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The caste system in India is a social structure where individuals are classified into groups according to their genetics within firm organization of social stratification. In the olden days, caste was a phrase used to refer to individuals limited in their choice of work and the extent of socializing with other people. However, in the modern days the social rank is dependent on the caste of one’s birth rather than work (Dumont 2000).
The history of the caste system in India is dated about 3000 years ago. This structure was made for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of social order related to hierarchy. The misfortune of caste system is still common in some regions of India. Its unpleasant consequences are observed on social matters of marriage and kinship.
The caste structure is classified into different Varnas and Jatis. The class of Varnas comprise of Brahmans, the priestly and elite people; Vaishyas, planters and traders; Kshatriyas, the fighters and leaders; and Shudras, peasants and manual workers; In addition, the Untouchables are also under Varna. People under Varnas are grouped into jatis. The Jatis have typical regulations and traditions. In the beginning, all classes were treated the same and inter-caste marriages were allowed (Hutton 1998).
The caste system had influence on various issues. For example, a marriage between castes was not allowed. However, in the present India inter-caste marriage is permitted. The Indian government has legalized castes, mainly to determine the justified reservation through poll. The reservation system in India is wholly founded on quotas. Individuals classified as Scheduled Tribe, Scheduled Castes, and OBCs benefit from exceptional favors in learning bodies and places of work (Nesiah 1997).
In the present India, the rulers of India were determined to make India a self-ruled, socialist, and worldly nation. Basing on this policy there is a distinction between religion and government. Doing untouchability or isolating individuals because of their caste is an abomination of the law.
Together with this policy, the state permits positive isolation of the depressed groups in the country. The Indians are now not strict followers of the beliefs of the caste system. Basically, the Indians living in towns are more flexible with their traditions than those living in the countryside (Dumont 2000).
In the city various caste people mix with each other, however in the countryside there is inequality founded on castes and untouchability. Sometimes cruel clashes occur linked to caste pressures. Sometimes, the superior castes hit the inferior castes who are attempting to improve their lives. As a result, the inferior castes fight back. In the present India, the phrase caste is used to refer to the Jat and Varna. Caste was a term used by the British when they dominated India till 1947 (Radhakrishnan 2000).
The British who headed India made a record of the Indian communities and used names like castes and tribes to classify them. Tribe was used to refer to those people who lived in the bushes away from other people. It was also used to refer to those individuals not categorized under castes for instance, those who lived through thieving. The record used by the British, was applied by the Indian administration to make records of people permitted for constructive discrimination (Hutton 1998).
The superior castes in the Indian community were categorized as high classes while the inferior were classified as lower castes. The lower castes were classified into three groups. The first group was the Scheduled castes. It comprised of the untouchables. In the present India, untouchability rarely takes place.
The untouchables are known as Dalit, implying the depressed. Before the 1980s, they were known as Harijan referring to God’s children. This name originated from Mahatma Gandhi who wanted other communities to acknowledge the dalits and treat them fairly (Rana 2008).
The second group was called Scheduled Tribes. This group consisted of those people who rejected the caste system and decided to live in the bushes away from the society. The Scheduled were also referred to the Adivasi, implying the aboriginals. The third group known as the Backward Classes consisted of people from Sudra Varna and the untouchables who switched to other religions. This class also comprised of individuals who made a livelihood from unlawful acts (Himansu 1997).
The government had a positive intention when implementing the isolation policy. However, after the execution of the new rule, more problems emerged. The superior castes felt isolated by the state policy because of acknowledging the Backward Classes. As a result, many people of the high caste fought for the few ranks set for them.
On the other hand, the Backward Classes didn’t fight because they had many positions. In order to fill the differences between them, the Backward Class was given ranks though not qualified. In other cases, the reserved ranks remained unmanned due to less people from the lower class resulting to more pressure between the castes. Amongst the lower castes conflicts arose as a result of reservation matters (Nesiah 1997).
Original purpose and its progress
The reservation system was used and is still used to gratify the desires of some people and a tool for getting more votes during elections. This is made possible through the constitution which was initially planned for 15 years or execution of Mandal Commission. There are many features of reservation.
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However, there is resistance to the reservation system because the privileges are consumed by other people from the superior castes, while people in the lower class are still suffering (Dumont 2000). Therefore, the superior caste continues to benefit from the reservation system.
Impact on the productivity of the workforce
Work place discrimination due to caste systems has resulted to the marginalization of the inferior class in the Indian community. As a result, legal action has been initiated to protect the minority group from such discrimination.
