The purpose of this paper is to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the caste system in South Asia. This includes a discussion on how the caste system affects people’s lives, economics and politics in these regions, and whether I think that there is any type of caste system in the western world.
An individual is regarded as belonging to the caste into which they were born. This has a huge bearing in a person’s life, as they remain within that caste until the time they die, which will impact their chances in life. If they are from a very low caste, this hierarchical system will keep them within a very low status. In India, regardless of the constitutional abolition of referring to certain outcaste low caste members as “untouchables,” as they are responsible for cleaning out sewers and other regions which are unsafe and highly detrimental to health, this practice continues. Moreover, this group comprise more than one-sixth of the country’s population, and they face virtually total stigmatization. It is like a form of apartheid, for example, the children of the Dalit caste are not allowed to sit near other children at school, and Dalit people are not permitted to use the same drinking cups, or go to the same temples as others of a higher rank are (NRW).
Conversely, those from an upper caste, the vaishyas, comprise traders, farmers and merchants, enjoy a good standing in Indian society, and have a good standard of living. People from different castes are not permitted to marry (BBC).
I think that there is a caste system in America, Europe, and other parts of the western world as most societies comprise different ethnic groups. In the US, these are referred to as: “‘demographic segments’ — there are demographic segments such as ‘inner city African Americans’, ‘rural Hispanics’, ‘suburban whites’, ‘Asian immigrants,’ etc” (Malhotra).
- BBC. “What is India’s Caste System?” 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35650616
- HRW. “The Caste System.” N.d., https://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/globalcaste/caste0801-03.htm
- Malhotra, Rajiv. “Is There An American Caste System?” 2001, http://rajivmalhotra.com/library/articles/american-caste-system-2/