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Caste system in India

Caste system in India

The Caste System in India is a system of social stratification,[1] social restriction and a basis for affirmative action[2][3] in India. Historically, the caste system in India defined communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jtis. The Jtis were grouped by the Brahminical texts under the four well known caste categories (the varnas): viz Brahmins (teachers & scholars, fire priests), Kshatriyas (warriors, law enforcers, administrators), Vaishyas (agriculturists, cattle-herders and traders), and Shudras (laborers, craftsmen, service providers).[4][5][6][7] Certain people like the chandalas (who dealt with disposal of the dead) were excluded altogether and treated as untouchables.[8]

Gandhi visiting Chennai in 1933 on an India-wide tour for Harijan causes. His speeches during such tours discussed the discriminated castes of India and appealed for the eradication of untouchability.

Although identified with Hinduism, caste systems were also observed among other religions in the Indian subcontinent, including some groups of Muslims and Christians.[9][10] The later similar to the caste system reported in the Igbo-Osu Christian community in Africa.[11][12] Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but contemporary scholars argue that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime.[2][13] Caste is neither unique to Hindu religion nor to India; it has been observed, for example, in Muslim community of Yemen, Christian colonies of Spain, and Buddhist community of Japan.[1][14][15] The Indian government officially recognizes historically discriminated lowest castes of India such as Shudras and Untouchables as Scheduled Castes.[8][16] These Schedules 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.[17] Since 1950, India has enacted and implemented many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socio-economic conditions of its Dalit population.[18] By 1995, of all jobs in India, 17.2 percent of the jobs were held by Dalits, greater than their proportion in Indian population.[19] Of the highest paying, senior most jobs in government agencies and government controlled enterprises, over 10 percent of all highest paying jobs were held by members of the Dalit community, a tenfold increase in 40 years. In 1997, India democratically elected K.R. Narayanan, a Dalit, as the nation's President.[19] In last 15 years, Indians born in historically discriminated minority castes have been elected to its highest judicial and political offices.[20][21] The quality of life of Dalit population in India, in 2001, in terms of metrics such as access to health care, life expectancy, education attainability, access to drinking water, housing, etc. was statistically similar to overall population of modern India.[22][23][24] A 2003 report claims inter-caste marriage is on the rise in urban India. Indian societal relationships are changing because of female literacy and education, women at work, urbanization, need for two-income families, and influences from the media.[25] India's overall economic growth has produced the fastest and more significant socio-economic changes to the historical injustice to its minorities. Legal and social program initiatives are no longer India's primary constraint in further advancement of India's historically discriminated sections of society and the poor. 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.[26]

Caste system in India

There is no universally accepted theory about the origins of the Indian caste system. The Indian classes and Iranian classes ("pistras") show similarity,[27] wherein the priests are Brahmins, the warriors are Kshatriya, the merchants are Vaishya, and the artisans are Shudras.[28][29] 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."[30] Criticisms of these understandings of the caste system point out that Varna itself means a complexion, and these Varnas are nothing more than a social classification based on the activities that the individual is involved in. Restrictions to performing religious rites were more Nair soldiers attending the King of Cochin: A 16th related to the profession rather than the caste in which the person is Century European portrait. born. i.e., an individual born in a Brahmin family involved in sweeping houses would be considered a Shudra, even though a Brahmin by birth. Such an individual would have to go through a 'shuddhikaran' (purification), a bath in the Ganges or an equivalent procedure before being eligible to enter a temple. There are instances in the Hindu religious tales illustrating birth not determining religious restrictions (Shabri, Valmiki, and others). However, there are also instances showing birth determining religious restrictions (Shambuka, Ekalavya, and others).

Caste and social status

Traditionally, in north Indian society, the political power usually lay with the Kshatriyas, the economic power with the Vaishyas and Shudras, while the Brahmins, as custodians and interpreters of Dharma, enjoyed much prestige and were given many advantages by society, even though they were economically poor. Practising Brahmins were in fact prohibited from owning wealth. [31] 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."[32] In this period kings of Sudra and Brahmin origin were as common as those of Kshatriya Varna and caste system was not wholly rigid.[33]

Caste system in India

The prevalent system did not rigidly restrict the occupation or the social status of a group, based on birth. Since British society was divided by class, the British attempted to equate the Indian caste system to their own social class system. They saw caste as an indicator of occupation, social standing, and intellectual ability.[35] The caste system became formally 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. According to Zwart, caste used to be thought of as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but contemporary scholars argue that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime ex hypothesi.[2]

The Harijans or untouchables, the people outside the caste system, traditionally had the lowest social status. Theuntouchables lived in the periphery of the society, and handled what were seen as unpleasant or polluting jobs. They suffered from social segregation and restrictions, in addition to being poor generally. They were not allowed to worship in temples with others, nor draw water from the same wells as others. Persons of other castes would not interact with them. If somehow a member of another caste came into physical or social contact with an untouchable, he was defiled and had to bathe thoroughly to purge himself of the contagion. Social discrimination developed even among the untouchables; sub-castes among them, such as the Dhobi and Nai, would not interact with lower-order Bhangis, who handled night-soil and were described as "outcastes even among outcastes." Sociologists have commented on the historical advantages offered by a rigid social structure as well as its drawbacks. While caste is now seen as anachronistic, in its original form the caste system served as an instrument of order in a cooperative society where mutual consent rather than compulsion ruled;[36] where the rights and the economic obligations of members of one caste or sub-caste were strictly circumscribed in relation to those of any other caste or sub-caste; where one was born into one's caste and retained one's station in society for life; where merit and expertise was inherited, where equality existed within the caste, but inter-caste relations were dynamic often unequal and hierarchical. A well-defined system of mutual interdependence through a division of labour created security within a community.[36][37] In addition, the division of labour on the basis of ethnicity allowed immigrants and foreigners to quickly integrate into their own caste niches.[38] The caste system played an influential role in shaping economic activities,[39] where it functioned much like medieval European guilds, ensuring the division of labour, providing for the training of apprentices, development and protection of intellectual property and, in some cases, allowing manufacturers to achieve narrow specialisation and global monopoly. For instance, producing each variety of cloth was the specialty of a particular sub-caste, but the weavers of Dhaka produced the renowned muslin that was in demand internationally. It has been suggested that the majority of people tend to be comfortable in stratified endogamous groups, as they have always been, since ancient times.[40]

A page from the manuscript Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, which consists of 72 full-color hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madurai, India [34] in 1837.

Caste system in India

Before the British use of Varna categories for enumerating and ranking the Jatis in the decennial census, the relative ranking of the Jatis and castes was fluid and differed from one place to another, based on their political and economic power.[41] Sociologists such as Bernard Buber and Marriott McKim describe how the perception of the caste system as a static and textual stratification has given way to the perception of the caste system as a more processual, empirical and contextual stratification. Other sociologists such as Y.B. Damle have applied theoretical models to explain mobility and flexibility in the caste system in India.[42]

Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, 1837.

