Caste system is generally defined as partitioning in human society based on labour and power. This social stratification assumes that a given set of the human society has entitlement to a given privilege than others. From this general definition, it can be argued that Caste system has been present in all human societies regardless of geographical locations and racial origins. The term Caste system has been associated with the Indian society because it has defined social classification of people. The four division of human society in Indian castes system has been the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudras (Prabhupada 54). The Brahmin constitutes the priestly nobles, Kshatriya the mighty warriors, Vaishya are the enterprising merchants and the Shudras are the lowly artisans. The Indian Caste system offers the historical origin of the caste system in human society in general (57).
Historically, human societies have believed in deities that holds the key to individual success and enjoyment of life. Priests have acted as the intermediary between people and gods. This arrangement has naturally given priests high status in their respectful society and their words are absolute because they convey the message from the gods. After the priests, the warriors protect the society and execute the will of the gods passed from the priest. This has historically placed warriors second in ranking after the priest. The merchants represent the rich and influential in the society. This division of society controls the economy through their enterprising and production. The Shudras represent the poor labourers who do actual production for pay. This group depend on the merchants for their livelihood and have subsistence economy. The Indian caste system thus provides a classical example of human society stratification that transcends geographical locations and history (Prabhupada 58).
Caste system as known in the Indian culture is typical of human discrimination against each other. Economic, political, and social interests inform this discrimination. Throughout history, humans tend to discriminate each other to gain advantage over scarce resources. These discrimination is perpetuated through a set of rules and taboos that are with time accepted by the disadvantaged individuals. The Shudras of India had for a long time believed that they were less equals from the rest of the Indian society. This social conditioning over a long period to believe a certain group of people has more right than others is present in every society today. The disadvantaged groups are obliged to accept their status and perpetuate it through the next generation. This create a culture of the mighty dominating the lowly.
The caste system of Indian can also typify the inequalities between different societies and nations. The rich nations always have a veto power on critical issues affecting the whole of the human society. This has given them undue advantage over the poor countries that follow the dictates of the rich nations. For the rich nation to remain rich, this culture must continue to avert competition from the poor countries. This according to Mandel (150), the development of the advanced countries is because of under-development of the poor countries. Once this culture is entrenched in the global political and economic arena, both the oppressed and the oppressor mutually accept the culture.
Caste system is a dominance culture of the weak by the strong. The dominant group of the human society behavior pattern occurs with little or no influence from the weaker group. This is opposite of the submissive group, whose behavior pattern largely depend on the influence of the dominant group. This unbalanced interdependency gives the dominance group greater opportunities to resources, thus perpetuating their dominance on the submissive group (Burgoon & Koch 205). The culture of dominance is present in every human society. This culture has given few influential people access to opportunities than others. This can be defined as an economic caste system.
The underlying theme of caste system is economic dominance and competition for scarce resources. This has been a clever way of reducing competition for resources in the human society. The ruling class in the society device rules that ensures their continuous control of resources and influence over others. The caste system of Indian can thus is a classic example of the discrimination and dominance of majority by the few. Indian scenario, the untouchable or the lowest in the caste strata, share the same religion and culture as those whose banish them. All form of dominance share a semblance of share identity to thrive. Belonging to the same culture and religion ensures the culture the two continue to influence the domination (Ernest 78).
The caste systems of Indian also condemn a person to poverty right from birth. A child born from a low caste inherits his/her parent caste status automatically. This is also true of the economic caste system in the national and global arena. The number of children born from poor parent on slums of Africa and Asia are automatically condemned to their parents’ status of poverty, hopelessness, and scarce opportunities to decent life.
The caste system is not unique to India society alone. Many societies perpetuate this practice under different names and terms. The economic caste system perhaps is the cruelest and widely spread from of discrimination in the human society. Regardless of the terminology, any selfish and discriminative culture represents the case system in human society.