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Caste System in India

India is also home to a large and diverse population that has added to its vibrant character since ages. There are about 3,000 communities in India. So wide and complex is the mix of the Indian population that two-thirds of her communities are found in the geographical boundaries of each of her states. They are a mingling of the Caucasoid, the Negrito, the Proto-Austroloids, the Mongoloid and the Mediterranean races. The tribals constitute eight percent of the total population of India.

Religious Places in India

Based on their physical type and language, we can easily divide Indian people into four broad classes. First, a majority of high class Hindus, who live in North India and whose language is derived from Sanskrit. Secondly, those who live in that part of India that is south of the Vindhyas and whose languages - Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam - are entirely different from Sanskrit. These are known by the generic name of "Dravidians". Thirdly, primitive tribes living in hills and jungles of India, who as mentioned above constitute eight percent of the total population in India. The Kols, Bhils and Mundas belong to this class. Fourthly, there are a people with strong Mongolian features inhabiting within India the slopes of the Himalayas and mountains of Assam. The Gorkhas, Bhutiyas and Khasis are striking examples of this.

To add all this, India is perhaps the only place in the world where twenty religious streams flow together. If that sounds clichéd, here is a surprising piece of information. About 500 communities of India say they follow two religions at the same time! India has a population of over 1 billion people, the majority of whom are Hindus.

The Caste system in India

Religions in India

The caste system in India is a social system where people are ranked into groups based on heredity within rigid systems of social stratification. The caste is a group whose members are restricted in their choice of occupation and degree of social participation. Marriage outside the caste is prohibited. Social status is determined by the caste of one's birth. The Indian term for caste is jati, which generally designates a group varying in size from a handful to many thousands. There are thousands of such jatis, and each has its distinctive rules and customs. Varna (meaning, "color") refers to the ancient and somewhat ideal fourfold division of the Hindu society: (1) the Brahmans, the priestly and learned class; (2) the Kshatriyas, the warriors and rulers; (3) the Vaisyas, farmers and merchants; and (4) the Sudras, peasants and laborers. Below the category of Sudras were the untouchables, or Panchamas (meaning "fifth division"), who performed the most menial tasks. Although there has been much confusion between the two, jati and Varna are different in origin as well as function. The various castes in any given region of India are hierarchically organized, with each caste corresponding roughly to one or the other of the Varna categories.

Reservations

The Indian government follows a policy positive discrimination towards the Backward Classes. In accordance to this policy, 15% of the government jobs and 15% of the students admitted to universities must be from Scheduled Castes. For the Scheduled Tribes there is a reservation of about 7.5%. There is also reservation for other backward classes. Along with the central government, the state governments of India too follow a policy of reservation. Different states have different figures of reservation based on the population constitution of each state. In recent times this has led to tensions because the high caste communities feel discriminated against by the government. In many cases a large number of high caste members compete for a few places reserved for them. Sometimes some reserved positions remain unmanned because there were few candidates from the lower caste causing more tension between the castes. The caste identity has become a subject of political, social and legal interpretation.

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