Caste Discrimination in India (Caste Oppression) | IAS Target IAS Target

Caste Discrimination in India

The caste system in India has its origins in ancient India, and was transformed by various ruling elites in medieval, early-modern, and modern India, especially the Mughal Empire and the British Raj. It is today the basis of educational and job reservations in India. The caste system consists of two different concepts, varna and jati, which may be regarded as different levels of analysis of this system. Caste discrimination affects an estimated 260 million people worldwide, the vast majority living in South Asia. It involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Caste systems divide people into unequal and hierarchical social groups. Those at the bottom are considered ‘lesser human beings’, ‘impure’ and ‘polluting’ to other caste groups.
They are known to be ‘untouchable’ and subjected to so-called ‘untouchability practices’ in both public and private spheres. ‘Untouchables’ – known in South Asia as Dalits – are often forcibly assigned the most dirty, menial and hazardous jobs, and many are subjected to forced and bonded labour. Due to exclusion practiced by both state and non-state actors, they have limited access to resources, services and development, keeping most Dalits in severe poverty.

Higher Caste too demanding reservation now

  • The resentment from the higher castes?
  • Surely the reservation system merely serves as a means of rectifying a major inequality in Indian society?

Well, the answer is complex. Higher caste children are finding it very difficult to get jobs that they previously would have gotten easily. SCs, Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backwards Classes (OBCs) applying for government positions don’t need to achieve as high grades as those from higher castes, therefore fostering feelings of frustration and resentment. Scholors and intellectuals suggested that Patels, Gurjar, Jats and other general category people are feeling the pinch of ‘neo-middle class syndrome’- while they aspire to achieve a better life, education remains expensive, as do the other trappings of middle class life such as a car and a house. Meanwhile, well-paid jobs remain scarce despite claims of an ‘economic miracle’ in the state.

Reservation system right to address Caste System in India

The reservation system cannot be dismissed as token gesture- it is clearly responding to a very real inequality. The people who benefit from the reservation system- including women, Muslims and the disabled- compromise more than two-thirds of the population of India. Patels, meanwhile, compromise only one-seventh of the population of Gujarat and are significantly overrepresented in the state’s economic and social elite, but still feel that they are being unfairly treated. Ambedkar had suggested some methods to eradicate the caste system in India.

He basically made three recommendations to eliminate the caste system:

  • Brahmins must denounce the Shastras
  • Inter-dining between castes
  • Inter-caste marriage

Steps to eliminate caste system in India

  • Education
    Education among the rural youth will help explore such people realise their potential. The challenge in this is that, when they come for education to urban areas, they are talked about their past and it hampers their growth and it results even in suicide. Needless to mention that transition from Rural to Urban lifestyle is not so easy. It’s only us that we need to welcome such people and it’s only by competition that one can gain success in life.
  • Keeping rituals inside your home and doing everything by yourself
  • Respect the culture of non-brahmins (including all forms of caste from all parts of India)
  • Promote reservation but not by using terms like Gen/OBC/SCs/STs but by using the word EEO (equal employment opportunity)
  • Inter caste marriage will not solve the problem instead we should try to change the mindset where still caste system exist.
  • Remove colonial mindset
    Understand one thing that colonial rulers capitalised on the divide of workers for their own benefit and they gained success and they have also created more problems within in India, that even today we are unable to solve it.
  • Encourage participation of Dalits in key temple festivals. Anyone if trained can be a Vedic Scholars and knowledge is not by birth but attained

The intense discrimination of the untouchables affects every area of their lives, including the basic human need of clean drinking water. To truly see the injustice of human trafficking come to an end we have to address the cultural vulnerabilities that the caste system imposes upon the people of India.