According to these scholars, groups of lower-caste individuals could seek to elevate the status of their caste by attempting to emulate the practices of higher castes. Flexibility in caste laws permitted very low-caste religious clerics such as Valmiki to compose the Ramayana, which became a central work of Hindu scripture. There is also precedent of certain Shudra families within the temples of the Sri Vaishnava sect in South India elevating their caste.[42] The following is a list of changes in varna cited in Hindu texts: Manu eldest son [Priyavrata] became king, a Kshatriya. Out of his ten sons, seven became kings while three became Brahman. Their names were Mahavira, Kavi and Savana. (Ref bhagwat puran chap.5) Kavash Ailush was born to a Sudra and attained the varna of a Rishi. He became mantra-drashta to numerous Vedic mantras in Rig-Veda 10th Mandal. Jabalas son [Satyakama] born from unknown father became Rishi by his qualities. [Matanga] became a Rishi after his birth in low Varna. According to some psychologists, mobility across broad caste lines may have been "minimal", though sub-castes (jatis) may have changed their social status over the generations by fission, re-location, and adoption of new rituals.[43] Sociologist M. N. Srinivas has also debated the question of rigidity in caste. In an ethnographic study of the Coorgs of Karnataka, he observed considerable flexibility and mobility in their caste hierarchies.[44][45] He asserts that the caste system is far from rigid in which the position of each component caste is fixed for all time; instead, movement has always been possible, especially in the middle regions of the hierarchy. It was always possible for groups born into a lower caste to "rise to a higher position by adopting vegetarianism and teetotalism," i.e., adopt the customs of the higher castes. While theoretically "forbidden," the process Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, 1837. was not uncommon in practice. The concept of sanskritization (the adoption of upper-caste norms by the lower castes) addressed the complexity and fluidity of caste relations.

Caste system in India The fact that many of the dynasties were of obscure origin suggests some social mobility: A person of any caste, having once acquired political power, could also acquire a genealogy connecting him with the traditional lineages and conferring Kshatriya status. A number of new castes, such as the Kayasthas (scribes) and Khatris (traders), are mentioned in the sources of this period. According to the Brahmanic sources, they originated from intercaste marriages, but this is clearly an attempt at rationalizing their rank in the hierarchy. Khatri appears to be unquestionably a Prakritised form of the Sanskrit Kshatriya.[46] Many of these new castes played a major role in society. The hierarchy of castes did not have a uniform distribution throughout the country.[47]

There have been challenges to the caste system from the time of Buddha,[48] Mahavira and Makkhali Gosala. Opposition to the system of vara is regularly asserted in the Yoga Upaniad-s and is a constant feature of Cna-cra tantrism, a Chinese-derived movement in Asom; both date to the medieval era. The Ntha system, which was founded by Matsya-indra Ntha and Go-raka Ntha in the same era and spread throughout India, has likewise been consistently opposed to the system of varna. Many Bhakti period saints rejected the caste discriminations and accepted all castes, including untouchables, into their fold. During the British Raj, this sentiment gathered steam, and many Hindu reform movements such as Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj renounced caste-based discrimination. The inclusion of so-called untouchables (Many untouchables converted to Buddhism) into the mainstream was argued for by many social reformers (see Historical criticism, below). Mahatma Gandhi called them "Harijans" (children of God) although that term is now considered patronizing and the term Dalit (downtrodden) is the more commonly used. Gandhi's contribution toward the emancipation of the untouchables is still debated, especially in the commentary of his contemporary Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, an untouchable who frequently saw Gandhi's activities as detrimental to the cause of upliftment of his people. In the south, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy had significantly contributed to social and caste reforms. The practice of untouchability was formally outlawed by the Constitution of India in 1950, and has declined significantly since then, to the point of a society allowing former untouchables to take high political office, like former President K. R. Narayanan, who took office in 1997,[49] and former Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan.[50]

British rule
The fluidity of the caste system was affected by the arrival of the British. Prior to that, the relative ranking of castes differed from one place to another.[41] The castes did not constitute a rigid description of the occupation or the social status of a group. The British attempted to equate the Indian caste system to their own class system, viewing caste as an indicator of occupation, social standing, and intellectual ability.[35] During the initial days of the British East India Company's rule, caste differences and customs were accepted, if not encouraged,[51] but the British law courts disagreed with the discrimination against the lower castes. However, British policies of divide and rule as well as enumeration of the population into rigid categories during the 10 year census contributed towards the hardening of caste identities.[52] Theoretically, all foreigners are considered to be casteless; in the 18th century, the high-caste Brahmins avoided undertaking sea trips, as they considered the European merchants as untouchable.[53]

Caste system in India

Modern status of the caste system

The injustice of caste system, and the means of addressing it, has been an active topic of modern Indian discourse, particularly in the last 80 years. In 1933, the seriousness of the issue and its trauma on Indian consciousness, is exemplified by the following message from Ambedkar to Gandhi: The Out-caste is a bye-product of the Caste system. There will be outcastes as long as there are castes. Nothing can emancipate the Out-caste except the destruction of the Caste system. Nothing can help to save Hindus and ensure their survival in the coming struggle except the purging of the Hindu Faith of this odious and vicious dogma. Dr. Ambedkar, 1933[54] A 2004 report, compiled by a society of Dalits and people against caste-based discrimination, summarized the developments over last 60 years, and status of the caste system in modern India, as follows:[19] Article 15 of Indian Constitution, as enacted in 1950, prohibits any discrimination based on caste.[18] Article 17 of Indian Constitution declared any practice of untouchability as illegal.[18]

The massive 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests by higher-caste Hindus

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.[55] In 1955, India enacted the Untouchability (Offenses) Act (renamed in 1976, as the Protection of Civil Rights Act). Its extended the reach of law, from intent to mandatory enforcement. In 1989, India passed a new law, namely the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. This law is similar to the Hate Crime Laws in the United States.[56] 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 slowed or prevented by regulations, government jobs have dominated the percentage of jobs in its economy. In 1990s, India adopted free market reforms which has led to rapid growth of its economies; still, a 2000 report estimated that most jobs in India were in companies owned by the government or agencies of the government.[19] 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, some 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.[19]

