My previous post about the caste system triggered quite a few comments. I have also got some other response from a number of people. When you write a blog, there is nothing better like that! Like someone (I think it was maybe Michael Jackson) said; “it is much better to get bad feedback than to get no feedback”.
Let me also stress that I’m not at all an expert in this area. I write about it because I think it is interesting and something that is still present in India today, even if not very visible.
So, back to the theme about caste mobility. In my previous blog I said that it is possible to move from one caste to another. That was maybe not exactly as precise as it should have been. What I tried to write about was the possibility for one caste to move (ideally upwards) in the caste hierarchy. My input was based on a book called “Social changes in Modern India” by M.N. Srinivas. And I should stress that the book was written in 1966, so “modern” is maybe not the correct word anymore. What he did was to look at the different censuses that was conducted, and then to see how the different castes was placed.
Today people are not grouped into castes in the census. But I do think that there are other ways to see the caste mobility. As Srinivas stressed in his book, it is not just about the official census. It is also about how different castes behave and what they do. He uses an example on how one low caste started to engage in trade. Back in the sixties communication got improved so that it was possible for these lower castes to do things that they had not done before. Today the communication is even extremely much better. This should lead to more opportunities for lower castes. The idea about micro economy and banks lending money to the poor will also help in this situation. And off course industries like the IT-industry help in breaking down the “barriers” between different castes. Here there seems to be opportunities for everyone.
What will happen with the caste system in the future? Will it disappear? Well, I don’t have the crystal ball, so it’s a bit difficult for me to look into the future. I have discussed with some friends about if there will ever be any “gender revolution” in India, and if we will see any huge female movement. My Indian friends say that this is quite unlikely to happen. Traditions are too strong, and India is a too huge country, so a revolution like that is not possible. I guess the same will hold true with the caste system. Things will probably change gradually, but not like any revolution.
Do you agree? Maybe you have some insight into this that you would like to share? I’m more than happy to hear it.
Talk to you soon!