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Casteism in Indian Society

GS Paper 1

 Syllabus: Indian Society: Caste

 

Source: IE

 Context: The article discusses the need to acknowledge the existence of caste in Indian society is crucial for achieving true equality and inclusion.

 

What is casteism?

Casteism is a social system characterized by the hierarchical division of society based on caste, resulting in discrimination, inequality, and unequal access to opportunities for individuals belonging to different castes.

 

Efforts to eliminate caste-based discrimination in India:

  • Constitutional Provisions: Articles 15 and 17 specifically address the prohibition of discrimination based on caste.
  • Reservation Policies: have been implemented to provide historically disadvantaged castes with better access to education, jobs, and political representation. E.g. Article 330 and Article 332
  • Legal Framework: Laws like the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, provide protection against violence and discrimination faced by marginalized communities.
  • Awareness Campaigns: Public awareness campaigns, workshops, and seminars are conducted to sensitize society.
  • Social Movements: Various social reform movements, led by activists, organizations, and leaders, have aimed to challenge and change traditional caste-based norms and practices.

 

Despite the above efforts, caste-based discrimination continues to persist in Indian society due to the following reasons:

  • Historical Legacy: Historical injustices and inequalities continue to influence perceptions and behaviours, leading to the perpetuation of discriminatory practices.
  • Cultural Norms and Traditions: Social practices, rituals, and inter-caste marriage restrictions reinforce caste-based distinctions, making it difficult to break free from these entrenched norms.
  • Power dynamics: Caste-based discrimination is often tied to power dynamics, with dominant castes seeking to maintain their privileged positions. Lower castes face discrimination and exclusion as a means of preserving existing hierarchies.
  • Economic Disparities: Lower-caste individuals often face limited access to education, employment opportunities, and resources, leading to a cycle of poverty and marginalization that reinforces discriminatory practices.
  • Lack of Effective Implementation: While laws and policies have been enacted to address caste-based discrimination, their effective implementation remains a challenge.
    • Weak enforcement, lack of awareness, and corruption hinder the eradication of discriminatory practices.
  • Political Considerations: Political parties exploit caste divisions for electoral gains, perpetuating caste-based discrimination for their own interests.

  

What is Decasting in India?

“Decasting” in India refers to the process of dismantling and eliminating the entrenched caste-based discrimination, inequalities, and social hierarchies present in society. It involves challenging and overcoming the practices, biases, and prejudices associated with the caste system.

Steps for Achieving De-casteing in India
Acceptance: Acknowledge the presence and impact of casteism in society, instead of denying or overlooking it.
Education: Educate younger generations about the importance of seeing beyond caste and the value of inclusivity.
Representation beyond reservations: Push for Dalit representation in cultural institutions, intellectual spaces, and media, beyond just reserved seats in politics
Celebrate Dalit History: Embrace and highlight the contributions of Dalits in the Indian independence movement and other spheres.
Promote Allies: Encourage individuals from privileged castes to become allies, supporting marginalized communities in various spaces.
Build Trust: Address and work on the distrust Dalits might feel towards the upper segments of society, fostering unity.
Policies Emphasizing Inclusion: Formulate policies that emphasize diversity, inclusion, and equity, ensuring nobody is left behind.

 

Conclusion

Addressing caste-based discrimination requires a multi-faceted approach that tackles both structural and attitudinal issues. It involves raising awareness, promoting education and economic opportunities, enforcing anti-discrimination laws, and fostering social and cultural change.

 

Insta Links:

Caste System

 

Mains Link:

Discuss in detail features of the Caste System in India, also, identify various reasons for strengthening caste-based identity in today’s times. (15M)