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:
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.
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?