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Class Has over Taken Caste in Contemporary India



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    Earlier in India social system of Hindus was predominantly based on the caste system which had arisen in ancient times. The caste system was one of the most important causes of social disunity. A large part of the population was considered by the people of higher castes as ‘untouchable’. The life of the Hindus was regulated by the Dharma Shastras which prescribed different rights and duties for different castes. There were several social evil customs in the Hindu society. The status of women in the society was very bad.

    The Muslims were also divided by caste, ethnic and sectarian differences. They were socially and economically backward. The Mughal Empire had declined after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. India was divided into a number of small and big states fighting with one other. In this situation the European trading companies, started interfering in the political affairs of the country. Taking advantage of the political, economic and social weaknesses of the Indian society; the Britishers captured the power in India.

    Caste has undergone significant change since independence, but it still involves hundreds of millions of people. In its preamble, India’s constitution forbids negative public discrimination on the basis of caste. However, caste ranking and caste-based interaction have occurred for centuries and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future, more in the countryside than in urban settings and more in the realms of kinship and marriage than in less personal interactions. Caste System In India

    In India, the caste system is a (controversially, discriminatory) system of division of labor and power in human society. It is a system of social stratification, and a basis for affirmative action. Historically, it defined communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jatis. The Jatis were grouped by the Brahminical texts under the four well-known caste categories : viz Brahmins, Kshtriyas, Vaishas, and Shudras. Certain people were excluded altogether, ostracized by all other castes and treated as untouchables.

    Although identified with Hinduism, caste systems have also been observed among other religions on the Indian subcontinent, including some groups of Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. The latter are similar to the caste system reported in the Igbo-Osu Christian community in Africa. Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime.

    Caste is neither unique to Hindu religion nor to India; caste systems have been observed in other parts of the world, for example, in the Muslim community of Yemen, Christian colonies of Spain, and Japan. The Indian government officially recognizes historically discriminated lowest castes of India such as Untouchables and Shudras under Scheduled Castes, and certain economically backward 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. By 1995, of all jobs in the Central Government service, 17. 2 percent of the jobs were held by Dalits. 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 democratically elected K. R. Narayanan, a Dalit, as the nation’s President.

    In the last 15 years, Indians 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 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. India’s overall economic growth has produced the fastest and most 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 advancements are likely to come from improvements in the supply of quality schools in rural and urban India, along with India’s economic growth. 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 by-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. A 2004 report ,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 (Offenses) Act (renamed in 1976, as the Protection of Civil Rights Act). It extended the reach of law, from intent to mandatory enforcement. The Scheduled Caste 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. 0 years. This program is similar to Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunities statutes in the United States. * India implemented a reservation system for its citizens from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; this program has been in use in India for over * 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. Classes In India In village India, where nearly 74 percent of the population resides, caste and class affiliations overlap.

    According to anthropologist, “Large landholders who employ hired labour are overwhelmingly from the upper castes, while the agricultural workers themselves come from the ranks of the lowest–predominantly Untouchable–castes. ” They also points out that household-labor-using proprietors come from the ranks of the middle agricultural castes. Distribution of other resources and access to political control follow the same pattern of caste-cum-class distinctions. Although this congruence is strong, there is a tendency for class formation to occur espite the importance of caste, especially in the cities, but also in rural areas. In an analysis of class formation in India, anthropologist points out that a three-level system of stratification is taking shape across rural India. The antropologist calls the three levels Forward Classes (higher castes), Backward Classes (middle and lower castes), and Harijans (very low castes). Members of these groups share common concerns because they stand in approximately the same relationship to land and production–that is, they are large-scale farmers, small-scale farmers, and landless laborers.

    Some of these groups are drawing together within regions across caste lines in order to work for political power and access to desirable resources. For example, since the late 1960s, some of the middle-ranking cultivating castes of northern India have increasingly cooperated in the political arena in order to advance their common agrarian and market-oriented interests. Their efforts have been spurred by competition with higher-caste landed elites. In cities other groups have vested interests that crosscut caste boundaries, suggesting the possibility of forming classes in the future.

