Caste and Karma
Understanding the people of India is a complex and rewarding endeavor. The country is rich with culture and home to people of varied ethnic groups and religions. India has a population of 1,201,193,422 as of the 2011 census and accounts for the second largest population in the world with 17.5% of the world’s population; China is first with 19.4% and USA is third with 4.5% (Http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-Prov-Results/data_files/india/final_ppt_2011_ chapter3.pdf, 2011.). The enormous population of India is home to at least 10,000 distinct languages (Das, 2006, p.2). “The people of India identify themselves through various markers. The major markers are male dress, female dress, male shawl, female shawl, turban, male headgear, female headgear, male ornaments, female ornaments, male body marking, female body marking, male tattooing, female tattooing, flag, and emblem” (Das, 2006, p.4). Recognizing the different tribes and regions associated with the particular style of dress or body markings provides a way for members of different regions and tribes to identify each other and provides clues as to the unique ethnic background associated by each of the markings. The markings also allow the people to identify and perpetuate a hierarchy known as a caste system. For the indigenous tribes of India, their ethnicity alone establishes their disadvantage. Many of the indigenous people of India are discriminated against based on their birth into a caste or their birth outside of the caste. “Caste membership, and hence social status, is hereditary (determined by birth) and not susceptible to alteration through personal effort” (Waughray, 2010, p.328). For those born as outcastes, or in modern terms as Dalit, life is difficult based on the misfortunate of being born. Traditionally, Dalits have been considered untouchable and have been resigned to performing the most undesirable share of societal work. They are given tasks that other castes are not willing...
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