Caste system in India In 1997, India democratically elected K. R. Narayanan, a Dalit, as the nation's President. 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, democratically 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."[20] In 2009. Indian parliament unanimously elected Meira Kumar, as the first woman speaker. She is from Dalit community.[21] In addition to taking affirmative action for people of schedule castes and schedules 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 Commissions 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.[57] In a 2008 study, Desai et al. focussed on education attainments of children and young adults aged 629, 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: 1983, 19871988, 19931994, and 19992000. They found:[58] Over the 16 year period, from 1983 to 1999, there is a significant increase in dalits and tribal children in their odds of completing primary school. The number of dalit children who completed either middle, high or college level education increased by 81 percent, from 21 percent in 1983 to 38 percent in 1999. This compares to national average increase of 36 percent. The number of dalit girls in India who attended school went from 16 percent in 1983, to 33 percent in 1999. According to tests and regression analysis on 100,000 household data across the nation, there is statistically significant change at both early and late educational transitions for males and females alike, in dalit populations of India. This suggests that, as of 1999, the social inequalities with respect to school enrollment have changed over time, within 16 years, as have the inequalities in college completion. These changes are net of any secular changes that might have occurred due to rising levels of household income or urbanization for the entire nation. Educational inequalities, Desai et al. claim are a function of many different factors: availability and quality of schools, returns to education, parental demand for schooling, and teachers attitudes. Within the context of their analysis, it is not possible to show unambiguously that the changes observed were the results of government programs. Compensatory and positive discrimination policies such as reservations and government funded scholarships have created a resentment from poor upper caste Indians who are denied the benefit of reservations and who are too poor to afford an education on their own, midst the general shortage of quality and quantity of schools. Other poor 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 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.[22] The quality and quantity of schools are now India's major issue.[59] A study by Singh presents data on health and other indicators of socio-economic change in India's historically discriminated castes. He claims:[24] 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.

Caste system in India 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 19952005, compared to a national average change from 35 to 27 percent. An indicator of caste-based violence, extent of hate crimes, disease and systematic discrimination in health care availability is the average life expectancy distribution for various castes. 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.[23]

Life expectancy statistics for Indian caste groups

Life expectancy at birth (in years) Castes group Lowest castes Other backward castes 1998-1999 61.5 63.5 2005-2006 64.6 65.7 56.9 62.7 65.5

Poor, tribal populations 57.5 Poor, upper castes National Average 61.9 63.8

A 2003 article in The Telegraph claimed that inter-caste marriage and dating are not uncommon in urban India. Indian societal and family relationships are changing because of female literacy and education, women at work, urbanization, 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.[25] The caste system is still socially relevant in India. Caste has become (see Caste politics in India) an important factor in the politics of rural India, although elections in the first decade of the 21st century seem to have diminished a hold that was very much evident in the previous few decades. The Government of India has officially documented castes and sub-castes, primarily to determine those deserving reservation (positive discrimination in education and jobs) through the census. The Indian reservation system relies on quotas. The Government lists consist of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes: Scheduled castes (SC) Scheduled castes generally consist of "Dalit". The present population is 16% of the total population of India (around 165 million).[60] For example, the Delhi state has 49 castes listed as SC.[61] 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 million. 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%.[62] 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.[63] 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).

Caste system in India The government is carrying out caste census for 2011.[64] It will help in verifying the claims and counterclaims by various sections of the society about their actual numbers. It would also help the government to re-examine and even undo some of the policies which were formed in haste like Mandal commission and bring more objectivity to the policies with contemporary realities.[65] Others 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 declare themselves to be from a backward caste, to avail of the benefits. This will 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, if such dubious caste declarations are challenged.[66]

Caste systems among non-Hindus

In some parts of India, Christians are stratified by sect, location, and the castes of their predecessors,[67] usually in reference to upper class Syrian Christians. Christians in Kerala are divided into several communities, including Syrian Christians and the so-called "Latin" or "New Rite" Christians. 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 the new world - the Indies, the New Spain and the Viceroyalty of Peru, within the last 500 years.[14] Kerala Syrian Christians derive status within the caste system from the tradition that they are converted High caste Hindus such as Namboodiris and Nairs and also some Jewish traders, who were evangelized by St. Thomas.[68] Writers Arundhati Roy and Anand Kurian have written personal accounts of the caste system at work in their community.[69][70][71][72] Latin Rite Christians were actively converted by missionaries in the 16th and 19th centuries. These missionary activities were carried out by Western Latin Rite missionaries who did not understand the significance of the caste system in India; none of the Syrian churches had participated in such activities among the scheduled castes of India because they were aware of the prejudices of the caste system.[73] Latin Rite Christians in Kerala were later granted with OBC status. Very rarely are there intermarriages between Syrian Christians and Latin Rite Christians. Anthropologists have noted that the caste hierarchy among Christians in Kerala is much more polarized than the Hindu practices in the surrounding areas, due to a lack of jatis. Also, the caste status is kept even if the sect allegiance is switched (i.e. from Syrian Catholic to Syrian Orthodox).[74] Goa In the Indian state of Goa, mass conversions were carried out by Portuguese Latin missionaries from the 16th century onwards. The Hindu converts retained their caste practices. The continued maintenance of the caste system among the Christians in Goa is attributed to the nature of mass conversions of entire villages, as a result of which existing social stratification was not affected. The Portuguese colonists, even during the Goan Inquisition, did not do anything to change the caste system. Thus, the original Hindu Brahmins in Goa now became Christian Bamonns and the Kshatriya became Christian noblemen called Chardos. The Christian clergy became almost exclusively Bamon. Vaishyas who converted to Christianity became Gauddos, and Shudras became Sudirs. Finally, the Dalits or "Untouchables" who converted to Christianity became Maharas and Chamars, the latter an appellation of the anti-Dalit ethnic slur Chamaar.

Caste system in India


Despite Islam's clear prohibitions against a caste-like system, units of social stratification have developed among Muslims in some parts of South Asia.[75][76] Sources indicate that the castes among Muslims developed as the result of close contact with Hindu culture and Hindu converts to Islam.[75][76][77][78] The Sachar Committee's report commissioned by the government of India and released in 2006 documents the continued stratification in Muslim society, though stratification is not as rigid as the Hindu system, nor is it condoned by Islam. Among Muslims, those who are referred to as Ashrafs are presumed to have a superior status derived from their foreign Arab ancestry,[79][80] while the Ajlafs are assumed to be converts from Hinduism, and have a lower status. However, this may be more accurately described as ethnocentrism, since no prohibitions or rules are imposed on Aljafs, or their mingling with Ashrafs. In addition, the Arzal caste among Muslims was regarded by anti-caste activists like Ambedkar as the equivalent of untouchables, due to their low socioeconomic status.[81][82] In the Bengal region of India, some Muslims stratify their society according to 'Quoms,' though this is a description of their menial labour, and is not a rigid strata of society in strictly the same manner as a caste.[83] While many scholars have asserted that the Muslim "castes" are not as acute in their discrimination as those of the Hindus,[78][84] some like Ambedkar argued that the social evils in Sub-continental Muslim society were "worse than those seen in Hindu society", which may be due to the influence of Hindu society in which they dwell.[81][82]