    These groups include prosperous industrialists and entrepreneurs, who have made successful efforts to push the central government toward a probusiness stance; bureaucrats, who depend upon higher education rather than land to preserve their positions as civil servants; political officeholders, who enjoy good salaries and perquisites of all kinds; and the military, who constitute one of the most powerful armed forces in the developing world. Economically far below such groups are members of the menial underclass, which is taking shape in both villages and urban areas.

    As the privileged elites move ahead, low-ranking menial workers remain economically insecure. Were they to join together to mobilize politically across lines of class and religion in recognition of their common interests, Gould observes, they might find power in their sheer numbers. India’s rapidly expanding economy has provided the basis for a fundamental change–the emergence of what eminent journalist Suman Dubey calls a “new vanguard” increasingly dictating India’s political and economic direction. This group is India’s new middle class–mobile, driven, consumer-oriented, and, to some extent, forward-looking.

    Hard to define precisely, it is not a single stratum of society, but straddles town and countryside, making its voice heard everywhere. It encompasses prosperous farmers, white-collar workers, business people, military personnel, and myriad others, all actively working toward a prosperous life. Ownership of cars, televisions, and other consumer goods, reasonable earnings, substantial savings, and educated children (often fluent in English) typify this diverse group. Many have ties to kinsmen living abroad who have done very well.

    The new middle class is booming, at least partially in response to a doubling of the salaries of some 4 million central government employees in 1986, followed by similar increases for state and district officers. Unprecedented liberalization and opening up of the economy in the 1980s and 1990s have been part of the picture. There is no single set of criteria defining the middle class, and estimates of its numbers vary widely. The mid-range of figures presented in a 1992 survey article by analyst Suman Dubey is approximately 150 to 175 million–some 20 percent of the population–although other observers suggest alternative figures.

    The middle class appears to be increasing rapidly. Once primarily urban and largely Hindu, the phenomenon of the consuming middle class is burgeoning among Muslims and prosperous villagers as well. According to V. A. Pai Panandikar, director of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, cited by Dubey, by the end of the twentieth century 30 percent–some 300 million–of India’s population will be middle class. The middle class is bracketed on either side by the upper and lower echelons.

    Members of the upper class–around 1 percent of the population–are owners of large properties, members of exclusive clubs, and vacationers in foreign lands, and include industrialists, former maharajas, and top executives. Below the middle class is perhaps a third of the population–ordinary farmers, trades people, artisans, and workers. At the bottom of the economic scale are the poor–estimated at 320 million, some 45 percent of the population in 1988–who live in inadequate homes without adequate food, work for pittances, have undereducated and often sickly children, and are the victims of numerous social inequities.

    Class Has Not Over Taken Caste in India A principle difference between class and caste is that class in open for all and social mobility is possible. In the caste system the vertical mobility is not possible. Caste in India has religious background and everybody tries to fulfill the caste duties, but in class system of social stratification religion has place. There the physical and mental qualities are more important. Caste and Class jointly determine the position of an individual in social strain. Particularly in rural communities where caste system has maintained its rigidity.

    It forms the basic for economic and special life. In a single village there may be as many as 24 castes and of these are interdependent. Even in the urban society a constant tendency to make caste distinction is observed in the upper and middle classes. Thus the castes have maintained their importance in class system of social stratification. According To My Analysis I am against this point that status has overtaken caste in india because caste still matter a lot in india ,as there is alot of reservation in our country . we all can see that reservation is present in employment ,education etc.

    Although we are in a modern era but still people are recoqnised by their caste. We all carry our caste in our surnames ,so caste is that thing which can never be eradicated from our society . although people are earning lakhs of money but they still think according to their caste. “I find it strange that the two are clubbed together! ” The class system on the other hand owes its origins to imperialism and capitalism. A society where money rules over everything. The symptoms of such a system are servants, prostitutes, beggars amongst many others. ” There is no caste in blood. ” – Edwin Arnold

    Class Has over Taken Caste in Contemporary India. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

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