Explain the nature of relationship between caste and class in India.

QUESTION Caste System Definition OR  -Explain the nature of relationship between caste and class in India.

Ans. Dynamic Relationship: From time to time social system changes in social, economic and political spheres. Caste system is hierarchically placed.

Caste System Definition – According to Hindu tradition the caste system has four varnas:

(a) Brahmin

(b) Kshatriya

(c) Vaishya

(d) Shudra.

Brahmins enjoy the highest status and Shudras occupy low status. Untouchability prevails and the value of individual is regarded from birth in which he or she has taken birth. As the time went on it was observed upper castes (Brahmins) try to maintain their status. Middle and lower castes tried to change their status. Political authority helps in improving and enjoying higher social status in caste hierarchy. Sometimes it has been observed Shudras and antiShudras having occupying position of power have acquired status of Kshatriya, without following the path of Sanskritisation. Before backward class does not feel good in expressing themselves as backward class, they were in  fear if they express someone or society or association themselves it would hamper their development. When the states have provided certain benefits to them they (backward class) have realised they could improve their status by improving their economic condition. Traditionally inter-caste marriages were forbidden and Brahmins or higher class caste does not accept food cooked by lower class. These rules had really weakened the society, but today the situation had changed. Inter-caste marriage has increased.

Caste and Class According to Hindu tradition the caste system had its origin to the four varnas:

(a) Brahmin, who derived from the mouth of the deity and they were declared the chief.

(b) Kshatriya, created from deity’s arm and were declared vigorous.

(c) Vaishya, created from deity’s stomach and meant to be businessmen, traders and peasants.

(d) Shudra, was born from his feet and deemed to be the service communities or to be the transporters of others.

M.N. Srinivas observes that the community of village consisted of hierarchical groups. Each group has its own duties, rights and privileges. The upper caste enjoys greater privileges and functions in comparison of lower caste. In late seventies it was observed that 59 per cent of Mudaliyars (upper castes) and 41 per cent of Palli (untouchable castes)–no mudaliyar is engaged in agricultural labour and 41 per cent of Palli earn their livelihood as farm labourers. There are 4635 communities and castes are observed in the project on “People of India”. The higher caste people enjoy a higher position in the regional socio-ritual hierarchy and they have control over land and other resources. While on the other hand the lower caste have less control over economic resources. They were considered as ritually unclean and maximum number of lower caste are very poor.

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