Magazine article New Internationalist

The Caste System

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Caste System

Article excerpt

The caste system ensures that between 250 and 300 million people worldwide continue to suffer from segregation, exclusion, modern day slavery and other extreme forms of discrimination, exploitation and violence.

The Indian caste system is probably the oldest social hierarchy in the world. It is difficult to place a firm date on its origin as the system evolved over time into a rigid social hierarchy, and was further reinforced under British rule. You can be a president or a pauper, but you cannot escape the caste you are born into.

Caste originated as a Hindu system of social stratification (though it often persists in other religions as well) and has been exported throughout the Indian Diaspora. A person remains in the same caste from birth to death and caste is handed down from generation to generation. Such divisions are justified by making use of the religious doctrine of karma, a belief that status in life is determined by one's deeds in previous lifetimes. …

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