The word caste is derived from the term ‘casba’. It depicts a ranking system of human groups based on hereditary and occupation. The traditional Caste system in India is a rigid mode to compartmentalize society.
The Indian caste system is highly complex. Its functionality in Indian society is highly surprising because it has many drawbacks. The rigid structure of the caste system in India has abided through centuries.
In India caste comprises closed groups, whose members are severely obliged to restrain themselves to certain hereditary occupations. Particular castes are allowed to marry and socialize only within their own groups.
In India an Individuals social status is gauged by his birth. This also serves to determine his caste. Nowhere in the world is caste exhalted to such a degree as in India.
The Indian word for caste is jati. Thousands of jatis are strewn all over India. Each jati has its own governance, customs, traditions, religion, rules and style of living.
The ancients divided Indian society in four groups-namely Brahmans who came from the priestly group of learning, Shatriyas who were the warrior and ruling section of society, Vaishyas who were businessmen, traders and farmers; and Shudras who comprised of laborers and humble peasants. The untouchable or Panchamas were placed below the category of Shudras.
The rigid hierarchy of the Indian caste system has been severely criticized by individuals with a humanitarian vision from India and outside India. Gautam Buddha, Mahavir, Ramananda Maharshi, Kabir, Eknath, Dnyneshwar, Ramanuja, Tukaram, and Sathya Sai Baba all led criticisms of caste system in India in olden times.
Many Christian missionaries and Indian reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Dayananad, Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Vivekanand, Mannathu Padmanabhan, Narayan Guru, Mahatma Gandhi led many crusades against discriminations based on caste in Indian society.
There are multiple effects of caste system in modern India. Metropolitan India has started walking away from the rigidity of the Indian caste system. This is the result of co mingling with other communities, higher education, globalization and economic growth