class (OBC) category, regardless of their affluence or economic status and stated that OBCs form around 52% of the Indian population. However, the National Sample Survey puts the figure at 32%. There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBCs in India; it is generally estimated to be sizable, but many believe that it is lower than the figures quoted by either the Mandal Commission or the National Sample Survey.
The caste-based reservations in India have led to widespread protests, such as the 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests, with many complaining of reverse discrimination against the forward castes (the castes that do not qualify for the reservation).
In May 2011, the government approved a caste census with the intention of verifying the claims and counterclaims by various sections of the society about their actual numbers. The census would also help the government to re-examine and possibly undo some of the policies which were formed in haste such as the Mandal commission in order to bring more objectivity to the policies with respect to contemporary realities. Critics of the reservation system believe that there is actually no social stigma at all associated with belonging to a backward caste and that because of the huge constitutional incentives in the form of educational and job reservations, a large number of people will falsely identify with a backward caste to receive the benefits. This would not only result in a marked inflation of the backward castes’ numbers, but also lead to enormous administrative and judicial resources being devoted to social unrest and litigation when such dubious caste declarations are challenged.
Caste In Various Factors Of The Society
B. R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru had radically different approaches to caste, especially concerning constitutional politics and the status of untouchables. Since the 1980s, caste has become a major issue in the politics of India.
The Mandal Commission was established in 1979 to “identify the socially or educationally backward” and to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. In 1980, the commission’s report affirmed the affirmative action practice under Indian law, whereby additional members of lower castes—the other backward classes—were given exclusive access to another 27 percent of government jobs and slots in public universities, in addition to the 23 percent already reserved for the Dalits and Tribals. When V. P. Singh’s administration tried to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission in 1989, massive protests were held in the country. Many alleged that the politicians were trying to cash in on caste-based reservations for purely pragmatic electoral purposes.
Many political parties in India have indulged in caste-based votebank politics. Parties such as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal claim that they are representing the backward castes, and rely on OBC support, often in alliance with Dalit and Muslim support, to win elections. Remarkably, in what is called a landmark election in the history of India’s most populated state of Uttar Pradesh,[by whom?] the Bahujan Samaj Party was able to garner a majority in the state assembly elections with the support of the high caste Brahmin community.
Caste and economics
A 1995 study suggests that the caste system in India must be viewed as a system of exploitation of poor low-ranking groups by more prosperous high-ranking groups. Such qualitative theories have been questioned though by other studies. Haque reports that over 90 percent of both scheduled castes (low-ranking groups) and all other castes (high-ranking groups) either do not own land or own very small land area only capable of producing less than $1000 per year of food and income per household. Over 99 percent of India’s farms are less than 10 hectares, and 99.9 percent of the farms are less than 20 hectares, regardless of the farmer or landowner’s caste. Indian government has, in addition, vigorously pursued agricultural land ceiling laws which prohibit anyone from owning land greater than mandated limits. India has used this law to forcibly acquire land from some, then redistribute tens of millions of acres to the landless and poor of the low-caste. However, but for some short term exceptions in some states, these laws have not met the expectations. In a 2011 study, Aiyar too notes that such qualitative theories of economic exploitation and consequent land redistribution within India between 1950 and 1990 had no effect on the quality of life and poverty reduction. Instead, economic reforms since the 1990s and resultant opportunities for non-agricultural jobs have reduced poverty and increased per capita income for all segments of Indian society. For specific evidence, Aiyar mentions the following
Critics believe that the economic liberalisation has benefited just a small elite and left behind the poor, especially the lowest Hindu caste of dalits. But a recent authoritative survey revealed striking improvements in living standards of dalits in the last two decades. Television ownership was up from zero to 45 percent; cellphone ownership up from zero to 36 percent; two-wheeler ownership (of motorcycles, scooters, mopeds) up from zero to 12.3 percent; children eating yesterday’s leftovers down from 95.9 percent to 16.2 percent … Dalits running their own businesses up from 6 percent to 37 percent; and proportion working as agricultural labourers down from 46.1 percent to 20.5 percent.
Cassan has studied the differential effect within two segments of India’s Dalit community. He finds India’s overall economic growth has produced the fastest and more significant socio-economic changes. Cassan further concludes that legal and social program initiatives are no longer India’s primary constraint in further advancement of India’s historically discriminated castes; further advancement are likely to come from improvements in the supply of quality schools in rural and urban India, along with India’s economic growth.
In popular culture
Mulk Raj Anand’s debut novel, Untouchable (1935) based on the theme of untouchability. Hindi film, Achhoot Kanya (Untouchable Maiden, 1936) starring Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani was an early reformist film. The debut novel of Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997) also has themes surrounding the caste system. A lawyer named Sabu Thomas filed a petition to have the book published without the last chapter, which had graphic description of sexual acts between members of different castes. Sabu Thomas, a member of Syrian Christian community of Kerala, claimed the obscenity in the last chapter deeply hurts the Syrian Christian community, the basis of the novel.
