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Caste is a specter that continues to haunt the body politic of postcolonial India


Societies throughout the world contain elements of classification or segregation among the members of society. The basis on which this segregation comes into play varies among different regions and cultures. The origin of classes among members of society may be attributed to different reasons present in that society, but it is an established fact that such segregation among society members into groups or castes has often lead to inequality. The Hindu faith describes these inequalities in terms of 'purity' and 'pollution', and associates them with divine natural order. Exploitation of masses on religious grounds is a common happening in Asian continent. In the Indian institution of caste, inequality has been so deeply engraved that no such examples exists throughout the world. There have been a number of attempts by many people to get rid of the evil of the caste system of India, but none has survived or succeeded. Despite the bitter criticism that this caste system receives, it has managed to survive and affect the lives of millions of Indians till this day.  


The history of the Indian constitution of caste can be traced back to 1500BC. This was the time when the religious texts of Hinduism were written. The Aryans brought with them a new social system for this area, which bonded and segregated the individuals of this society in such a way that equality among individuals was totally lost. Even after the passage of centuries, the Indian society is so tightly bound with the caste system, that its impacts are well manifested in their social picture. The four basic castes and also a fifth one which evolved as Hinduism evolved over time, are present till this day. Despite being a minor fraction of the population, the higher castes hold the most powerful positions in the society, and so are able to influence the interests of lower castes according to their own wills. The effects of their power are evident in all the aspects of social life. The politics of the country is in the hands of these powerful castes. Those who intend to attain political power exploit the interests of lower castes, and in doing so, politicians make promises about improving the conditions of the lower caste Dalits; promises which are never fulfilled. On some occasions, some steps have been taken by the Indian government in the form of land reforms or reserved jobs for the lower castes, but the fierce resistance by the members of higher castes has always prevented the members of lower castes to avail what is being offered by the government. The consequence is that, the Dalits are and will continue to suffer from the inequalities that their religion and in turn society and its politics is offering them.  

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