But What About Caste Based Discrimination?

Racial discrimination, religious discrimination, social discrimination, we have heard about them all. To many the news of caste based discrimination may come as a surprise.

So what does caste based discrimination mean anyways?

Caste is derived from the word Casta, which symbolizes a sense of purity of breed used by Portuguese observers to describe the division of the Hindu society in Western and Southwestern India into socially ranked occupational categories.

Now lets take a look at how Caste is defined in the dictionary:

caste  (kst)

n.

1. Any of the hereditary, endogamous social classes or subclasses of traditional Hindu society, stratified according to Hindu ritual purity, especially the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes.
2. A social class separated from others by distinctions of hereditary rank, profession,or wealth.
3.

a. A social system or the principle of grading society based on castes.
b. The social position or status conferred by a system based on castes: lose caste by doing work beneath one’s station.
They are the “Untouchables”:

To separate themselves, those practicing caste based discrimination exclude lower castes and ban them from interacting with anyone of higher caste. Such thoughts and beliefs have evolved over the year to create a stigma around lower caste people, labeling them as “untouchable”. This concept of untouchability is a well-known discriminatory practice that is followed by various groups throughout the world. It centers on the claim that people of lower caste are untouchable and should not be associated with. Those of higher caste avoid coming into physical contact with them while banning them from walking in their shadows, forcing them to take off their shoes when walking through their villages and similar practices as they fear they will “pollute” them. Caste based discrimination can also take a very violent turn, for example, in India there are at least 13 murders happening weekly due to caste based violence in the country.

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This concept of discrimination rarely receives any media coverage or social research, and was only recognized as a violation of human rights by the United Nations in the 1990s. Unfortunately, caste based discrimination does not only stop at exclusion of certain groups within the community. It has created a deep rooted affect upon the societies and countries where it was and still is heavily practiced.  Such aspects of caste based discriminatory actions have, over the years, continued to severely lower the quality of life that these individuals experience. Negligence to deal with this prominent issue of discrimination has affected these countries’ ability to further develop economically, socially and politically.

Caste based discrimination has rarely been addressed in the international sphere, thus the majority of people are unaware of what it encompasses and the serious implications it might have upon a society. Various societies where caste discrimination still exists deny its presence or claim that the problem has been tackled. Some countries such as India and Nepal have addressed the problem by creating various governmental programs to raise awareness about the issue of caste based discrimination. Various local NGOs created and run by the “untouchable” population in these countries have also been providing victims of caste based discrimination with resources and assistance.

What are your thoughts on Caste based discrimination? Do you think if this form of discrimination was more publicized then more initiatives would be in place to solve the issue?

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18 thoughts on “But What About Caste Based Discrimination?

  1. I think it would probably help to raise awareness of this issue on a larger scale. I’m no expert on the matter, but from what I understand, the higher caste people are also of the upper class/more wealthy crowd, so painting people who engage in such practices in a negative way would deter others from being associated with them (e.g. people wouldn’t want to get involved in business with them for fear of that being interpreted as them having no problems with such practices, and, in turn impacting their own businesses). However, while I feel like this would “force” the higher caste to change their ways, it doesn’t do anything to eliminate the mentality amongst higher caste people that they’re naturally better than lower caste people. Any ideas on how to solve that problem?

    • The persisting mentality of natural superiority among higher caste people is the driver behind the issue. Initiatives were taken by governments of various countries and numerous NGOs to solve and eliminate caste based discrimination, however this mentality causes a hurdle in the way of cooperation between “higher caste” individuals and these organizations. If these individuals are unwilling to change and cooperate then the problem will not be solved.
      Increased education regarding the implications of caste based discrimination are always a good solution. However, targeting the younger generations to solve this problem can be very beneficial. Creating programs where kids from different castes are brought together can help get rid of the caste based mentality at an early age.If kids are taught to treat each other as equals at an early age, there is a good chance that such teachings will remain with them as they enter adulthood.

  2. Fantastic post! The scale of the violence based on caste is startling. I don’t have a way to solve that problem since even equality laws don’t seem to eradicate discrimination, even here in the developed world. Are the government programs about providing assistance to “untouchables” populations or just trying to raise awareness to the issues?

  3. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that there are systems of privilege and oppression that I have never seen either side of. Do you know if there’s any reliable information about whether the prevalence of this kind of discrimination has increased or decreased recently? I feel like that could influence my thinking about whether publicity would be able to practically influence the issue. Nonetheless, spreading awareness about the occurrence of discrimination is likely beneficial either way, especially in terms of protecting the dignity of the people harmed by it. Having a chance to stand up for them selves must be empowering!

  4. I know you’re going to be working with an organization focused on Dalit Welfare, so do you know how the situation has changed recently within there? And do you know if increasing technologies and impacts of globalization is making a difference at all in improving awareness of the Dalit population?

    • There are many organizations, such as the Dalit Welfare organization that I will be working with in September, that have attempted to tackle this issue. In Nepal specifically, some political progress has been made as the Dalit population was not represented in the government. As more activists and organizations fought for equality this situation began to change.
      Despite some of the progress that have been made, many problems still persist. According to some research I did about the issue, the Dalit’s are still treated as lower class citizens. Throughout the country they remain at both economic and social disadvantages. Many hate crimes have also been committed against Dalit individuals across the country.

  5. I think that it is primarily going to be a matter of public shift in opinion within the countries that practice caste-based discrimination that will change how people are treated. I do not know if publicizing the issue would help unless the citizens are prone to ‘peer pressure; from other global citizens who oppose the caste system. Perhaps if the celebrities within that culture begin to speak up about it and denounce it?

