- Caste is a specter that continues to haunt the body politi...
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.