Discuss how the structure of caste system in India has undergone a paradoxical change over last few decades.

Caste system or the “Chaturvarna System” has been an integral element of Indian Society since ancient times.

Basic features of traditional caste structure:

  • Strict 4-fold division of occupations, viz. Brahmins-religious rituals, Shudras-Menial jobs.
  • Segregation of living space on the basis of caste.
  • Discrimination on the basis of caste – untouchability.

Changes over last few decades:

  • Rapid increase in education & its penetration has diluted caste-based occupational division.
  • Reservation in jobs & educational have made every occupation multi-caste & multi-lingual.
  • Rapid urbanization & globalization has diluted caste-based segregation.
  • MNC offices & urban apartments – home to co-existence of all castes.
  • Economic & social upliftment has raised the status of erstwhile so called lower castes.

Remnants of caste system:

  • Still occupations like manual scavenging, are done predominantly by “lower caste” people.
  • Discrimination still reported under prohibition of untouchability act.

Thus, the caste system has changed in a more positive way but still a number of issue are remaining that needs to be addressed.


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