The Sikh Gurus criticized the hierarchy of the caste system. While some castes were widely perceived as being better or higher than others, they preached that all sections of society were valuable and that merit and hard-work were essential aspects of life. In the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, out of 140 seats, 20 are reserved for low caste Sikhs. However, the quota system has attracted much criticism due to the lack of meritocracy, since merit is considered the single most important component of winning a seat.[85]

The Buddha specifically denounced the caste system and there was no practice of caste amongst his immediate followers. So the rest of this section has a questionable status. The Buddhists did not have a caste system. In Sri Lanka, the Rodis might have been outcast by the Sri Lankan Buddhists due to the absence of ahimsa (non-violence), a central tenet of Buddhism, among their beliefs. The writer Raghavan notes, "That a form of worship in which human offerings formed the essential ritual would have been anathema to the Buddhist way of life goes without saying; and it needs no stretch of imagination that any class of people in whom the cult prevailed or survived even in an attenuated form would have been pronounced by the sangha (i.e. the Buddhist clergy) as exiles from the social order." Savarkar believed that the status of the backward castes (e.g. Chamar) that performed non-violence only worsened.[86] 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.[87]

Jains also had castes in places such as Bihar. For example, in the village of Bundela, there were several "jaats" (groups) amongst the Jains. A person of one "jaat" cannot intermingle with a Jain or another "jaat". They also could not eat with the members of other "jaats".[88]

The Baha'i Faith has grown to prominence in India, since its philosophy of the unity of humanity attracted many of the lower castes.[89]

Caste system in India


Caste-related violence
Independent India has witnessed a considerable amount of violence and hate crimes motivated by caste. According to a UN report, approximately 110,000 cases of violent acts committed against Dalits were reported in 2005.[60] Various incidents of violence against Dalits such as Kunbis Kherlanji Massacre and Jats Mirchpur killings in 2010, have been reported from many parts of India. Many violent protests by Dalits, such as the 2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra, have also been reported. An exception to the norm is the Ranvir Sena, a caste-supremacist fringe paramilitary group based in Bihar, which committed violent acts against Dalits. Phoolan Devi, who belonged to the Mallah lower caste, was mistreated and raped by upper-caste Thakurs at a young age. She became a bandit and carried out violent robberies against upper-caste people. In 1981, her gang massacred twenty-two Thakurs, most of whom were not involved in her kidnapping or rape. Later, after an amnesty scheme, she became a politician and Member of Parliament.

Caste politics
B. R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru had radically different approaches to caste, especially concerning constitutional politics and the status of untouchables.[90] Since the 1980s, caste has become a major issue in the politics of India.[90] 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.[91] 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 openly 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.[92] Remarkably, in what is called a landmark election in the history of India's most populated state of Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party was able to garner a majority in the state assembly elections with the support of the high caste Brahmin community.

There has been criticism of the caste system from both within and outside of India.[93] Criticism of the Caste system in Hindu society came both from the Hindu fold and without.

Historical criticism
Both Buddha and Mahavira preached people to break the bonds of the caste system, and severely criticised untouchability, that was prevalent throughout the society. In 12th century, Basavanna, a philosopher and a social reformer, fought against caste system and preached that all humans are to be treated as equal regardless of caste and gender. Many bhakti period saints, including Meerabai, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Chaitanya, Dnyaneshwar, Eknath, Subramanya Bharathi, Ramanujan and Tukaram, rejected all caste-based discrimination and accepted disciples from all the castes. Many Hindu reformers such as Swami Vivekananda believe that there is no place for the caste system in Hinduism. The 15th century saint Ramananda accepted all castes, including untouchables, into his fold. Most of these saints subscribed to the Bhakti movements in Hinduism during the medieval period that rejected casteism. Nandanar, a low-caste Hindu cleric, also rejected casteism and accepted Dalits.[94]

Caste system in India Some other movements in Hinduism have also welcomed lower-castes into their fold, the earliest being the Bhakti movements of the medieval period. Dalit politics involved many reform movements; these arose primarily as a reaction to the advent of Christian missionaries in India and their attempts to convert Dalits, who were attracted to the prospect of escaping the caste system. In the 19th Century, the Brahmo Samaj under Raja Ram Mohan Roy actively campaigned against untouchability and casteism. The Arya Samaj founded by Swami Dayanand also renounced discrimination against Dalits. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and his disciple Swami Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission that participated in the emancipation of Dalits. Upper-caste Hindus such as Mannathu Padmanabhan participated in movements to abolish untouchability against Dalits; Padmanabhan opened his family temple to Dalits for worship. Narayana Guru, a pious Hindu and an authority on the Vedas, also criticized casteism and campaigned for the rights of lower-caste Hindus within the context of Hinduism.


Untouchables of Malabar, Kerala (1906)

The first upper-caste temple to openly welcome Dalits into their fold was the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, erstwhile Travancore in the year 1936; the move was spearheaded by social reformer Ayyankali. In 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore proclaimed that "outcastes should not be denied the consolations and the solace of the Hindu faith". Even today, the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple that first welcomed Dalits in the state of Kerala is revered by the Dalit Hindu community. The caste system has also been criticized by many Indian social reformers. Some reformers, such as Jyotirao Phule and Iyothee Thass, argued that the lower caste people were the original inhabitants of India, who had been conquered in the ancient past by "Brahmin invaders." Mahatma Gandhi coined the term Harijan, a euphemistic word for untouchable, literally meaning Sons of God. B. R. Ambedkar, born in Hindu Dalit community, was a heavy critic of the caste system. He pioneered the Dalit Buddhist movement in India, and asked his followers to leave Hinduism, and convert to Buddhism. India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, based on his own relationship with Dalit reformer. Ambedkar, supported the eradication of untouchability for the benefit of the Dalit community.

