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India Table of Contents Varna, Caste, and Other Divisions Although many other nations are characterized by social inequality, perhaps nowhere else in the world has inequality been so elaborately constructed as in the Indian institution of caste. Caste has long existed in India, but in the modern period it has been severely criticized by both Indian and foreign observers.
Although some educated Indians tell non-Indians that caste has been abolished or that "no one pays attention to caste anymore," such statements do not reflect reality. Caste has undergone significant change since independence, but it still involves hundreds of millions of people.
In its preamble, India's constitution forbids negative public discrimination on the basis of caste. However, caste ranking and caste-based interaction have occurred for centuries and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future, more in the countryside than in urban settings and more in the realms of kinship and marriage than in less personal interactions.
Castes are ranked, named, endogamous in-marrying groups, membership in which is achieved by birth. There are thousands of castes and subcastes in India, and these large kinship-based groups are fundamental to South Asian social structure.
Each caste is part of a locally based system of interde-pendence with other groups, involving occupational specialization, and 1990s decade essay linked in complex ways with networks that stretch across regions and throughout the nation.
The word caste derives from the Portuguese castameaning breed, race, or kind. Among the Indian terms that are sometimes translated as caste are varna see Glossaryjati see Glossaryjatbiradriand samaj.
All of these terms refer to ranked groups of various sizes and breadth. Varnaor color, actually refers to large divisions that include various castes; the other terms include castes and subdivisions of castes sometimes called subcastes. Many castes are traditionally associated with an occupation, such as high-ranking Brahmans; middle-ranking farmer and artisan groups, such as potters, barbers, and carpenters; and very low-ranking "Untouchable" leatherworkers, butchers, launderers, and latrine cleaners.
There is some correlation between ritual rank on the caste hierarchy and economic prosperity. Members of higher-ranking castes tend, on the whole, to be more prosperous than members of lower-ranking castes.
Many lower-caste people live in conditions of great poverty and social disadvantage. According to the Rig Veda, sacred texts that date back to oral traditions of more than 3, years ago, progenitors of the four ranked varna groups sprang from various parts of the body of the primordial man, which Brahma created from clay see The Vedas and Polytheism, ch.
Each group had a function in sustaining the life of society--the social body. Brahmans, or priests, were created from the mouth.
They were to provide for the intellectual and spiritual needs of the community. Kshatriyas, warriors and rulers, were derived from the arms. Their role was to rule and to protect others.
Vaishyas--landowners and merchants--sprang from the thighs, and were entrusted with the care of commerce and agriculture. Shudras--artisans and servants--came from the feet. Their task was to perform all manual labor. Later conceptualized was a fifth category, "Untouchable" menials, relegated to carrying out very menial and polluting work related to bodily decay and dirt.
Since "Untouchables" have been known as Scheduled Castes, referring to their listing on government rosters, or schedules. According to the census, there were million Scheduled Caste members in India, approximately 16 percent of the total population.
The first four varnas apparently existed in the ancient Aryan society of northern India. Some historians say that these categories were originally somewhat fluid functional groups, not castes. A greater degree of fixity gradually developed, resulting in the complex ranking systems of medieval India that essentially continue in the late twentieth century.
Although a varna is not a caste, when directly asked for their caste affiliation, particularly when the questioner is a Westerner, many Indians will reply with a varna name.Of all the unfortunate events of the 90's including the Gulf War, the crisis in Waco, the O.J.
Simpson trial, and the presidential scandals, the internet has probably been the /5(5). NOTES. 1.
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It was supposed to be the next big thing. May 06, · Monica Lewinsky writes in Vanity Fair for the first time about her affair with President Clinton: “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.” She also says: “I, myself, deeply. India Table of Contents Varna, Caste, and Other Divisions.
The progress seen in the late 20th century has stalled in the 21st. Even though around 40% of the world’s population, more people than ever before, live in countries that will hold free and fair. NOTES. 1. Bush: First quote was from his address to the joint session of Congress, the second from his October 11th news conference. 2. "Commercial Aviation," Gallup Report, March/April, , pp. What do No Doubt, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Bill Clinton, the Olsen twins, and Pulp Fiction all have in common? They were all things that helped to make the s the best decade ever. Anyone.
Although many other nations are characterized by social inequality, perhaps nowhere else in the world has inequality been so elaborately constructed as in the Indian institution of caste.