The 2011 Hindi cinema (Bollywood) movie Aarakshan deals with caste-based educational reservation.
Caste and social status
Doctrinally, caste was defined as a system of segregation of people, each with a traditional hereditary occupation. The Jātis were grouped by the Brahminical texts under the four well-known caste categories (the varnas): viz Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Certain people were excluded altogether, ostracized by all other castes and etreated as untouchables.
This ideological scheme was theoretically composed of 3,000 sub-castes, which in turn was claimed to be composed of 90,000 local endogamous sub-groups.This theory of caste was applied to what was then British India in the early 20th century, when the population comprised about 200 million people, across five major religions, and over 500,000 agrarian villages, each with a population between 100 to 1000 people of various age groups, variously divided into numerous rigid castes (British India included what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma).
Views Of Ambedkar And Gandhi On Caste System
Views of Ambedkar
Ambedkar, was born in a caste that was classified as untouchable, became a leader of human rights in India, a prolific writer, and a key person in drafting modern India’s constitution in the 1940s. Ambedkar wrote extensively on discrimination, trauma and tragic effects of the caste system in India.
From the 1850s, photography was used in Indian subcontinent by the British for anthropological purposes, helping classify the different castes, tribes and native trades. Included in this collection were Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist (Sinhalese) people classified by castes Above is an 1860s photograph of Rajpoots, classified as the highest secular Hindu caste. Amongst the Rajpoot clans, Chohans, descendents of warrior princes, were classified to have the highest position.
Ambedkar described the Untouchables as belonging to the same religion and culture, yet shunned and ostracised by the community they lived in. The Untouchables, observed Ambedkar, recognised the sacred as well as the secular laws of India, but they derived no benefit from this. They lived on the outskirts of a village. Segregated from the rest, bound down to a code of behaviour, they lived a life appropriate to a servile state. According to this code, an Untouchable could not do anything that raised him or her above his or her appointed station in life. The caste system stamped an individual as untouchable from birth. Thereafter, observed Ambedkar, his social status was fixed, and his economic condition was permanently set. The tragic part was that the Mahomedans, Parsis and Christians shunned and avoided the Untouchables, as well as the Hindus. Ambedkar acknowledged that the caste system wasn’t universally absolute in his time; it was true, he wrote, that some Untouchables had risen in Indian society above their usually low status, but the majority had limited mobility, or none, during Britain’s colonial rule. According to Ambedkar, the caste system was irrational. Ambedkar listed these evils of the caste system: it isolated people, infused a sense of inferiority into lower-caste individuals, and divided humanity. The caste system was not merely a social problem, he argued: it traumatised India’s people, its economy, and the discourse between its people, preventing India from developing and sharing knowledge, and wrecking its ability to create and enjoy the fruits of freedom. The philosophy supporting the social stratification system in India had discouraged critical thinking and cooperative effort, encouraging instead treatises that were full of absurd conceits, quaint fancies, and chaotic speculations. The lack of social mobility, notes Ambedkar, had prevented India from developing technology which can aid man in his effort to make a bare living, and a life better than that of the brute. Ambedkar stated that the resultant absence of scientific and technical progress, combined with all the transcendentalism and submission to one’s fate, perpetrated famines, desolated the land, and degraded the consciousness from respecting the civic rights of every fellow human being.
According to Ambedkar, castes divided people, only to disintegrate and cause myriad divisions which isolated people and caused confusion. Even the upper caste, the Brahmin, divided itself and disintegrated. The curse of caste, according to Ambedkar, split the Brahmin priest class into well over 1400 sub-castes. This is supported by census data collected by colonial ethnographers in British India (now South Asia).
Views of Gandhi
Gandhi, disagreed with some of Ambedkar’s observations, rationale and interpretations about the caste system in India. Caste, he claimed, has saved Hinduism from disintegration. But like every other institution it has suffered from excrescences. He considered the four divisions of Varnas to be fundamental, natural and essential. The innumerable subcastes or Jātis he considered to be a hindrance. He advocated to fuse all the Jātis into a more global division of Varnas. He also advocated for the idea of heredity in caste to be rejected.
He claimed that Varnashrama of the shastras is today nonexistent in practice. The present caste system is theory antithesis of varnashrama. Caste in its current form, claimed Gandhi, had nothing to do with religion. The discrimination and trauma of castes, argued Gandhi, was the result of custom, the origin of which is unknown. Gandhi said that the customs’ origin was a moot point, because one could spiritually sense that these customs were wrong, and that any caste system is harmful to the spiritual well-being of man and economic well-being of a nation. The reality of colonial India was, Gandhi noted, that there was no significant disparity between the economic condition and earnings of members of different castes, whether it was a Brahmin or an artisan or a farmer of low caste. India was poor, and Indians of all castes were poor. Thus, he argued that the cause of trauma was not in the caste system, but elsewhere. Judged by the standards being applied to India, Gandhi claimed, every human society would fail. He acknowledged that the caste system in India spiritually blinded some Indians, then added that this did not mean that every Indian or even most Indians blindly followed the caste system, or everything from ancient Indian scriptures of doubtful authenticity and value. India, like any other society, cannot be judged by a caricature of its worst specimens. Gandhi stated that one must consider the best it produced as well, along with the vast majority in impoverished Indian villages struggling to make ends meet, with woes of which there was little knowledge.