Contemporary criticism
Some activists consider the caste system a form of racial discrimination.[95] At the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in March 2001, participants condemned discrimination based on the caste system and tried to pass a resolution declaring caste as a basis for segregation and oppression a form of apartheid. However, no formal resolution was passed.[96] The alleged maltreatment of Dalits in India has been described by some authors as "India's hidden apartheid".[97][98] 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.[99] They also note that India has had a Dalit president, K.R. Narayanan, and argue that the practise had disappeared in urban public life.[100] According to William A. Haviland, there were allegations to the contrary by a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in India. He quotes from the Committee's March 2007 report the following:
Threshing/winnowing people in a Dalit village near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Caste system in India Although India's national constitution of 1950 sought to abolish caste discrimination and the practice of untouchability, the caste system remains deeply entrenched in Hindu culture and is still widespread throughout southern Asia, especially in rural India. In what has been called India's "hidden apartheid", entire villages in many Indian states remain completely segregated by caste. Representing about 15 percent of India's populationor some 160 million peoplethe widely scattered Dalits endure near complete social isolation, humiliation, and discrimination based exclusively on their birth status. Even a Dalit's shadow is believed to pollute the upper classes. They may not cross the line dividing their part of the village from that occupied by higher castes, drink water from public wells, or visit the same temples as the higher castes. Dalit children are still often made to sit in the back of classrooms.[101] Sociologists Kevin Reilly, Stephen Kaufman and Angela Bodino, while critical of casteism, conclude that modern India does not practice apartheid since there is no state-sanctioned discrimination.[102] 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." The Constitution of India places special emphasis on outlawing caste discrimination, especially the practice of untouchability.[103] 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.[104] In many parts of India, land is largely held by high-ranking property owners of the dominant castes, including the politically privileged other backward classes (OBCs), who economically exploit low-ranking landless labourers and poor artisans. 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.[105][106] 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 1990s and resultant opportunities for non-agricultural jobs have reduced poverty and increased per capita income for all segments of Indian society.[107] For specific evidence, Aiyar mentions the following Critics believe that the economic liberalization 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 yesterdays 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 laborers 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.[26] Matt Cherry claims that karma underpins the caste system, which traditionally determines the position and role of every member of Hindu society. Caste determines an individual's place in society, the work he or she may carry out, and who he or she may marry and meet. He states that Hindus believe that the karma of previous life will determine the caste an individual will be (re)born into.[108] Also see Karma in Hinduism.


Caste system in India On 29 March 2007, the Supreme Court of India, as an interim measure, stayed the law providing for 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes in educational institutions. This was done in response to a public interest litigation Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India. The Court held that the 1931 census could not be a determinative factor for identifying the OBCs for the purpose of providing reservation. The court also observed, "Reservation cannot be permanent and appear to perpetuate backwardness".[109] However, the Supreme Court later upheld the reservation.[110] Caste and race Allegations that caste amounts to race were addressed and rejected by B.R. Ambedkar, an advocate for Dalit rights and critic of untouchability. He 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",[111] Such allegations have also been rejected by Indian sociologists such as Andre Bteille, who writes that treating caste as a form of racism is "politically mischievous" and worse, "scientifically nonsensical" since there is no discernible difference in the racial characteristics between Brahmins and Scheduled Castes. He states, "Every social group cannot be regarded as a race simply because we want to protect it against prejudice and discrimination".[112] The Indian government also rejects the claims of equivalency between caste and racial discrimination, pointing out that the caste issues are essentially intra-racial and intra-cultural. Indian Attorney General Soli Sorabjee insisted that "[t]he only reason India wants caste discrimination kept off the agenda is that it will distract participants from the main topic: racism. Caste discrimination in India is undeniable but caste and race are entirely distinct".[95] Many scholars dispute the claim that casteism is akin to racism. Sociologist M. N. Srinivas has debated the question of rigidity in caste.[44][45] Others have applied theoretical models to explain mobility and flexibility in the caste system in India.[42] According to these scholars, groups of lower-caste individuals could seek to elevate the status of their caste by attempting to emulate the practices of higher castes. In her book Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia, Pakistani-American sociologist Ayesha Jalal writes, "As for Hinduism, the hierarchical principles of the Brahmanical social order have always been contested from within Hindu society, suggesting that equality has been and continues to be both valued and practiced."[113] Cahill 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.[14] The Spanish colonial rule posited, according to Cahill, that the character and quality of people varied according to their color, race and origin of ethnic types. For governance ease, the Spaniards developed a complicated breeding calculus to classify people into twenty one castas, or genizaros. Both the Spanish colonial state and the Church expected higher tax and proportionate tribute payments from those of darker color and lower socio-racial categories. Thus, 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. Haviland in his book Anthropology: The Human Challenge 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 intermarries 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 stratification during recent decades in United States of America, where, for instance, dark-skinned individuals culturally classified as colored or black may encounter social rules making it difficult if not impossible to befriend or marry someone with a lighter skin color.[101] Race and caste may have different anthropological origins, yet have the same anthropological result.


Caste system in India


Genetic analysis
There have been several DNA studies examining caste and tribal populations of India. These seek to discover, in part, if there are racial origins to the caste system. These studies have so far failed to achieve a consensus, possibly because of the developing nature of genotyping science and technologies.[114][115][116][117] A 2003 publication by T. Kivisild et al. concluded that the "Indian tribal and caste populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians and have received limited gene flow from external regions since the Holocene."[118] Another 2005 publication found the various Indian caste groups having similar genetic origins and having negligible genetic input from outside south Asia.[119] However, later studies conclude Indian population consists of at least two genetically divergent populations, possibly five.[117][114] An earlier 1995 report found that in the sample set studied, there was "no clear separation into three genetically distinct groups along caste lines", although "an inferred tree revealed some clustering according to caste affiliation".[120] A 2006 study by Ismail Thanseem et al. of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (India) concluded that the "lower caste groups might have originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers", and "the Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes."[121] The study indicated that the Indian caste system may have its roots long before the arrival of the Indo-Aryans; a rudimentary version of the caste system may have emerged with the shift towards cultivation and settlements, and the divisions may have become more well-defined and intensified with the arrival of Indo-Aryans.[122] A 2001 study found that "Analysis of these data demonstrated that the upper castes have a higher affinity to Europeans than to Asians, and the upper castes are significantly more similar to Europeans than are the lower castes" [123] In other words, members of higher castes are more closely related to Europeans than are the lower castes.[124][125] According to another 2005 report,[126] the population of the subcontinent can be divided into four morphological types: Caucasoids in the north, Mongoloids in the northeast, Australoids in the south and Negritos largely restricted to the Andaman Islands; however, these groups tend to overlap because of admixture. A 2006 publication reports genetic variations with phenotypic effects are seen between castes. For example, many members of the Arya Vaisya Chettiyar clan are fatally allergic to some anaesthetics such as Suxamethonium, also known as Scoline.[127] In 2008, another study reported genetic differentiation exists between Dravidian-speaking, Indo-European-speaking, Tibeto-Burman-speaking and Austro-Asiatic-speaking populations. The researchers find that while there are no clear geographical grouping of populations, ethnicity (tribal/nontribal) and language seem to be the major determinants of genetic affinities between the populations of India. The contemporary ethnic groups of India still exhibit high levels of genetic differentiation and substructuring.[128] A 2009 article published in Nature finds strong evidence for at least two ancient populations in India, genetically divergent, that are ancestral to most Indians today. One, the Ancestral North Indians, who are genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans, whereas the other, the Ancestral South Indians, who are genetically distinct from Ancestral North Indians and East Asians as they are from each other. The study observes that genetic markers suggest endogamy within population clusters was prevalent in various Indian kingdoms over time. The report includes a novel method to estimate ancestry without accurate ancestral populations. With this method, the scientists show that Ancestral North Indians ancestry ranges from 3971% in most Indian groups, and is higher in traditionally upper caste and Indo-European language speakers. Groups with only Ancestral South Indians ancestry may no longer exist in mainland India due to genetic pool mixing. However, the indigenous Andaman Islanders are unique in being Ancestral South Indians-related groups without Ancestral North Indians ancestry.[117]

