The Persistence of the Caste System in India despite its Illegality by Daanyal Agboatwalla

My presentation is about the Persistence of Caste in India despite its official illegality. Some of my main topics are, how and why the caste system is still there, how it affects modern Indian society on both ends of the spectrum, and who is protesting it.

The Castes are often represented as Brahma's body parts, as shown in this diagram.

How and Why the Caste system is still in place

One of the main reasons the caste system is still in place is because the Brahmins (highest caste) want to remain in power. This Caste system has worked for them for hundreds of years, so why would they want to stop using it now? In addition to this, the government is run by the Brahmins and Kshatriyas, so they will do their best to protect the system and keep it in place. Why not elect new people into government you ask? Well, most of the voters choose who they are going to vote for based on the candidate's Caste, so the powerful will still remain in power. In addition to this, the candidates promise that they will implement new laws to create more. rights for people of lower classes, but they never do.It's kind of a vicious cycle.

The seat of India's sovereign, Pranab Mukherjee. This building is called the Rashtrapati Bhavan. It is basically India's White House.

How does the Caste System affect society in India?

The Caste system affects society in India on both ends of the spectrum. The lower castes are treated like lesser people than the higher castes. They are given poor-earning and dangerous jobs such as cleaning toilets, sweeping the streets, tanning animal hides and handling the remains of the dead. These people are barely allowed to socially interact with members of the upper castes. For example, a Brahmin is not allowed to wash an untouchable's plate, because the plate is contaminated with the untouchable's saliva. People of other religions, such as Muslims, are often part of this caste, no matter how wealthy they are.

The middle class is certainly a step up from the lower caste, but it is still not an ideal lifestyle. They usually work as farmers and are able to provide food and shelter for their families unlike the Dalits, but still cannot easily become educated and move up on the social ladder. For many middle class people, competing with the Brahmins for university and job spots is a serious challenge. The Brahmins probably received better education and have wealth and power, so getting into universities is easy. On the other hand, the middle class people probably received the bare minimum education, and it will be a struggle to pay for tuition. The same goes for job applications. A Brahmin's application will be taken more seriously than a Shudra's. Many families cannot afford cars, and public transportation is rare in rural areas.

The upper class receives a lot of power, wealth and education. They have many more opportunities than other people so the success rate is very high. However, being a Brahmin has it's drawbacks too, even if there are fewer of them than in the other castes. If a Brahmin is seen interacting with someone in a lower class, he will probably be shunned by the other members of his caste.

A chart showing the most dangerous places to be a Dalit, because of crimes committed against them.

Who is protesting the system?

The upper classes are quite satisfied with the was the system works, so they are not protesting at all. However, as of late, the middle and lower classes are becoming fed up and are demanding a change in the system by means of riots and (not so peaceful) protests. Last August, middle-class group called the Patels in Gujarat, and India province. Hundreds of thousands of people came out into the streets for days to protest how unfair the system was to them and how the government should make it easier for them to get educated and get jobs. A very recent middle-class violent protest was backed by a group called the Jats. The Jats' protest was very similar to the Patels. They complained about not being able to afford cars, go to college or get good jobs.

In January, a huge Dalit protest will be held from Dadar to Azad Maidan. People of all, lower classes, including Muslims are being asked to join forces and protest against the atrocities being committed against them and people of their kind. They are sick and tired of all the injustices that have been done to them since Hinduism started and now they are going to fight back. Police and government forces are scared than many people are going to get hurt due to the size of the protests and the area that it spans.

A Dalit protest.
Thanks for listening!

Credits:

Created with images by emilyabrams - "Protest"

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