Gandhi also advocated that no one should have a superior status merely by virtue of the caste he was born into. Gandhi said he believes that caste system, even as distinguished from varnashrama, to be an “odious and viciousdogma.” It has its limitations and defects, but there is nothing sinful about it, as there is about Untouchability;
A 1922 stereograph of Hindu children of high caste, Bombay. This was part of Underwood & Underwood stereoscope journey of colonial world. This and related collections became controversial for staging extreme effects and constructing identities of various colonised nations. Christopher Pinney remarks such imaging was a part of surveillance and imposed identities upon Indians that were resented.
Some News Regarding The Ongoing Caste System In India
Channel News Asia
The echoing silence of caste
Caste in India is like air, it is what you breathe but yet you cannot “see” it — an oppressive system that is not even recognised as generating …
Low-caste Indians look to Modi and BJP in elections
MUMBAI — For years, India’s Dalits have found an ally in the … the country’s now-outlawed but still deeply entrenched caste system — a rigid …
Caste system and Indian politics
This is in response to the article “Modi set to get taste of his own medicine” (March 29) by Nilofar Suhrawardy. The writer has analyzed the …
Lohia Line on Destruction of the Caste System
Lohia began conceptu-alising his understanding of the caste system (jati … of India in the 1950s with the quest for ending the caste system.
Gender and Caste Discrimination in India
The divisive caste system – in operation throughout India, “Old” and “New” – together with inequitable gender attitudes, sits at the heart of the …
Divergent: An accidental parable about a casteist dystopia
Though it is unlikely that either Burger or Roth had an Indian … First, they argue that the caste system was not hereditary to begin with, and it …
DIVERGENT Movie Review
Las Vegas Informer-20-Mar-2014
According to a National Geographic (NG) article titled, Untouchable (June 2003), “To be born a Hindu in India is to enter the caste system, one …
Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India interview: new religions, tiger …
PC Gamer Magazine-24-Mar-2014
We talked about historical accuracy, India’s religions and castes, and more. If you promise not to plot my … They will also have the caste system.
Ambedkar Jayanti observed
Times of India-
… of India. Speaking on the occasion, Shashi Bala Sankhwar, vice president of the organization said, “Dr Ambedkar opposed the caste system.
India recognizes transgender citizens as ‘third gender’
India’s Supreme Court has recognized a long-discriminated-against … to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, … This kind of three-gender-choice system was introduced in
Independent India has witnessed caste-related violence. According to a UN report, approximately 110,000 cases of violent acts committed against Dalits were reported in 2005.The report claimed 6.7 cases of violent acts per 10000 Dalit people. For context, the UN reported between 40 and 55 cases of violent acts per 10000 people in developed countries in 2005. and the total number of cases pending in various courts of India, on Dalit related and non-Dalit related matters were 31.28 million as of 2010. One example of such violence is the Kherlanji Massacre of 2006.
The Principle Of Non-discrimination
The internationally accepted principles of equality and non-discrimination have no place in a caste-based society. For this reason, India’s domestic and international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) are yet to be fully met. In fact, India has consistently maintained that caste discrimination was a domestic issue that had nothing to do with international human rights principles.
India ratified the CERD in 1969, article 1 of which defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.
The practice of caste based discrimination is one based on descent; and falls clearly under the CERD’s definition of racial discrimination. India’s continued exclusionary stand regarding its millions of lower caste citizens is a violation of their rights and its own responsibility to them.
Even after prime minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged the abysmal status of the country’s Dalits in December 2006–the first leader to do so–the country continues to lag behind in improving the lot of Dalits.
The most acute manifestations of caste discrimination are the systematic denial of the rights to food, health, education, freedom from bonded labor and ultimately, the denial of the right to justice. This denial includes the refusal to provide redress, which is an international obligation under the common article 2 of both the ICCPR and ICESCR.
The situation of Golahanpur village in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh is indicative of many of these rights violations. The approximately 40 Dalit houses in this village are situated outside the village boundary, as dictated by upper caste villagers. This makes them unable to enjoy public facilities such as roads, electricity and health care. The government school in the village does not allow Dalit children to sit with the upper caste children. Furthermore, most of the Dalit families do not exist in government records, as census officers refuse to record their information. This deprives them of access to food and welfare programmes.
