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Caste system in India

India is a country of unity in diversity. However, modernization is evident and social transformation has brought in its wake, problems and conflicts – features of the present day Indian society. Caste System or the division of society into castes is a feature peculiar to our country. The role of a governmental structure in India began with the development of the Caste System. Caste system is a social structure which ranks people into various groups based on heredity.

This caste system was very well organized in the ancient period and it was so simple that there was no problem with orthodoxy. The social and political structure was such that the question of untouchability did not arise. Thus, an efficient system led to peace, goodwill and brotherhood, which held sway over other minor problems and there was no economic pressure.

The ancient Aryans started the system. The origin of caste system in India is attributed to the functional division of labor. The population was divided into classes on the basis of functions or occupations of particular families and groups. However, in course of time, these divisions between various sections of the society became very rigid.

The Brahmans: They were the literate group, presumed to have originated from the mouth of God and they were alone empowered to study the Vedas and worships Gods. The Kshatriyas: They were supposed to be born from the arms of God. They were entrusted the job of protecting the society from marauders. They were born to be rulers and fighters.

The Vaishyas: They originated from the Almighty's legs and they were assigned the jobs of doing business. Together with trading, they were also expected to do farming and agriculture. Basically it came down to feeding the society.

The Sudras: They were supposed to have emanated from the feet of God, so their duty was to serve the society, which really meant, serving the other three classes. Beyond the four classes, came the “untouchables”, “out-castes”, or what later came to be designated "depressed classes" and "scheduled castes".

Gradually, one caste was again divided into sub-castes. Today, much social tension is created due to the ugly feeling of caste system.

The purpose of dividing the society into four castes was to remove chaos and indiscipline from it. When all the castes did their respective works, harmony was established in society. But this harmony did not last long. The caste system became very rigid in later period. The feeling of inferiority and superiority arose. The people belonging to high caste hated the people of low caste.

Caste system has many merits and demerits. Caste represents a harmonious division of society based mainly on division of labour and occupation. Promotes the spirit of cooperation and fellow-feeling at least within its range. It helps the poor, the needy and strengthens group sentiment and is a source of social stability. Preserves the racial purity by prohibiting inter-marriages and by imposing endogamy on its members.

On the other side it has prevented the proper growth of democracy. It has hindered mobility. Caste System creates obstacles to the unity of the country. The lower caste people in the society cannot express their dissatisfaction as they are deprived of all privileges of the society. As a result of this social unity is disintegrated. Caste system does not allow changes to be introduced in society. Under the caste system people are very conservative and traditional. They believe in customs and traditions and they do not accept changes needed for social progress,

Caste System is not a fair system in the present scenario. It is negatively effecting the Indian society. The system has become totally irrelevant today. Under present conditions the rigidity of castes caused much oppression and injustice to the weaker sections of society. The system has become loose and totally disorganized and should be relegated to the status of a relic from a by-gone age, which cannot be preserved anymore. We can conclude that the caste system has a negative impact on Indian society.

-Shrija Kumar

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