Caste System in India
The caste system, or Varna, of India, came about when the Aryan speaking Nomadic groups came to India about 1500B.C.. The Aryan priests divided society into a caste system with four parts. This system determined Indian occupations. The priests and teachers were the highest caste. The second in rank were rulers and warriors, with merchants and traders third in rank. Last were the workers and peasants who were born to be servants to the other three castes. People could not change their caste. They had to marry and socialize with people from their own caste. This is very different from the class system of America.
In the United States class is determined by how much wealth you have, not usually by your occupation. The three classes are the upper class, middle class, and lower class. Most Americans fall into middle class or lower class with the very wealthiest people in the upper class. There is one section of the upper class, which is considered old money. These are families that have inherited fortunes from their relatives and are a small part of what is called high society. In American society you are not forced into one class. You can work in any job to make your fortune and are not stopped from performing any job that you would like to do just because you were born into lower or middle class. Our system is also not based on religion like the Indian caste system is.
Another group in India’s caste system are the untouchables. The untouchables are the people that have been thrown out of their caste because of something that they did that was wrong. The children of these people were also untouchables. The Indian constitution has abolished the system of untouchables. It is against the law to discriminate against the untouchables. Their constitution does not abolish the caste system. They cannot abolish the caste system because that would mean they would have to abolish lineages of related families from which parents select their children’s marriage partners. In India people must marry into their own caste. In America, we have laws against discrimination against people because of race and gender. We have no laws to stop discrimination between classes. Most Americans are very accepting of people from different classes, but there are still some upper class people that would not marry into a lower class and people that would not marry someone from a different religion. India is working on laws to end discrimination based on caste. In American we are allowed to marry, socialize, and move from class to class depending on how hard we are willing to work. The only class that is difficult to get into would be high society.
There are many differences between the caste system and the American class system. Very few Indians can upgrade their caste. This usually happens only when they get great wealth or have political connections. Most are not able to move upwards. After doing research on the caste system in India, I am glad that I live in the United States where I can be whatever I want to be if I am willing to work for it.