Caste system in India A 2010 review claims that there are at least four population groups in diverse India.[114] Other than Ancestral North Indians and Ancestral South Indians, the population consists of Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Asiatic and Andamanese genetic pools suggesting human beings migrated into India from Africa, Eurasia, Tibet and southeast Asia. The review paper notes that studies so far were based on small sample sets for the diversity in India. With the availability of new genotyping technologies, future diversity studies encompassing a large number of populations, both tribals and castes, at the genome-wide level may help understand patterns of micro-evolution of populations in India. The caste system in India is possibly a complex intra-group and inter-group admix of interactions between various population groups.


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.[129] 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.[130]

Caste system in India from an international perspective

Many scholars have compared and contrasted the caste system in India from an international perspective. For example, Neisser notes that although the word caste is usually associated with India, India is not the only such society. Numerous other countries have caste-like minorities, who have been ostracized, discriminated, denied civil rights, forced to sit in the back of bus, asked to use designated toilets, considered impure or shunned in recent human history. Examples include Burakumin in Japan, Maoris in New Zealand, Jews in certain parts of Europe, Afro-Americans in the United States, Oriental Jews in Israel, Al-Akhdam of Yemen, Baekjeong of Korea, Midgan of Somalia, Osu in Nigeria and West Indians in Great Britain.[131][132][133][1][134][12] Ogbu suggests that, in international context, the emotional feeling and the result is the same, that anyone born into a lower caste or caste-like minority - a Burakumin in Japan, a minority in America, or Shudra in India - is to grow up with this feeling that one's life will eventually be restricted to a small and poorly rewarded set of social roles.[135] Berreman[1] is amongst those who use the term social stratification to discuss the caste system in India from an international perspective. He claims that regardless of its characteristics in a particular society, stratification is based upon three primary dimensions: class, status, and power, which are expressed respectively as wealth, prestige, and the ability to control the lives of people. Berreman suggests that, from an international perspective, social stratification systems present everywhere in the world share these crucial facts: the identity is regarded as being a consequence of birth or ancestry and therefore is immutable; the identity confers upon its possessor a degree of societally defined and affirmed worth which is regarded as intrinsic to the individual; and this inherent worth is evaluated relative to that of all others in the society; that is, those of different birth circumstances are inherently unequal and are avoided, while those of similar birth circumstances are innately equal and are sought. The issues and challenges with caste system in India have been, and are currently no different than religion, gender, ethnic or race-based social stratification and discrimination systems anywhere else in the world.[1]

Caste system in India


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Aggarwal, Patrap. Caste and Social Stratification Among Muslims in India. Manohar. 1978. Ambedkar, Bhimrao. Pakistan or the Partition of India. Thackers Publishers. Ansari, Ghaus. Muslim Caste in Uttar Pradesh: A Study of Culture Contact. Lucknow, 1960. Bayly, Susan. Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. Cambridge University Press. 1999. DOI:10.2277/0521264340. ISBN 978-0-521-26434-1. Michaels, Axel, Hinduism: Past and Present 188-97 (Princeton 2004) ISBN 0-691-08953-1. Srinivas, M. N. Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India. Oxford, 1952.

Further reading
Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Rachnawali (Selected works of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati), Prakashan Sansthan, Delhi, 2003. Baldev Upadhyaya, Kashi Ki Panditya Parampara, Sharda Sansthan, Varanasi, 1985. M.A. Sherring, Hindu Tribes and Castes as Reproduced in Benaras, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, First edition 1872, new edition 2008. Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya, Hindu Castes and Sects, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, first edition 1896, new edition 1995. E.A.H.Blunt, The Caste System of North India, first edition in 1931 by Oxford University Press, new edition by S.Chand Publishers, 1969. Christopher Alan Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen, and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 17701870, Cambridge University Press, 1983. Anand A. Yang, Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar, University of California Press, 1999. Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi Rachnawali, Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi. Bibha Jha's Ph.D thesis Bhumihar Brahmins: A Sociological Study submitted to the Patna University. Arvind Narayan Das, Agrarian movements in India : studies on 20th century Bihar (Library of Peasant Studies), Routledge, London, 1982. M. N. Srinivas, Social Change in Modern India, Orient Longman, Delhi, 1995. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi essays. Ambedkar, B.R. (1946). The Untouchables: Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables? (http:// who were they_why they became PART I.htm) as reprinted in Volume 7 of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches, published by Government of Maharashtra 1990; Complete Writings. Ambedkar, B.R. (1946) Who were the Shudras ( Read online ( were the Shudras Preface.htm)). Atal, Yogesh (1968) "The Changing Frontiers of Caste" Delhi, National Publishing House. Atal, Yogesh (2006) "Changing Indian Society" Chapter on Varna and Jati. Jaipur, Rawat Publications. Baines, Jervoise Athelstane (1893). General report on the Census of India, 1891, London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Blunt, E.A.H. (1931). The Caste System of Northern India, republished 1964, S. Chand, Delhi. Crooke, William (1896). Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, 4 vols. Duiker/Spielvogel. The Essential World History Vol I: to 1800. 2nd Edition 2005. Dumont, Louis. Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications. Complete English edition, revised. 540 p.1970, 1980 Series: (Nature of Human Society). Forrester, Duncan B., 'Indian Christians' Attitudes to Caste in the Nineteenth Century,' in Indian Church History Review 8, no. 2 (1974): 131-147.

