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Gandhi visiting Madras (now Chennai) in 1933 on an India-wide tour for Harijan causes. His speeches during such tours discussed the discriminated castes of India and appealed for the eradication of untouchability. The caste system in India is a system of social stratification, social restriction and a basis for affirmative action. Historically, it defined communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jātis. The Jātis were grouped by the Brahminical texts under the four well-known caste categories (the varnas): viz Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Certain people were excluded altogether, ostracized by all other castes and treated as untouchables. Although identified with Hinduism, caste systems have also been observed among other religions on the Indian subcontinent, including some groups of Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. The latter are similar to the caste system reported in the Igbo-Osu Christian community in Africa. Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime. Caste is neither unique to Hindu religion nor to India; caste systems have been observed in other parts of the world, for example, in the Muslim community of Yemen, Christian colonies of Spain, and the Buddhist community of Japan. The Indian government officially recognizes historically discriminated lowest castes of India such as Untouchables and Shudras under Scheduled Castes, and certain economically backward castes as Other Backward Castes. The Scheduled Castes are sometimes referred to as Dalit in contemporary literature. In 2001, the proportion of Dalit...
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