When a 45-year-old Dalit woman named Jhaman went to the village office in August 2006 to get her children’s names registered in the village records and to request that Dalit children be allowed to sit alongside other children in the school, she was chased away by the village head. According to Jhaman, there is not a single latrine for the entire Dalit community in Golahanpur, which amounts to some 240 persons. In fact, she claims that all the government facilities available for Dalits are used up by the upper caste. And this is a village that was declared a ‘model village’ by the president of India in 2005 [see ALRC, ‘A Supplementary Document Concerning Caste Discrimination in India’, 2007, p6, submitted to the 70th session of the CERD committee for detailed information].
With regards to the right to food and bonded labor,
1. 45-year-old Mr. Teras Ram died from acute starvation on December 24, 2007. Ram is from the Chamar community in Baisa village, Jaunpur district, Uttar Pradesh State. The Chamar are a lower caste community considered to be untouchable by the caste Hindus. While India is rich in food supplies and self-sufficient in its food requirements (1), acute starvation and malnourishment remain ongoing concerns…
3. As in the case of Ram, most deaths from starvation are reported from the lower caste (Dalit) communities in the country. Discrimination within society owing to caste-based prejudices and poverty, means that the benefits of government welfare programmes does not reach this community. In order to guarantee food security, which is a fundamental right in India (3), the government has constituted a public distribution network under the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution. However, this public distribution system (PDS), is plagued by rampant corruption, causing it to malfunction (4)…
4. Corruption in the PDS system promotes starvation. Coupled with the discriminatory practices in the government health service sector, the poor often die from malnutrition and malnutrition-induced sicknesses. 18-month-old Alina Shahin, a resident of Lohta Panchayath, Kashi Vidhya Peed Block in Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh State, died on September 13, 2007. Prior to her death, Alina was taken to the government public health facility in Lohta. The staff at the facility not only refused treatment but assaulted Alina’s elder sister, Khusnuma, who accompanied Alina to the facility.
5. Alina was suffering from Grade IV malnutrition. The ALRC was alerted to Alina’s situation prior to her death through it local partner, the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR).
The ALRC on September 3, 2007, contacted the district administration through its sister-organisation, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
The AHRC urged the head of the district administration, the District Magistrate (DM), Ms. Veena Kumari, to ensure that Alina receive immediate medical attention. The DM refused to take action and through a press release denied the case…
8. The continuation of feudal practices in India is one more reason for starvation and food insecurity in India. The landlords, often from the upper caste, force members of the lower caste to work for them. Bonded labour is a common practice in the country (8).
Most States in India are yet to legislate and implement land reforms laws. Left with no cultivable land or work, the villagers are often forced to work for the local landlords for practically nothing. The wages are often provided in the form of a daily meal. Entire families are forced to work in conditions equivalent to slavery (9).
9. The correlation between bonded labour, the absence of land reform policies and starvation is proven by the simple fact that in States where land reforms have been implemented, cases of starvation and malnutrition are far less frequently reported (10).
In the past three years, not a single case of starvation deaths has been reported from the State of Kerala (11).
The nation-wide implementation of land reforms is yet to materialise owing to strong political opposition. Many legislators in India are feudal lords (12) [Asian Legal Resource Centre, ‘India: Starvation deaths ongoing due to administrative neglect’, written statement made to the seventh session of the UN Human Rights Council, 21 February 2008, ALRC-CWS-07-002-2008].
1. The High Level Committee constituted by the Ministry of Food and Public Distribution in India in its reports claims that the country is self-sufficient in food grain production and that the country could even face a severe drought season without engendering a shortage of food for the needy.
3. While the Indian Constitution does not explicitly mention the right to food as a fundamental right, it is implicitly enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution under the fundamental right to life. The Supreme Court of India has also reiterated that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to food.
4. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food E/CN.4/2006/44/Add.2, dated 20 March 2006.
8. ‘Bonded labour still exists in many states’ April 22, 2007 – Mr. P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister – Government of India, The Hindu, http://www.hindu.com/2007/04/23/stories/2007042304190500.htm.
9. Government of India: Ministry of Labour & Employment, Annual Report 2006-2007; The practice of bonded labour is prohibited under Article 23 of the Indian Constitution and also by specific enactment ~ The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
10. Organising for the Socio Economic Security for India: Sukti Das Gupta, ILO Geneva, October 2002.
11. The Sstate of Kerala implemented the Kerala Land Reforms Act in 1963, bringing a statutory limit to land holding.
12. For example, of the 543 legislators in the lower house of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha), 120 are from the States of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Yet, these are the two States in India that record the lowest per capita income. The State is home to many senior politicians in India, yet it is one of the most backward States in terms of productivity and agricultural income.
(For further information and analysis, see also Lesson Series 39: The right to food: Indivisibility of rights, which looks specifically at the relationship between caste discrimination and the right to food.)
