Topics: Caste, India, Caste system in India Pages: 6 (1554 words) Published: May 17, 2013
Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution.[1][2] Its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of India's Hindu society into rigid social groups, with roots in India's ancient history and persisting until today. However, the economic significance of the caste system in India has been declining as a result of urbanization and affirmative action programs. A subject of much scholarship by sociologists and anthropologists, the Hindu caste system is sometimes used as an analogical basis for the study of caste-like social divisions existing outside Hinduism and India.

According to UNICEF and Human Rights Watch, caste discrimination affects an estimated 250 million people worldwide.[3][4] Contents

1 Etymology
2 Caste system of India
3 Caste in rest of South Asia
3.1 Nepal
3.2 Pakistan
3.3 Sri Lanka
4 Caste-like stratification outside South Asia
4.1 South-east Asia
4.1.1 Myanmar
4.1.2 Indonesia
4.2 East Asia
4.2.1 Japan
4.3 West Asia
4.3.1 Yemen
4.4 Africa
4.4.1 West Africa
4.4.2 Central Africa
4.4.3 East Africa
4.5 Europe
4.5.1 France and Spain
5 See also
6 Notes
7 Secondary sources
8 Scholarly tertiary sources
9 Further reading
10 External links


The English word "caste" derives from the Spanish and Portuguese casta, which the Oxford English Dictionary quotes John Minsheu's Spanish dictionary (1599) to mean, "race, lineage, or breed."[5] When the Spanish colonized the New World, they used the word to mean a "clan or lineage." However, it was the Portuguese who employed casta in the primary modern sense when they applied it to the many in-marrying hereditary Hindu social groups they encountered upon their arrival in India in 1498.[5][6] The use of the spelling "caste," with this latter meaning, is first attested to in English in 1613.[5] Caste system of India

[icon] This section requires expansion. (October 2012)
Main articles: Caste system in India and History of the Indian caste system An early 20th century "ethnographic" photograph of men and women from the Kurmi caste—famed as cultivators and market gardeners[7]—sowing their field.[8]

Historically, the caste system in India consisted of four well-known categories (the Varnas):[9]

Brahmin (priests)
Kshatriyas (warriors)
Vaishyas (traders)
Shudras (workmen)

The fifth one (Refer to next paragraph)

Dalits ( tasks related to death)

Some people were left out from these four caste classifications, and were called Panchama or Dalits (literally, the fifth). Regarded as outcastes or the untouchables, these were shunned and ostracized. The varnas themselves have been further subdivided into thousands of jatis.[10]

Ancient Indian text on laws, such as Manusmṛti suggest a caste system was part of Indian society. These laws in ancient India discriminated between castes. For example, the laws of Manusmṛti declare sexual relationships between men and women of different castes as illegal.[11]

Upon independence from the British rule, the Indian Constitution listed 1,108 castes across the country as Scheduled Castes in 1950, for affirmative action.[12] The Scheduled Castes are sometimes called as Dalit in contemporary literature.[13] In 2001, the proportion of Dalit population was 16.2 percent of India's total population.[14] Caste in rest of South Asia

Main articles: Nepalese caste system and Ethnicity and caste in Nepal

The Nepalese caste system resembles that of the Indian Jāti system with numerous Jāti divisions with a Varna system superimposed for a rough...
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