  6. Seham Khalifeh says:

    I agree with Katiana, there needs to be a general public shift in how the different castes, especially the lower ones, are viewed. Introducing new policies that recognize the rights of ‘Untouchables’ as equal to those of higher caste is a good place to start. Also introducing policies that can break down the social barriers between the classes would allow integration among them. Obviously, these policies may not be effective immediately, but continued efforts to eliminate the stigma surrounding the lower caste are needed. I also believe educating the ‘lower castes’ on their rights and equipping them with the right skills to break down these social barriers through activism are other ways this form of discrimination could be tackled.

    • Both you and Katiana brought up a great point. A shift in the general public’s view of lower castes can bring many positive changes to the problem of caste discrimination. Involving celebrities or very prominent and influential public figures can be a great step towards solving the issue.
      Initiatives that allow for integration between different castes is a great approach towards integrating everyone in these divided societies. That along with educating lower castes about their rights and how to fight for them can increase the level of activism present in society, and might apply more pressure on governments to implement more policies that address caste based discrimination.

  7. Whole world think that India has many castes which are main reason of discrimination of people but its very very big misconception of caste system spread around the world to defame culture of India because it was the biggest systematically designed system for people from thousands of years. Now let me tell you what is meaning of varna and caste system in India and how its was started. In Ancient India there were two great saints, one was saint Bhrigu and other was saint Bhardwaj. They met to discuss how to structure a stable society for human being to live proper life, First they recognized the four sources which are:
    1. Knowledge 2. Weapons 3. Wealth 4. Land
    They decided to make system where nobody has more than one of that. These should not be in one hand, not even two should be in one hand. So those who has knowledge will not have wealth, will not have weapons and will not have lands. Those who will have weapons will rule the country but they will not make policy. They need to go to people having knowledge to seek their permission and advice. Those who are having wealth, their social status will be decided by the how much philanthropy they do not by their wealth. Those who has lands have to produce for the society. In fact none of these four category or “varna” was based on by birth.

  8. Hindu (body) four community: brahmin (head) kshatriya (arm) vaishya (belly) shudra (feet) All these four community called as hindu. We all are parts of one body. Without each part our body is not complete. If we lost one part of our body then we become handicap. The human body is the entire structure of a human being. Human Body is considered so loving that God even wants to have it. Spiritual Yogis have found that after going through the 84 millions species this souls get the most dignified human body. So it is the last step to explore the God or to get the view of almighty father god. We know that the soul never dies it takes birth again and again just like as we take new clothes to wear the soul as it takes new body and it is an infinite process. But the body what we get in next birth depend on our karma that has been cited in Gita by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. We all here to perform our duties. Our action makes our destiny and nothing else. The result is in the hand of supreme power. Karma is the seed of plant and if the seed is genuine it must be fruitful.

  9. Many a time, man has taken birth in high caste and low caste; but this does not make him great or low Having been born in high caste man thinks himself to be great and being born in low caste thinks himself to be low and pitiable; both of these states of mind are wrong because many times man has been born in high and low castes. Hence, one should not be proud of having been born in high caste and not feel low if born in low caste family.Greatness has nothing to do with high caste. Man becomes great because of his noble work, exemplary character and becomes loathsome because of his immorality and evil conduct. Thus, it is his conduct only that decides his greatness or lowliness. Who does not know that high family born Ravana, Kansa, Duryodhana and others are censurable; whereas Metarya muni, Harikeshi muni and others, though born in low family, are venerable.Then, what is the importance of high or low caste?

  10. We always talk about religion and castesim but in reality there is no any caste and religion. We all are same our blood are same.then why we believe in discrimination. God never created any caste they made simple human being.. Mentally sick people take the path of fundamentalism and spread casteism and communism. They suffer from inferiority complex and divide the society into “we” and “they”. They (belonging either to higher or lower ranked caste) have a fear in their heart that if they do not get a higher place for themselves in society, “other” people are going to exploit them and going to put them down.They don’t have believe on themselves and their own work. They have doubt own their capability. People with negative mindset suffer from inferiority complex and divide society into compartments like higher castes or lower castes.and can’t tolerate “others” progress or well-being. They cannot work hard and cannot tolerate anybody else’s achievements. These are the people with negative mindset who believe in ranking some belonging to higher castes and/or some to lower castes. They are coward and they are unable to protect themselves…

  11. God doesn’t need Brahmin priest, god isn’t so narrow minded. god accept everyone. actually Brahmin priest needs god to make money.

  12. All human-beings are equal in the eyes of God.The human-beings have only created the caste system.There are good and bad people in both high caste as well as low caste.
    Ultimately,what matters to God is, whether one is a good person or striving to become one, or not.

  13. One who thinks himself to be of a high caste is actually low. While one who thinks himself/herself to be of low caste is said to be high caste.As per the scriptures, people are known by their nature and the quality of work they perform..

  14. The brahmin community has been one of the dirty communities which has planned strategically to fool people in the name of god by generating the highest donations in the temple, doing business to fool and loot money in the name of puja, death, marriage, new home… For any occasion, there’s one puja. They charge very high prices and take away all the items after the puja. They have created prostitution in the name of devadasis. They suppress jobs and employment and welfare and equality are destroyed. they have destroyed the Indian medical system. They have killed Indian medical science like siddha vaidhyam and created ayurveda and carnatic music by destroying dravidian music. Even today they have the temples under their control. They say they don’t like untouchables, but they have always been sexually harassing low caste women.

  15. Whenever someone’s ask you about your caste then your answer should be to them is:
    I am a Brahmin in knowledge
    I am kshatriya in valor
    I am vaishya in business
    I m shudra in service
    In the end I am just sanatam dharmi hindu and nothing else..Then say you proud to be a hindu..

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