The Rise Of The Backward Castes
Dalit Political Movements
In addition to a growing number of lower-caste-based political parties and human rights movements, Dalits have taken part in struggles against the state and their upper-caste counterparts since the 1960s to claim their rights; several of these movements have used arms and have advocated violence. While some Dalit leaders have argued that the fundamental rights of Dalits should be addressed within a constitutional framework, many non-urbanized Dalits have taken the position that their problems cannot be resolved without a militant struggle against those in power.
Mainstream political parties in India have generally adopted a top-down interventionist approach to Dalit problems, offering promises of loans, housing,and proper implementation of reservations (quotas allowing for increased representation in government jobs, education, and political bodies) as compensation for past mistreatment. Issues of “untouchability,” temple entry,45 violence, and economic exploitation were largely left unaddressed by the state and political parties. As the traditional political parties abandoned or avoided efforts to mobilize support among Dalits at the grassroots level, they paved the way for an autonomous Dalit leadership to emerge in the early 1990s. This new leadership has been threatening for backward and upper castes.
Dalit Panthers of India
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Dalit Panthers, and several groups with a Marxist/Leninist or Maoist orientation, emerged outside the framework of recognized political parties and parliamentary politics to confront the established powers. The Dalit Panthers were formed in the state of Maharashtra in the 1970s, ideologically aligning themselves to the Black Panther movement in the United States. During the same period, Dalit literature, painting, and theater challenged the very premise and nature of established art forms and their depiction of society and religion. Many of these new Dalit artists formed the first generation of theDalit Panther movement that sought to wage an organized struggle against the varna system. Dalit Panthers visited “atrocity” sites, organized marches and rallies in villages, and raised slogans of direct militant action against their upper-caste aggressors.46
The determined stance of the Dalit Panthers served to arouse and unite many Dalits, particularly Dalit youths and students. The defeat of ruling party candidates and the boycott of elections in some areas forced the government to take notice of the movement: Panther leaders were often harassed and removed from districts for speaking out against the government and Hindu religion. They also became frequent targets of police brutality and arbitrary detentions. Disagreements over the future of the movement and the inclusion of other caste groups ultimately led to a dispersal of Dalit Panther leadership. The former aggressiveness and militancy of the Dalit Panthers have for the most part dissipated, though small splinter groups or groups that have adopted the name still survive.47 In Tamil Nadu, for example, the Dalit Panthers of India have thrived since the 1980s as a nonviolent awareness-raising and organizing movement concentrating primarily on women’s rights and land issues and claims. They are currently led by a man named Tirumavalavan. As documented in chapters V and VIII, their members are continually harassed and detained by the police.
The origins of the Naxalite movement can be traced to a breakaway Maoist group in West Bengal, which in March 1967 split from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) over differences in ideology: while CPI(M) chose the parliamentary path to change, the Maoist group chose to engage in armed struggle. The group initiated a series of peasant uprisings beginning in a village in the state of West Bengal called Naxalbari, from which rebel leaders took the name “Naxalite.” The peasant communities seized land, burned property records, and assassinated exploitative landlords and others identified as “class enemies.” Although the uprising was brutally crushed within a few months, similar revolts broke out elsewhere in West Bengal and in other parts of India.48
By 1970, Naxalite groups had expanded their efforts to large areas of the countryside stretching from West Bengal to the southern state of Kerala. They engaged in a campaign of land seizure and violence against the police and security forces, as well as against political figures, civil servants, landlords, and other civilians. In many instances, land seizures and other demonstrations of peasant resistance forced landlords to flee their lands. The Naxalites’ abuses included targeted assassinations and kidnappings of political figures and police officials. Naxalite groups also carried out bombings and arson in areas where they were likely to cause civilian casualties and summarily executed, and in some cases tortured to death, suspected police informers. All such practices constitute gross violations of international law. Although the Naxalite insurgency was brought to an end in most parts of the country by a brutal police crackdown designed to eliminate the militants and their supporters, the movement continues to survive, albeit with some splits and regroupings, in the rural areas of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar.
From the outset of the Naxalbari uprising, the government has resorted to extra-legal measures to deal with the Naxalite threat, including extrajudicial executions, torture, and forced disappearances. Most of the victims of police abuse are peasants and laborers. Members and organizers of peasant unions are automatically labeled as Naxalites. Tribal and Dalit villagers are often singled out as Naxalite sympathizers, while attacks on rural activists and striking laborers are sanctioned as part of a campaign to fight “Naxalite terrorism.” Senior police officers with a record of “killing Naxalites” even receive promotions, cash rewards, and favored postings.49
The significance of the Naxalite movement in Bihar’s caste clashes is further discussed in Chapter IV.