In India, diversity is the foundation for prejudice and is the center of its legal reservation policies. Individuals belonging to the inferior class and the outcaste still encounter unfairness in all areas of their life, though this action of naming individuals as untouchables is forbidden according to the Indian constitution in 1950. India’s NGOs attempted for several years to solve the subject of castes systems. However, the state administration stated that the caste subject was not related to racial prejudice (Dumont 2000).
The 1950 bill of liberated India formed the world’s initial and ancient structure of helpful discrimination and affirmative action towards the inferior in the community. It protects India’s reservation laws demanding public firms to establish quotas for the three key recognized classes: Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Backward Classes.
Despite these policies, injustice against these castes is carried on and is still persistent in India, even presently. In addition, the prejudice is not restricted only to job matters but also every part of life from birth, education, job, housing, marriage, death, and even after death in burial processes especially in the countryside (Hutton 1998).
In 2001, a UN meeting on race in South Africa was held. It was here that the issue of caste systems was acknowledged as a serious matter similar to racism. The phrase Untouchables was substituted with Dalits meaning the depressed. It has been observed that dalit children are made to stay behind the classrooms in more than half of learning institutions. These kids are disgraced, bullied, beaten forcing many of them to abandon their studies. The dalit students are made to do tedious tasks such as sweeping and cleaning toilets (Borooah 2005).
The Untouchables were ordered to stay away from caste Hindus; even their shadow was seen as evil. If they broke this rule they were severely punished. In spite of the abolition of the term Untouchable and the defense laws under the 1950 constitution, prejudice and hostility towards the Untouchables prevails especially in the countryside. Regardless of the attempts of Mahatma and six decades of the constitutional abolition of biased actions, the social shame to be classified as a Dalit is powerful than before.
India’s affirmative action policies were known as reservations. They were formed in the 1950 constitution as a short-term corrective procedure of compensatory helpful discrimination to handle a long period of past inequalities and oppression. These policies were founded on rank and position emerging from the customary Hindu caste system.
The caste system affects capital structure, opportunity systems, and payment of salaries in India. It is a significant subject in the Indian community with the state’s offers for caste founded work quotas in private firms and a rise in reservation systems at places of higher education. It affects individual’s financial decisions (Hutton 1998).
Religious isolation is still practiced in the individual, professional, communal and financial lives of the community especially in the rural setting. Though the city people are not strict on their traditional beliefs, prejudice is still a serious matter in India. As a result of prejudice, the dalits lack proper education and good job opportunities.
The Untouchables find jobs in unclean and insecure places such as sewage cleaning. They work without protective garments such as protective shoes, masks, and gloves. Consequently, they are exposed to diseases such as tuberculosis, respiratory and liver diseases, or the risk of sinking into the excreta. In ship breaking, the dalits are given the work of smashing ships holding hazardous substances like asbestos, without any protective clothing (Nesiah 1997).
The dalits are also accountable for excavating graves, picking dead bodies to the funeral pyres, making fires and collecting ashes afterwards. They throw the carcasses of dead animals. As a result, India is confronted by the problems of competing in the global market with its work force still intensely separated by faith, traditional beliefs and castes (Ray and Mary 2005).
India’s reservations policies
The four main standards for the justification behind these laws are: reimbursement for unfair actions, safety for the inferior group in the community, enhancing equality in all aspects of life, and practicing social justice. Private firms do not adhere to the reservation laws and do not stand for affirmative action in spite of the strain and force from the government. For the functions of affirmative action, the government has a record of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled tribes and Other Backward Classes (Borooah 2005).
Conducted by Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful group of reactive opposition, India received its liberty from the British in 1947. The Constitution of India was designed under the head of Ambedkar, who was India’s supreme winner for the dalits. It was unconstitutional to give more rights to one caste than the other because the constitution prohibited that (Vohra 2001).
The constitution banned prejudice, and enhanced equal opportunities to all castes in jobs and abolished untouchability. Under this law, the children were given free and compulsory studies until they were 14 years of age. The educational and financial matters of the SCs and STs were also dealt with. The president was given the authority to form records of these people for the affirmative action goals of reservations (Paswan and Jaideva 2003).
Though there was a sensible agreement among Indians on forming reservations for the SCs and STs, there was heated opposition on the meaning, requirement, and degree of reservations for the communally and educationally inferior castes because the phrase has not been precisely defined in the constitution.
