Essay on Caste System in India
Free 780 words essay on Caste System in India for school and college students.
Origin Of caste system-
India’s caste is one of the oldest forms of social stratification where the society is divided into a rigid hierarchical group on the basis of their karma and dharma. A manuscript is considered to be the most important and authoritative source which puts lights and justifies the caste system as the basis of the order in the society.
The unbreachable divisions-
The caste system is believed to have been originated from the mythological god lord Brahma and is divided into four groups- Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Brahmins who are mainly teachers and intellectuals are looked upon as the most superior form amongst all and supposedly to have come from Brahma’s head. The second in the hierarchy are kshatriyas comprising mainly warriors and rulers and believed to have originated from Brahmas arms. Vaishyas who are traders or farmers holds the third slot and are created from the thighs. Lastly, Shudras are allocated all the menial work as they are believed to have come from Brahma’s feet. These groups have further been subdivided into thousands of sub-castes based on their specific occupation. Dalits or untouchables are considered to be the lowest caste and are excluded from the Hindu society. From blur division lines of in Harappa civilizations to concrete divisions in Gupta age, the caste cleavage cemented with time.
This complex model of caste hierarchy is rigid and unmovable and once born in any one of these groups one is entitled to spend rest of the life in that caste. For centuries rural colonies have been arranged in a way segregating upper caste from the lower caste. Each caste and sub-caste have their set of rules and their violation leads to expulsion and ostracism.
The deep-rooted religious proclivities and urge for spiritual uplift had induced people to look for simpler and effective ways to achieve spiritual goals which made people adopt much simpler classless religion such as Buddhism and other innovative ways like Bhakti movement which preached love and devotion and challenged the caste system through bhakti songs.
In the modern times during British era, many social reformers emerged playing a vital role in transforming the society and abolishing various social evils plaguing the society. Gandhiji the crusader in abolishing untouchability visited the homes of Dalits in various parts of the country and accorded them with the name ‘Harijan’- people of God as they are responsible for cleaning the environment. Gandhiji was against the communal award offered by Ramsay McDonald as it would disintegrate the society and considered Dalit as an integral part of Hindu society. B.R Ambedkar a towering figure in Indian political history is a pioneer of Dalit founded Bahishkrit Hitkarni Sabha (Depressed Class Institute) which worked relentlessly for the upliftment of Dalits.
Constitution and the caste:
- Various legal measures to protect the deprived sections of society have been incorporated in the Constitution of India that advocates
- equality –art 14
- prohibits discrimination –art 15 on basis of religion, caste, sex, place of birth
- abolishes untouchability – Art 17
- Protection of civil rights act-1955, SC/ST (prevention of atrocities) Act -1989
- ST and other traditional forest dwellers act -2006
In order to provide a level playing field to the traditionally disadvantaged group, Indian constitution provides quota in various sectors. The quota has been further extended to the backward class which falls between upper and lower caste in order to spread the benefits of development in every section and makes the society equal and just. But in order to correct the historical injustices the present system of justice is being questioned as seen in ‘jat’ and ‘Patidar’ agitation. Reservation once a boon now becoming a bane as it is used as a tool to reap political gains by widening the fissures between lower and upper caste.
With today’s secular education system there has been a convergence in the intellectual levels of upper and lower caste. This convergence facilitates economic mobility which is essential for development. The proportion of inter-caste marriage is higher amongst educated people.
As India celebrates 70 years of independence it is yet to be freed from the shackles of casteism which is deeply rooted in the society. Change is gradual and will come only through sensitization and awareness of the atrocities inflicted upon the disadvantaged sections. The recent proclamation made by the Maharashtra government. To criminalize social boycott based on caste is the step-in rights direction and could be replicated by other states too. This could end caste-based violence and curb self-proclaimed courts of caste lords. The beautiful idea of ‘Vasudev Kutumbhkam’ – world is one family preached by India to the world should be adopted in letter and spirit by every Indian citizen to free the country from historical evils.