The Rise of the “Backward Castes”
For those within the four principal varnas, caste has not proved to be a completely rigid system. Just as the higher ritual status of Brahmins does not necessarily translate into economic or political supremacy, those lower in the ranks are able to move up in the local hierarchy through the capture of political power, the acquisition of land, and migration to other regions. A combination of these strategies and India’s policy of quotas or reservations have particularly benefited the so-called backward castes, or Shudras. Referred to as “other backward classes” (OBCs) in administrative parlance, backward castes are defined as those whose ritual rank and occupational status are above “untouchables” but who themselves remain socially and economically depressed.
Contrary to the general presumption that the OBCs belong to the deprived sections of Hindu society, few groups in independent India have made progress on a scale comparable to the OBCs. However, it must be noted that the term OBCs is a problematic categorization. One author writes that OBCs
span such a wide cultural and structural arch as to be almost meaningless. There are at one extreme the dominant, landowning, peasant castes which wield power and authority over local Vaishyas and Brahmins, whereas at the other extreme are the poor, near-Untouchable groups living just above the pollution line. The category also includes many artisan and servicing castes.50
Some academics have divided Shudras into two clearly identifiable subcategories: upper Shudras and lower Shudras. In north India the upper Shudras comprise such economically powerful and politically aggressive groups as the Jats and Yadavs. The Jats, though not officially included in the OBC list, still regard themselves as the leaders of the backward castes.
The inclusion of so many heterogeneous groups within the OBC category has both made for its enormous size and has enabled its leaders to advocate their claim for special status and land in post-independence India. The first wave of land reform in the 1950s aimed at conferring ownership rights on existing tenants of land. Land reform legislation was responsible for displacing the large class of zamindars (large landowners) and creating a substantial class of medium-sized owner-cultivators, many of whom were OBCs. After cornering the benefits of this first wave of legislation, these groups attempted to block all subsequent land reformmeasures designed to benefit marginal farmers and the landless, who usually belonged to castes and groups lower on the social hierarchy, most notably Dalits.51 Economic prosperity soon translated into political gains for OBCs, while the reservation system of quotas—successfully implemented—ensured them a presence in the state machinery.52
In 1980 the National Police Commission noted a disturbing trend in caste conflicts between backward castes and scheduled castes:
In the recent years we have also seen a new factor emerging in the social struggle in rural areas in which the “backward classes” have been surging forward to take up positions of power and control in society, knocking down the upper castes who had held sway in such positions all along in the past. In this process of marching forward, the backward classes tend to push back the Scheduled Castes and others who occupy the lower rung in the social hierarchical ladder. There is greater tensionbetween structural neighbours in this hierarchy than between the top level and the bottom level.53
The pattern has since solidified such that caste clashes are far more prevalent between scheduled castes and backward castes than they are between these groups and upper castes. The Home Ministry’s Annual Report for 1995 reported that caste-related incidents in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Maharashtra increased by 25 to 30 percent from previous years. A majority of these incidents were taking place between scheduled castes and OBCs.54 The trend has continued, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu, as documented in Chapter V.
Criticisms Regarding Caste System In India
There has been criticism of the caste system from both within and outside of India. Criticism of the Caste system in Indian society came both from the Indian fold and without.
The caste system has been criticised by many Indian social reformers over India’s history.
For example, Jyotirao Phule vehemently criticised any explanations that the caste system was natural and ordained by the Creator in Hindu texts. If Brahma wanted castes, argued Phule, he would have ordained the same for other creatures. There are no castes in species of animals or birds, so why should there be one among human animals. In his criticism Phule added, “Brahmins cannot claim superior status because of caste, because they hardly bothered with these when wining and dining with Europeans.” Professions did not make castes, and castes did not decide one’s profession. If someone does a job that is dirty, it does not make them inferior; in the same way that no mother is inferior because she cleans the excreta of her baby. Ritual occupation or tasks, argued Phule, do not make any human being superior or inferiority.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) regarded that the Caste system had been strengthened by the British, and they had been using it in order to exploit the Indian people, Dadabhai Naoroji wrote that:-
It may be said that Hindus of high caste may not respect those of lower castes in the service. Is it for the British to maintain and encourage such distinction and feeling? Or is it the mission of Britain.
Vivekananda similarly criticised caste as one of the many human institutions that bars the power of free thought and action of an individual. Caste or no caste, creed or no creed, any man, or class, or caste, or nation, or institution that bars the power of free thought and bars action of an individual is devilish, and must go down. Liberty of thought and action, asserted Vivekananda, is the only condition of life, of growth and of well-being.
People winnowing in a Dalit village near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
The maltreatment of Dalits in India has been described by some authors as “India’s hidden apartheid”. Critics of the accusations point to substantial improvements in the position of Dalits in post-independence India, consequent to the strict implementation of the rights and privileges enshrined in the Constitution of India, as implemented by the Protection of Civil rights Act, 1955. They also argue that the practise had disappeared in urban public life.
Sociologists Kevin Reilly, Stephen Kaufman and Angela Bodino, while critical of caste system, conclude that modern India does not practice apartheid since there is no state-sanctioned discrimination. They write that casteism in India is presently “not apartheid. In fact, untouchables, as well as tribal people and members of the lowest castes in India benefit from broad affirmative action programmes and are enjoying greater political power.”
