The Caste System in India History and Modern Perspectives
India’s Population • India today has a population of over 1.1 billion people • About 80% of Indians are Hindus • About 13% are Muslims • Did you know that today there are more native English speakers in India than in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined?
India’s Population • It is the second most populous country in the world today. • It houses about 16% of the world’s population -- on 2% of the world’s landmass! • Approximately 70% of people live in villages. • The other 30% live in 200 cities across the country.
Indian Languages • India is a land of many languages – 16 official ones, including English • In the north, Indo-European languages are spoken: • Hindi आदेश मिला किसी मकान को तोड़ने का, • Guajarati • Bengali • Punjabi • These languages are distantly related to English.
Indian Languages • In the south, Dravidian languages are spoken: • Tamil பெற வாநேல ஹாணஸேந • Malayam • Telegu • These languages have little in common with the languages of the north.
Indian History • The British ruled India from 1858 - 1947 • The kings and queens of England were also Emperors and Empresses of India from 1876 – 1947
Indian History • In 1947, India gained independence from Britain, thanks in part to Gandhi • The country was divided (partitioned) into Pakistan (Muslim majority) and India (Hindu majority).
Indian History • Partition was a very bloody time; • Muslims and Hindus fought many battles. • The area of Punjab is still claimed by both Pakistan and India.
Development in India • The 1950s and 1960s were a time of economic development for India. • Modernization came to India, but at a human price. • Many people were forced from their village homes. • Health care is not as advanced as in Western countries
The Caste System • The Hindu population is divided up into four official castes: • Brahmin – priests and scholars • Kshatria – rulers and aristocrats • Vaisia – businessmen and landlords • Sudra – peasants and workers • The higher the caste, generally the richer the members of the caste. • The Sudra have few economic and social rights.
The Caste System • A fifth caste is a “non-caste”, known by several different names: • The Untouchables (higher castes were not supposed to touch them) • Dalits (“the oppressed” – the politically correct term today) • Scheduled castes (because they are “scheduled” by the government to receive fairer treatment).
The Fifth Caste • The Untouchables did the work that the other castes considered unclean: • Butchers • Latrine cleaners • Tannery workers – • can you think why? • Untouchables had almost no rights • They were often considered as a “pollution” and had to live away from others
The Fifth Caste • Discrimination against lower castes was outlawed in 1947. • In reality, discrimination is still common, especially in traditional rural areas. • Many Dalits have gone into the public service and work for the government.