In 1990 when the Singh government initiated the Mandal Commission’s proposals for caste-based reservations of public works and learning centers, there was opposition all over the nation, by the superior caste student groups who were against the reservation system (Nesiah 1997).
Political, social, and economic consequences
The reservation procedures in India are at an early and very controversial level of who should be considered in the reservation policies. In addition, instead of including the castes into the Indian constitution, it has re-institutionalized the caste classes and powered caste uniqueness to both inferior and superior classes.
Reservations strengthen the preservation of one’s caste identity for fiscally stability. The 1992 Supreme Court declaration reserved work for the OBCs however restricted complete reservations to beyond 50 percent of the people (Hutton 1998).
The transformation has been political. This is done by eliminating the marginalization of Hindu caste-based professional differences into a wider political matter, above religious limits, and forming it as a way to get more votes. Matters to do with caste are of concern in the state and national politics of India. As a result, the percentage of Indians qualified for reservations has increased rapidly from freedom and persistent electoral pressure, on raising the reservation quotas (Yadav 2005).
Currently, fifty percent of the ranks given to learning and public works depend on the reservation laws. These stages of reservation are the highest found any place on the earth. For example, in the city of Karnataka, 90 percent of all people are qualified for reservations. In Tamil Nadu, 68 percent of the university positions are set aside (Maheshwari 1991).
In politics, organizations show their main followers in terms of class. The Congress party portrays equality of all castes. However, the Bharatiya Janata party is for the superior and Bahujan Samaj for the inferior group. However, there is rising hostility and resistance to reservations in India. Caste-based hostility over the rising quotas is common as upper caste students practice protests, destroying status and self- immolating in demonstrations (Basu 1996).
With the rapid economic freedom in India since the 1980s, foreign dealings have risen, price regulations have reduced, and many national businesses have been privatized, making market pressures more powerful. Many international firms have penetrated the Indian market and formed centers in India, incorporating foreign business practices in India.
Urbanization and immigration have made the caste system less important for professionalization in the cities. Though the names of people can establish their castes, less people follow it. This is because people are able to surpass their traditions so as to get good jobs in the urban centers. This experience is observed in the information technology firms and other managerial positions (Özbilgin and Syed 2010).
Studies have revealed that the differences between the average income of the superior and inferior castes was a result of caste-based prejudice. To solve the problems of financial differences, the SC and ST should be motivated through affirmative action in learning institutions and places of work.
The work market bias has brought about great distinction in wealth between the inferior and superior class of people over many years as a result of separated social systems. In order to improve personal capability, their entrance to social capital should be opened to abolish the lasting consequences of discrimination (Borooah 2005).
Reservations for women
Women are not completely guarded under the reservations laws because quotas of women are still being discussed in different Indian states. The caste system has made women encounter double prejudice as they are still suffering from mistreatment due to their inferior caste and female femininity. Moreover, women confront various difficulties because of the load of dowry (Keane 2007).
While the 1950 Constitution of liberal India allows same privileges for all Indians, Article 15 forbids segregation on the basis of gender, permitting unique treatment for women and children and equal job opportunities. However, women are not legally incorporated in all the reservation laws. India is the oldest nation with constitutional requirements formed in 1950, for the safety of the inferior communities. However, the success of India’s reservations policies is determined by the jury.
The Indian community is still isolated on how effective their state’s reservation laws have been handling initial discrimination and accomplishing its aims as addressed in the constitution. Meanwhile, the communities guarded by the reservation policies have increased dramatically so that they can benefit from these laws (Özbilgin and Syed 2010).
After India was liberated from the British rule, the reservation policies were designed as a short-term measure for the inferior groups. In the political and financial contribution in the country, the caste system would ultimately diminish. However, in the present India there is still no accord for the reservation of women and the OBCs though this subject is being discussed and the pressure on increasing reservations in private firms.
Though caste-based professionals are becoming less important in terms of finances in the modernized India, studies have revealed that caste systems are becoming more significant in nationwide and state politics. Political parties founded on supporting SC, ST, and OBC have been supported. However, the struggle between those for and against reservations still goes on (Dumont 2000).
As for women, India is still dominated by men. However, many firms are making advances of giving women equal opportunities as men. Corporations that have supported the affirmative action have enhanced job opportunities for women. Because of the reservation policies, there are various forces working on both the public and private firms in India. The reservation policies enable the minority groups to have equal opportunities of education, jobs, and government representation (Basu 1996).
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