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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Caste System is alive in India * 73

Caste has been the bugbear of Hindu society. Also called the Varna system, it consists of dividing Hindus as per their profession. The caste system flows from the Laws of Manu as codified in the Manusmriti. These laws were framed at least 3000 years back and have survived the vicissitudes of history. The castes are further classified as higher castes and lower castes and are water tight compartments. Many reformers have spoken against the caste system, but there seems to be no conviction even among men who supposedly opposed the caste system like Gandhi. This man (Gandhi) is an enigma as at one stage he supported the Varna (caste system) and in later writings was of the view that caste system needs to be diluted. He was never a vociferous opponent of the caste system and that includes Hindu reformers like Swami Vivekananda.
The net result is that the caste system continues to dog India and at every stage, one is confronted by this division of society. Many lower castes have converted to Islam and Christianity to escape the clutches of the caste system. But in India, these lower castes despite converting have not been completely absorbed in either Islam or Christianity and still have the old tag accompanying them.
The situation in the 21st century is bad and the recent suicide by a student of the University of Hyderabad is a pointer. He was a lower caste and felt ostracized and just committed suicide. One wonders when India will get out of its caste conundrum