India Caste System

Topics: Caste, Social class, United States Pages: 4 (1317 words) Published: March 24, 2012
Divisions in India Society: The Caste System
There are different theories about the establishment of Caste system. There are religious, mystical, biological and socio-historical theories about the Caste system. The word “caste” is derived from a Portuguese word “casta” which means “bread” or “lineage” (Encarta). A Class vs. a Caste System In any country’s history, a high stage of social development is reached only when the main social divisions are formed. “The caste system penetrates the Hindu society to a level unknown elsewhere. It plays some part in other civilizations but in India it has invaded the whole. It is in this sense that we may speak of the caste system as a phenomenon peculiar to India” (Pocock 27). The class system of the United States and the caste system of India share common characteristics but, at the same time, they different in many ways. A caste system rigidly restricted occupationally, socially, members may not marry outside the caste. Caste system devalues and discriminates people according to their genetic and/or social background. There are said to be four major traits typical of caste systems. Included are the following: membership into the caste is hereditary; marriage within the caste is mandatory; mobility is nearly impossible; occupation is strongly related to caste (Hurst, 1998). Conversely, a class system is a society based upon different groups. These groups are composed of people whose strata’s are often related to occupational or property divisions. They are composed of a set of consistent and stable patterns that persist through time. In the United States it is based upon a classification of individuals who are grouped into power levels which “represent the structural inequality in the allocation of rewards, privileges, and resources.” These levels are often referred to as the “upper,” “middle.” And “lower” classes. They largely determine life chances in relating directly to the incomes and educational composition of each...
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