The effects caste system has created in India and how it is assuming new identities and associational forms?

Updated November 10, 2022

The Effects Caste system has created in India is very regressive. It has created a hierarchical system or an organization where people have different ranks or positions, depending on how important they are. Individuals gain social status, powers, access to important social resources like education and jobs by being part of a certain caste group. There are different castes and sub-castes in India like Kshatriya or Vaishyas etc.

Expansion of Khap panchayat, Shout for caste-based reservations (as in Patel, Jat agitation), political parties choosing their candidates on the basis of caste equation (For example, Akali dal), the formation of political parties on caste basis like Bahujan Samaj Party and Coalition-politics (For example, Alliance between congress and JDS in Karnataka elections), Regional caste associations like Dalit Mandal, fragmented habits/colonies reside in urban areas, where Dalits, low caste people reside, giving a new identity and form to caste in India.

What are the reasons for its continuance, Rigidity, and Prevalence?

(i). During Medieval times and the 19th Century economic growth was slow and the population was increasing at a rapid speed which resulted in a scarcity of resources. This resulted in exclusive control of upper castes over important resources.

(ii). More emphasis on literature and religion law rather than modern education based on rationalism.

(iii). Lack of modern state which is officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion or state with rule of law, political and social rights to citizen.

(iv) Lagging in behind developing such social and physical infrastructure that could create employment, integration, collective mobilization. This would have contributed to upward social mobility, breaks the old social relations, and forms new identities.

Changes took place in Post Independent India

(i). Introduction of the new constitution, the idea of individual civil-rights, social legislations like “Right to Education”, Dowry, Sati act, New Industrial policy Resolutions, Representation of people’s act disallowing political parties to ask votes based on caste gives freedom for choice of occupation, mobility, migration, and participation.

(ii). Development of new social and educational infrastructure where every facility and public places are open for all irrespective of caste which promotes secularism.

(iii).  After independence, all public and private employers provide access to all on the basis of merit, not on social position (on caste basis).

Although these changes took place after independence, thereafter caste kept itself evolving, transforming, reviving, and making itself relevant in modern political and secular Indian Society despite disappearing.

Reasons for all its pervasiveness and transformation.

Reasons for all its pervasiveness and transformation is due to the effects caste system has created in Indian Society. Today, the caste system has evolved into a Political Pressure group (vote banks), Cooperative, educational to protect, promote their interest unlike the closet, controlled, power group of the earlier times.

The reasons for it are mentioned below.

(i). Caste is not completely disassociated in Indian secularism, everyone is recognized equal only, for their social upliftment. For example, Art 15, Art 16(4b), Art 17. Hence protecting their identity serves their socio-political interest.

(ii). Varying growth between regions, community, groups, and caste basis reservations has resulted in the sense of relative deprivation in excluded groups making caste mobilization, identification is more relevant.

(iii). Modern society is changing too fast and getting instrumental, bureaucratic, and uncertain that people want some emotional bonding to identify themselves which caste provides.  When rural workers migrate, they tend to look for people from their caste who can help them, strengthening caste grouping.

Such Effects caste system has created that caste institution today has proliferated into a various institution like educational institutions, political system, pressure groups, Grass-root community groups like self-help groups, etc. where they have changed their earlier role of stratification, control, closet community to economic mobilization for the purpose of development.

Way Forward 

People attach their caste identity with their names in India. Surnames like Aggarwal, Gowdas, Mani, etc. are attached with names to identify and ensure that society identifies their social positions all the while ensuring that they act secular in their public interaction. Lower castes still prefer to identify with the word Dalit than schedule caste to manifest their identity and assertion. Hence caste may not be eradicated rather will evolve to suit the times, making it an immortal Indian legacy. It is the effects caste system has created is a menace for the nation as well as for the society and it must be eradicated.

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