Caste system in India Forrester, Duncan B., 'Christian Theology in a Hindu Context,' in South Asian Review 8, no. 4 (1975): 343-358. Forrester, Duncan B., 'Indian Christians' Attitudes to Caste in the Twentieth Century,' in Indian Church History Review 9, no. 1 (1975): 3-22. Forrester, Duncan B., Caste and Christianity: Attitudes and Policies on Caste of Anglo-Saxon Protestant Missions in India (London and Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Curzon Press and Humanities Press, 1980). Ghurye, G. S. (1961). Caste, Class and Occupation. Popular Book Depot, Bombay. Ghurye, G. S. (1969). Caste and Race in India, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai 1969 (1932). Jaffrelot, Christophe (2003). India's Silent Revolution: The Rise of the Lower Castes, C. Hurst & Co. Kane, Pandurang Vaman: History of Dharmasastra: (ancient and mediaeval, religious and civil law) Poona : Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 19621975. Lal, K. S. Growth of Scheduled Tribes and Castes in Medieval India (1995). Murray Milner, Jr. (1994). Status and Sacredness: A General Theory of Status Relations and an Analysis of Indian Culture, New York: Oxford University Press. Raj, Papia & Aditya Raj (2004) "Caste Variation in Reproductive Health of Women in Eastern Region of India: A Study Based on NFHS Data" Sociological Bulletin 53 (3): 326346. Ranganayakamma (2001). For the solution of the "Caste" question, Buddha is not enough, Ambedkar is not enough either, Marx is a must, Hyderabad : Sweet Home Publications. Russell, R.V. and R.B. Hira Lal (1916). The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India (http://www., 4 vols., London. Liz Stuart, in the Guardian Weekly, January 10, 2002


External links
Annihilation of Caste with a Reply to Mahatma Gandhi Part I ( 76/) & Part II ( by Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Articles on Caste by Koenraad Elst: Caste in India ( htm#16a), Buddhism and Caste (, Indian tribals and Caste (, Physical anthropology and Caste (, Etymology of Varna (http://koenraadelst. India's Caste System ( at Kamat's Potpourri Hidden Apartheid Caste Discrimination against India's "Untouchables" ( india0207/) The Castes, Culture, and Hedonism: An abstract of the ideology by: Nevill Kumar ( adc/