Allegations that caste amounts to race has been rejected by prominent scholars. Ambedkar, for example, wrote that “The Brahmin of Punjab is racially of the same stock as the Chamar of Punjab. The Caste system does not demarcate racial division. The Caste system is a social division of people of the same race.” Prominent sociologists, anthropologists and historians have rejected the racial origins and racial emphasis of caste and consider the idea to be one that has purely political and economical undertones. Beteille writes that “the Scheduled Castes of India taken together are no more a race than are the Brahmins taken together. Every social group cannot be regarded as a race simply because we want to protect it against prejudice and discrimination”, and that the 2001 Durban conference on racism hosted by the U.N. is “turning its back on established scientific opinion”.
Other scholars propose that caste and race based discrimination may be related. Cahill, for example, suggests that the social structure engineered by colonial Spaniards, with limpieza de sangre, in South America, one based on race, ethnicity and economic condition was a caste system. The Spanish colonial rule posited, according to Cahill, that the character and quality of people varied according to their colour, race and origin of ethnic types. Caste system and racism have empirically been the two faces of the same coin in recent human history, in a colonial migrant society outside of India. Martínez calls the discriminatory social structure in New Spain as a caste system that was race based colonial order, inspired in part by degrees of racial impurity. Haviland suggests that race and caste systems are related and each a type of social stratification. Both create social classes determined by birth and fixed for life. Both are opposite of the principle that all humans are born equal, both tend to be endogamous, and offsprings are automatically members of parent’s social strata. As examples, Haviland describes castelike situations in Central and South America where wealthy, upper class European-descent population rarely intermarried with people of non-European descent; the social strata in current practice by the royal families and nobility in modern Europe; racial segregation and castelike separation of people by their ethnicity in townships of modern South Africa.
Social Legitimacy And Institutionalization Of Discrimination
Laws related to caste discrimination
India’s constitution includes the recognition of ‘fundamental rights’ and the prevention of untouchability. To realize the constitutional promise of the prevention of untouchability, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 was enacted, which criminalizes any acts of preaching and practising untouchability. Sections 4-7 in particular detail that punishment is to be meted to those preventing persons–on the grounds of untouchability–from entering public areas (roads, water sources, shops) or temples; preventing them from undertaking any profession or trade; from occupying or acquiring residence premises; from participating in any social or religious custom, tradition or festival; from being admitted to hospitals or denied treatment; for refusing to sell goods or render services; for practising social boycotts.
The problem with the law was that it did not specify any investigation or prosecution mechanisms, which seriously affected its implementation. Without having built-in mechanisms to prevent non-registration of complaints and mandatory provisions for the investigation and prosecution of crimes that fall under it, the law was destined to fail, since the individuals responsible for its implementation believed in a contrary social practice fortified by religion and custom. Furthermore, in comparison to the gravity of the offense, the punishment prescribed was too low–imprisonment for a minimum period of one month and not to exceed six months; and a maximum fine of 500 rupees, and not less than 100 rupees.
It is these aspects that were sought to be covered by the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 provides for penal provisions against atrocities committed against members of the Dalit community and other lower castes. The rules formulated in accordance with the legislation also provide for protection to the lower castes and are more preventive in nature. However, the law and rules are limited. They do not take away the root cause–the caste system.
In cases where compensation is awarded the amounts of damages are far below international standards.
Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, which provides for punishment for instigating acts of enmity between groups based on religion, race, place of birth, residence, language and so on, is far less enforceable since the burden of proof in criminal trials is high. But that does not mean the standards of trial should be brought down. The chances of a probable conviction, however, are far too low. Yet all these literally do not answer the issue of caste system in India.
The human rights institutions in the country, namely the national and state-level human rights commissions, do not have any authority to make an affirmative action on receiving a complaint. The powers of these institutions are restricted to that of an advisory nature. Sections 12 and 13 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act limit the authority of the rights commissions to receipt of complaint, inquiry, inspection and either to refer the matter to appropriate authority for further action or to provide advice to the government.
The limitation may make the institutions literally incapable of taking any affirmative action for the protection of human rights. An order of compensation awarded by these institutions does not have an executable authority. Such an order can only recommend the government to collect the fine from the perpetrator and disburse the amount to the victim. If the perpetrator is not an employee of the government, the possibility of implementing the compensation order will be low. Even when the perpetrator is a government employee the order is often not executed. That makes the system itself a mockery and may result in discouraging the victims from approaching these institutions.
India also has limited its ratification to the primary international covenants by opting out from the authority of independent committees constituted under the covenants to receive individual complaints. Hence for a victim of human rights violation, the matter needs to be addressed within the country where the remedies are inadequate or almost unachievable [Bijo Francis, ‘Caste away by castes’, Human Rights SOLIDARITY, vol. 14, no. 5, September 2004, pp 29-30].
