There is a number of societies across the world where segregation is based on the social differences and the worldly affairs. Indian society makes no exception in this case and having a strong caste system. India has quite an old and historic background that can be traced to many thousand years ago. Their culture and society is characterized by the type of system that is based on segregation and discrimination. This kind of system is largely talked about for the mere reason of imbalance between the human beings that are born in different castes in their society. They are treated based on their castes affiliation .
The routes of these caste systems can be traced back thousands of years ago and different sources state different events that are affiliated to the rise of caste system, however, through this, it is evident that the caste system has been in place for a very long time. Veda, one of the ancient books, from the background states that Purush (Keane, pg 31) eliminated himself, and his body parts resulted in four segments which were later on divided into four major castes. The Bhagavad Gita linking to 200 B.C mentions the concept of caste system (Kapoor). Vedas can be traced to find the mention of caste systems which is as old as 1500 B.C. While studying other historical books, some scholars affiliate the caste systems to the arrival of Aryans around 1500 B.C (Gesteland and Gesteland).
The system of justice and metric of nobility is based on the variables of wealth, the possession of land, power, the kind of caste they are born in, and other worldly margins drawn out that are totally against the nature and a free society.
Reincarnation is a part of the Hindu belief system and, according to it, those who are part of the lower caste in their present life can avail the chance of getting to the top tier in upcoming life only if they remain good human beings and serve their objects well.
Caste System Units
The caste system is broadly divided into four tiers, the top tier entails the Brahmans who enjoy the privileges, have direct access to money, and are associated with the decision making aspects of the society. According to their belief, they were the first to be created by the creator; hence they claim superiority and practice dominance over the rest. There are further sub-divisions in the caste of Brahmans.
The next in line is the Kshatriyas who are affiliated with the ruling and serving body, namely the government entities and the soldiers. They are tagged with valor and physical strength and are, therefore, chosen for the purpose of protecting the society and the upper class. The word Kshatriya itself is derived from the Sanskrit language and is used for the powerful and ones with valor (Shetty).
The third in line are the Vaishyas while the lowest in rank are the Shudras who enjoy the least of privileges and are the working class whose aim is to serve the noblemen. They are mostly associated with the trading, agriculture, and lands which they look after. They usually constitute the serving class, the peasants, and other labors that are associated with the physical hardships and all those activities which the rest of the society members would feel shame in performing.
The lower rank caste members were not allowed to intermingle with the upper rank members; they could not eat together, and they were totally oppressed and were used as pure subjects. They enjoyed minimum opportunities in the education sector and various other social events which enabled grooming. They were termed as the untouchables, and social interaction of any kind was not in concept in their society. They were restricted to a section of society, they could not interact nor enter the places where the upper classes lived, a total contradiction to the natural concept of social ethics and existence.
Modern times and Caste Systems
With time, reforms and relaxations have been exhibited in the caste systems since their existence was totally contradictory with the ethical norms of society and a moderate society that would believe in equality and justice; therefore, these rules and their followings have been pushed aside to a certain degree, though they still have an influence and presence in larger parts of the country, and a dominant mind set does exist that believes in caste systems and has it largely in practice in their societies and surroundings (Shah).
The 20th century saw considerable awareness in the field of human rights and equality. For this purpose, a number of movements was started to spread the message of equality and justice in the society which was above the caste systems. Dalit movement (Paswan and Jaideva) was one of those which were aimed at promoting harmony amongst the different classes.
With the empowerment of youth and prevailing of education and modern ethical values, people have gradually started believing in the equal rights of human beings regardless of their castes, their background, and their color and occupation. Barely any positive feature can be deduced from this segregation, and it stood as hurdle in the progress of Indian society as a whole.
In comparison to the rural areas, the urban sector has made considerable progress and is thinking out of the box and accepting the individuals based on their achievements and abilities regardless of their social background and belonging. In modern times, the caste systems are not encouraged by the governments, and, even in the educated class, this thing is slighted and ignored. The modern educated class aims at mitigating and grounding of concept of caste system to a considerable degree.
The astounding fact of its existence is prevalent in the matters of marital arrangements, and priorities are given to those who belong to higher classes of the society. However, its existence can be termed as an obstacle in the progress of the society and the nation as a whole. Indian society and its individuals can achieve more if they are totally freed from the chains of caste system. Though in rural parts of the country, the role and rights of women are often violated, but still, there is a considerable improvement, and more is bound to come with the spreading of education.
A progressive step was taken in this regard in 1997 when India elected President from the Dalit community (Ferraro and Andreatta) which, according to the old caste system, is the lower tier in terms of the esteem and repute in their society.
In the modern Indian society, in larger parts of the country, there are no bars on any one to chose any profession they like. The entire aim has been to minimize the concept of caste system that brings about inequality and violation of human rights. Traces can be sketched back to certain areas and disciplines of the Indian society where these segregations and discriminations are visible but, as a whole, the governmental level approach and the educated people have separated themselves from the old caste system that was total paradox to the cultural, ethical, and moral equality. Many reforms have been implemented in the modern times which has reduced the impacts to considerable degree.