India Caste and Class Country Studies

A man reacts after being hit in the face with pepper spray during a clash between counter protestors and Neo Nazis, Alt-Right, and White Supremacist groups after they marched through the University of Virginia Campus with torches in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 66. Dissimilarities between perceptions of caste system among Indians of racism among Americans. My experience suggests perceptions of the caste system among Indians and of racism among Americans have two key differences, one of   degree   and the other of   kind. The one of degree is   longevity. Thousands of years older, India's caste system has had that much more time to get thoroughly marinated in people's psyche. Inequities that should rightfully horrify any decent mind have thus become part of daily life, meaning people display a shocking degree of acceptance about the whole kit and caboodle of caste.

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The Caste System and Stages of Life in Hinduism

Such wholesale acceptance of structural inequities is somewhat less visible except to discerning eyes in the frantic churn of huge, bustling metros, but much more so going down to smaller towns, becoming especially visible in the hamlets and villages of rural India. The one of   kind   is the diabolically clever manner by which the Indian caste system was kept in place through history, by ascribing actions of the past life, one's past life's karmas, as the arbiter for present life caste. Many Westerners have heard of India s caste system, but a thorough understanding of its ins and outs is still relatively uncommon. The following sections reveal the nitty-gritty of the caste system. Broadly speaking, a caste system is a process of placing people in occupational groups. It has pervaded several aspects of Indian society for centuries. Rooted in religion and based on a division of labor, the caste system, among other things, dictates the type of occupations a person can pursue and the social interactions that she may have. Castes are an aspect of Hindu religion. Other religions in India do not follow this system. Castes are ranked in hierarchical order (originally, the system wasn t to have a hierarchy based on occupation or birth but purely on personality this has been skewed somehow over time), which determines the behavior of one member of society over another. Even in a modern business setting, where caste isn t openly acknowledged, there may be subtle observances of village or family-style ranking. For instance, a young official may address a senior person, not necessarily his superior, as chachaji, a respectful term for a paternal uncle. India s caste system has four main classes (also called varnas ) based originally on personality, profession, and birth. In descending order, the classes are as follows: The most obvious problem with this system was that under its rigidity, the lower castes were prevented from aspiring to climb higher, and, therefore, economic progress was restricted. LONDON — India chose an “untouchable” as its next president Thursday after the first contest in which both candidates were from the lowest tier of the country's caste system. Ram Nath Kovind, nominated by the ruling BJP party, had been clear favorite for the largely ceremonial post, which is decided by 9,855 lawmakers across the country. Under India’s constitution, the prime minister and his ministers wield executive power but the president sometimes plays a role such as deciding which party should form a government if a general election is inconclusive.

Kovind, 77, is not the first president to be “Dalit, ” a term that means “oppressed” in Sanskrit and refers to members of the lowest caste. Kocheril Raman Narayanan took office in 6997 more than half a century after Gandhi pledged to end the country’s ancient system of discrimination. Growth in India has always been puzzling. For the first decades of democratic India, economists lamented slow economic progress. Some observers worried that India was condemned to permanently sluggish GDP growth. Luckily, things changed. Rapid growth in the last few decades has taken many Indians out of poverty: According to the, the fraction of Indians living in poverty was cut in half between 6998 and 7566. But slow growth of another sort remains a puzzle. These days, what grows too slowly is not India’s economy but its children. When a country gets richer, its children usually get taller. Indian kids remain unhealthily short, even compared with their peers in poorer developing countries. According to the latest figures, a child in is more likely to be stunted than a child in much poorer areas of. They’re also dying in greater numbers than India’s level of development should suggest infant mortality is higher in India than it is in poorer neighbors like Bangladesh and Nepal. This presents a challenge for health economists, who are used to cases where richer societies are healthier societies. When we dug into the causes for our new book,, though, we found that the answer was unique to India. One of the most telling interviews we did was with Ritesh, a higher-caste man from the state of Uttar Pradesh. Like most people in rural India, he, his wife, and their children defecate in the open: Instead of using a toilet or latrine, they go outside, squat, and leave their feces behind.


The family was offered a free latrine by the village leader, but Ritesh refused to accept it because he thought it would be unseemly to have in front of his house and that it would defile the small temple that he had set up to honor Lord Shiva and other gods. The view that a latrine, which people in other societies would see as leading to a cleaner home, could be defiling has its roots in ideas of purity and pollution that govern many aspects of daily life in rural India and that are used to justify caste-based discrimination. The result of widespread open defecation in rural India is an environment full of fecal germs that get into food and water and onto children’s hands and feet. This leads to diarrhea, infections, and chronic intestinal diseases, which kill some children and prevent many of those who survive from absorbing and putting to good use the nutrients in the food that they eat. Children who live near more neighbors who defecate in the open are less likely to survive and are more likely to be stunted. In contrast, when a village’s sanitation improves, its children grow taller. The BBC has updated its cookie policy. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. This includes cookies from third party social media websites if you visit a page which contains embedded content from social media. Such third party cookies may track your use of the BBC website. We and our partners also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the BBC website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time. India's caste system is among the world's oldest forms of surviving social stratification. The BBC explains its complexities. The system which divides into rigid hierarchical groups based on their karma (work) and dharma (the Hindi word for religion, but here it means duty) is generally accepted to be more than 8,555 years old. , widely regarded to be the most important and authoritative book on Hindu law and dating back to at least 6,555 years before Christ was born, acknowledges and justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society.

The caste system divides Hindus into four main categories - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Many believe that the groups originated from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. CHENNAI, India — Chezi K. Ganesan looks every inch the high-tech entrepreneur, dressed in the Silicon Valley uniform of denim shirt and khaki trousers, slick smartphone close at hand. His family has come a long way. His grandfather was not allowed to enter Hindu temples, or even to stand too close to upper-caste people, and women of his Nadar caste, who stood one notch above untouchables in ’s ancient caste hierarchy, were once forced to bare their breasts before upper caste men as a reminder of their low station. “Caste has no impact on life today, ” Mr. Ganesan said in an interview at one of Chennai’s exclusive social clubs, the kind of place where a generation ago someone of his caste would not have been welcome. “It is no longer a barrier. ”The Nadars’ spectacular rise from despised manual laborers who made a mildly alcoholic palm wine to business leaders in one of India’s most prosperous states offers significant clues to India’s caste conundrum and how it has impeded economic progress in many parts of the country. India is enjoying an extended economic boom, with near double-digit growth. But the benefits have not been equally shared, and southern India has rocketed far ahead of much of the rest of the country on virtually every score — people here earn more money, are better educated, live longer lives and have fewer children. Ram Nath Kovind, India s new president who took office today, represents an unusual case of a little-known politician from the country s lowest caste, the Dalits, rising to power. However, as others champion his victory, India s Christian minority the majority of whom are Dalits themselves know that a Hindu nationalist politician from the Dalit caste is still a Hindu nationalist politician. Like the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that nominated him, Kovind represents a continued threat to non-Hindus in India, including its estimated 75 million to 65 million Christians. (As CT has, that s a tiny minority amid 6 billion Hindus, but still sizable enough to rank among the 75 countries with the most Christians, surpassing Christian countries such as Uganda and Greece. There is no room for Christians in his understanding. Since 7569, India has been led by Prime Minister, a BJP leader notorious among Christians for permitting religious freedom violations to spread unchecked.

Meanwhile, the position of president is mostly ceremonial and selected by lawmakers.