Sections 153 A & B of the Indian Penal Code 1891 can be applied in cases involving caste based discrimination, as well as cases with a religious or communal element:
153 A: Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony
(a) By words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place or birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or
(b) Commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquility, [or]
(c) Organizes any exercise, movement, drill or other similar activity intending that the participants in such activity shall use or be trained to use criminal force or violence of knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, or participates in such activity intending to use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, against any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community and such activity for any reason whatsoever causes or is likely to cause fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity amongst members of such religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community,
Shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
(2) Whoever commits an offence specified in sub-section (1) in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
153 B: Section 153B. Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration
(1) Whoever, by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, –
(a) Makes or publishes any imputation that any class of persons cannot, by reason or their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, bear true faith and allegiance to Constitution of India as by law established or uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, or
(b) Asserts, counsels, advises, propagates or publishes that any class or persons shall, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, be denied or deprived of their rights as citizens of India or
(c) Makes or publishes any assertion, counsel, plea or appeal concerning the obligation of any class of persons, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste of community, and such assertion, counsel, pleas or appeal causes or is likely to cause disharmony or feelings of enmity or hatred or ill-will between such members and other persons,
Shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
(2) Whoever commits an offence specified in sub-section (1), in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall be liable to fine.
The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 again has nothing to do with caste based discrimination in particular, but it established a ‘human rights commission’ at the national and state level, which could entertain complaints concerning the violation of human rights, including rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
Despite these laws, caste discrimination is still a part of India’s social and political fabric today. This is both a rule of law issue, and an issue of social perception/acceptance. For several years, the AHRC has consistently maintained that India is facing a collapse of rule of law. All sorts of laws are routinely disregarded, justice institutions are malfunctioning and public officials do everything but their jobs.
In its submission to the 70th session of the CERD Committee in 2007, the ALRC noted that
All the domestic legislations depend upon the local policing for its effective implementation… The police in India are often seen as a criminal in uniform by the ordinary Indians.
Any violation of human rights in India could be challenged at a domestic court. However, the court itself depends upon the local police to investigate and execute its orders. There are umpteen examples to how the court orders have failed in preventing further violation of rights and also in delivering the intended result… thus far various orders of the Supreme Court regarding implementation of its orders have failed to be implemented [ALRC, ‘A Supplementary Document Concerning Caste Discrimination in India’, 2007, pp10-11].
In this environment it is not surprising that laws relating to caste discrimination and untouchability are not enforced.
With regards to social perception, the caste system is ingrained into the country’s mentality. Government officials, politicians, law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens all follow these practices. While many follow them for religious or cultural reasons, others follow them to retain benefits and privileges, some of which they have become used to seeing as their ‘rights’ by virtue of descent. The AHRC routinely comes across cases for instance, where police officers refuse to file complaints made by Dalits because ‘a Dalit has no right to complain’. From a caste hierarchy perspective, Dalits deserve no better than what they get, and have no right to make complaints about individuals from upper castes. On the other hand, the police are given bribes by the perpetrators of abuse against Dalits to not file their complaints and to harass them, and may even be related or on friendly terms with them.
Not only do police and judicial officers practice untouchability in both their personal and professional lives, but government bodies employ Dalits as ‘cheap labor’ and to do ‘dirty jobs’, as can be seen in Lesson 2, with regard to the Indian Railways employing Dalits as manual scavengers. The Indian government is in fact interested in maintaining the status quo, hence its consistent refusal to acknowledge caste discrimination as a problem internationally.
The caste system has no legality in India and discrimination against lower castes is illegal in India under Article 15 of its constitution. However, sporadic Caste-related discrimination and violence continue to be reported. Since 1950, the country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste population. These caste classifications for college admission quotas, job reservations and other affirmative action initiatives, according to India’s Supreme Court, is based on heredity and is not changeable. These initiatives by India, over time, have led to many lower caste members being elected to the highest political offices including the election of K.R. Narayanan, a Dalit, as President of the nation from 1997 to 2002.
We have witnessed that in India there prevailed the caste system in a huge scale and the lower caste people suffered a lot. From time to time various legislations were introduced to make them a part of the developing country but still it has remained as a huge matter of concern to be solved.
It has also been witnessed that lower caste people mostly suffer because they are unaware of their rights that are enshrined in the constitution of India and this is because they are poorly educated. Therefore it is required that education must be provided in a large scale.
Moreover there are problems in the implementation of the existing laws. These laws were mostly made during the framing of the constitution and therefore have become outdated in the present situation.
And the reservation provisions has also become outdated as the backward sections have also developed during the last few decades and now these provisions have become a violating one for the upper caste peoples.
However the lower caste people are still suffering from discrimination in the society they live and which is likely to continue till India subsists so we can only hope that one day this evil will remove from our society and all of us will become one as an Indian.