Article Sources and Contributors


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Caste system in India Source: Contributors: 04rolfs, 0XQ, A Ramachandran, AAA765, AMbroodEY, Aanand Pranav Sharma, Abecedare, Abhi madhani, Abhisek Upadhyay, Abhishek007p, Aborlan, Acather96, Aces393, Achowat, Addshore, Aelffin, Agoras, Ahivarn, Ahkond, Ajaypal2k, Ajraddatz, Akamad, Akohler, Alansohn, Albrozdude, Alethiophile, Alexius08, Allens, Allstarecho, Altetendekrabbe, Altzinn, Ambar, Ambedkaritebuddhist, Ambuj.Saxena, Ame1929, Amitprabhakar, Andreas Kaganov, Andrewrp, Anirudh777, Anna Frodesiak, Antandrus, Anwar saadat, AnwarInsaan, Apfelbaum82, ApostleVonColorado, Appuchochu, AreJay, Arjun01, Arjun024, Arjuna316, Arrow740, Arthena, Arx Fortis, AshLin, Ashley thomas80, Astute neophyte, AtticusX, Audriusa, Aupmanyav, Auric, Avedeus, Averreos-Avicenna, Axeman89, Ayyappa1, B00P, B9 hummingbird hovering, Bakasuprman, Balajiviswanathan, BalanceRestored, Barbara Shack, Barkhuni, Basawala, Bdesham, Beach drifter, Bejnar, Belovedfreak, Ben Ben, Benandorsqueaks, Benn, Bhagwad, BhaiSaab, Bharatveer, Bibi Saint-Pol, Big Adamsky, BigHairRef, Bigbrothersorder, Billymac00, Biscuittin, Bk bandopadhyay, Black-Velvet, Blackworm, Blanchardb, Bluetrue, Bobguy7, Bobo192, Bodhidharma7, Bolivian Unicyclist, Brandon vien, Brbigam, Brhaspati, Brian Sayrs, Browsercat, Bryan Derksen, Bryonmorrigan, Buddhafollower, Buddhipriya, By78, CALR, CJLL Wright, CJSF2323, Calliopejen1, Cameronjwest, Candle-ends, Canley, CardinalDan, Cardreader, Carolina wren, Cavenes, Centrx, Centurion777x, Chantoke, Charles Matthews, CharlesMartel, Chiranve, Christopher Parham, Chuunen Baka, Chvsanchez, Clarince63, Cliniic, Closedmouth, Cm3866, Colonies Chris, Crzysdrs, CuteHappyBrute, D6, DARTH SIDIOUS 2, DIGIwarez, DMacks, DVdm, DaGizza, DalitDynamite, Dangerous-Boy, Dante Alighieri, Danwillemjohnson, Dave Cohoe, Davenbelle, Davewho2, Dbachmann, Deepak D'Souza,, Deeptrivia, Dees900000, DerHexer, Devinish, Devmoz, Dexter73, Dfaljhgsfdj, Dhayfule, Dinkytown, Discospinster, Dishant55555, Doctorevil64, DogFog, Dolphin51, Dpotop, Drcwright, Drknockers44, Dsingsen, Dsvyas, Dureo, Durova, Dwaipayanc, Dwayne, Edward321, Eggishorn, Ekabhishek, El C, El elan, Embryomystic, Emilio Juanatey, Enipal1, Epbr123, Erebus555, Ericblair109, Erielhonan, Erikasker, Es330td, Escape Orbit, Esperant, Esrever, EvocativeIntrigue, Exact, Feinoha, Fences and windows, Fireworks, FolkTraditionalist, Foobaz, Funkendub, GRBerry, GSMR, Gaddev, Gainsbreak, Gaius Cornelius, Gazzarrr, Geg, George2001hi, Ghanadar galpa, Gilliam, Giraffedata, GlobeGores, Gnanapiti, Goethean, Goingoveredge, Gold1618, Goldenhawk 0, GraemeLeggett, Greice70, Guiltspark1012, Gujuguy, Gurch, Gwernol, HKelkar2, Hadlock, Hairchrm, Hairy Dude, Hajenso, HarlandQPitt, Harold f, Hassanfarooqi, Heavyweightlifter, Helikophis, Heracles31, Hiroe, Hjb26, Hkelkar, Holy Ganga, Hoo man, Hornplease, Horridge, Huangdi, IFaqeer, ILovePlankton, ISKapoor, IVenus, Ike9898, Ikonoblast, Imc, Imforu, Immunize, Improv, India Rising, India101, Indianstar, Indifference now, InverseHypercube, Ioeth, Iohannes Animosus, Iqbal123, Iridescent, Irishpunktom,, Itaqallah, Itzindian, Iwanttoeditthissh, J. Van Meter, J.delanoy, JHunterJ, JPDaigle, JSpung, Jacauley, JadeWolves, Jake Wartenberg, Jakieboy111, JamesBWatson, Jayron32, Jclemens, Jdpitts, Jeff3000, Jeff5102, Jeffq, Jenika1996, Jezhotwells, Jidanni, JimVC3, Jj137, Jlittlenz, Jmcc150, Jncraton, JoanneB, Johhnie, John of Reading, John.Knott, Johnhatten, Jonah22, Jordan Rothstein, Joshschr, Jossi, Joyson Prabhu, Juhko, Ka Faraq Gatri, Kanatonian, Karada, Karl Meier, Kathanar, Kayuki16, Kbthompson, Ke6jjj, Keegan, Keraunos, Keysvolume, KhatriNYC, Khazar, Kiki-or-rowan, Kingpin13, Kingpomba, Kingturtle, Kiteinthewind, Knewace, Konstable, Kprobst, Krsont, Kudpung, Kukukt007, Kuru, Kurubagowda, KuwarOnline, Kwamikagami, LRBurdak, Lateral thinker, Lbeuschlein, Le Anh-Huy, Lfh, LindsayH, Ling.Nut, LippyFrog, Literacola, Little Mountain 5, LittleOldMe, Littlebigguy, Livewireo, Lokayat, LordHarris, LostTemplar, Lothar of the Hill People, Lozeldafan, Lqstuart, Lucent474, Luna Santin, Luwilt, Lynn63, M3taphysical, MBisanz, Machaon, MajorActor, Malaiya, Malo, Mandarax, Mann jess, MarkSutton, Martin schnebele, Martocticvs, Matthew Yeager, MatthewEHarbowy, Mattitude87, Maurice45, Mayanow, Mboverload, McGeddon, Mentifisto, Mgiganteus1, Michael Devore, Mihirtheone, Mike Rosoft, Millermk90, Miniapolis, Miss Madeline, Mitsube, Mkrestin, Mlog1112, Moink, Moonriddengirl, Mosmas, Mr.Z-man.sock, MrGardiner, Mtcv, Muggle1982, Munchcrunchpanda, Muppety Kid, Mycroft.Holmes, N5iln, Nakon, Naniwako, NerdyScienceDude, NetRolller 3D, Neurolysis, Nevill Fernando, Nick88, NickCT, Nickshanks, Nielswik, NightMonkey, Nishkid64, Nobleeagle, NuclearWarfare, O, Oate238ca4ada42, Oblivious, Oleg Alexandrov, Olegwiki, Onef9day, Opus88888, Orphan Wiki, Osli73, OverSS, PAK Man, Paddles, Paiev, Palaeovia, PalakkappillyAchayan, Pan.avii, Para, Pardeepattri, Pecher, Pectore, Pernogr, PeterSymonds, Pgmetgud, Phil Bastian, Philip Trueman, PhnomPencil, Pilotguy, Pkulkarni, Plinkit, Poindexter Propellerhead, Pranathi, Prashantparikh, Prashobh Karunakaran, Precise, PrincessofLlyr, Priyanath, Profchakraborty iitkanpur, PseudoSudo, Puchiko, Pvnkmrksk, Pwarrior, Pwilt328, Quebec99, Quiddity, Qxz, Race911, Radon210, Ragib, Rahulbrnwl, Raj2004, Rajamankkan, Rajat Ghai, Rajkumar234, Ranveig, Ravinder121, Rayfield, Rd232, Rds865, Rdsmith4, Red1, Redrose64, Rehnn83, Reiun, Relata refero, Renegade division, Rich Farmbrough, Rjwilmsi, Roadahead, Rohitagarwal50, Romeosoul, Roserwilson, Roughandtough, Rumpelstiltskin223, RupertMillard, Ruy Pugliesi, Ryerrams, ST47, Saisharvanan, Samathawiki, Sameboat, Sandeeppan2007, Sathishmanickam, Saxin00, Scottfk, Secret, Selket, Sendrin, Seraphim, Sethuramrajesh65, SeventhMoon y, Sfahey, Sfvace, Shadeslayer1231, Shahab, Shalom Yechiel, Shamedinelson, Shanes,, Shardwing, Shaurya66, Shawishie, Shimeru, Shiva's Trident, Shreevatsa, Shrigley, Shubinator, Shyamsunder, Sibjeet, Siddhantbajoria, Siddharth srinivasan, Siddiqui, Signalhead, Sikh-history, SiobhanHansa, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, Sitush, Six2000, Skysmith, SlaveToTheWage, Slimline, Sluffs, Smsarmad, Som123, Soman, Some jerk on the Internet, Sortsav, Splash, Splitpeasoup, Spurtz, Sri0soma1, Srikeit, Steel, Steevo714, Stevertigo, Stratified, Struthious Bandersnatch, Stuartyeates, Sukhdev Singh Minhas, Sunil vasisht, Sunnyissunny, Surturz, Susfele, Sylent, Tangotango, Tarikur, Tariqabjotu, Taw, Tequendamia, Terry Longbaugh, TerryJ-Ho, The One Muse, The Thing That Should Not Be, The wind or breeze, The wub, TheDoctor10, TheObsidianFriar, Theglobetrotter, Thiseye, Thparkth, Thqwk, Thunderboltz, Tide rolls, Tidepride12, Tim eden, Timwi, Tirronan, Tirsen, Titoxd, Tobby72, Todd.wanchic, Tom harrison, Toon05, Top.Squark, Tripping Nambiar, Truthalwaystriumphs, Truthlover, Truthseeker81, TutterMouse, Tznkai, Ufwuct, Undead warrior, UnknownForEver, Unschool, Unused0029, Unusualvariety, User27091, Utcursch, VINU, Vamooom, Vanished user 05, Vary, Vasago, Vedanti, Velody, Ventolin, VernoWhitney, Vikramsingh, Vinay Jha, Vino s, Viridae, Viscious81, Vniop, Vpal, WALTHAM2, WSaindon, Weetoddid, WereSpielChequers, West.andrew.g, WhatamIdoing, Wiki Raja, Wiki-uk, WikiFlier, Wikidudeman, Wikipelli, Wikism, William Avery, Wimt, Woohookitty, Xezbeth, Xoid, Yadnyesh.pradhan, Yamaguchi , Yanamad, Yaris678, Yeditor, YellowMonkey, Youngwebprogrammer, ZZABAN124, Zack Holly Venturi, Zencv, Zepheus, Zocky, Zuggernaut, 1338 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

File:Gandhi, Harijan Work at Madras.jpg Source:,_Harijan_Work_at_Madras.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: User:Yann File:The King of Cochin riding on an Elephant, attended by his Nairs.jpg Source:,_attended_by_his_Nairs.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: Jan Huyghen van Linschoten File:Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India (51).jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: JovanCormac File:Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India (14).jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: JovanCormac File:Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India (67).jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: JovanCormac Image:Dharnaeithflag.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5 Contributors: Dwaipayanc File:Untouchables of Malabar Kerala Dravidian Australoid.png Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Ephert File:Madurai Dalit village 2.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Contributors: The Philosophy of Photography

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