More about caste mobility

Hi Everyone

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!



3 thoughts on “More about caste mobility

  1. Back in the sixties, Lower castes were indeed poor, thats why they were called lower castes in the first place! But now, thanks to the 50 year long reservation, you cant say they are devoid of opportunities. in fact, Meira kumar, who is the Chairperson of our parliament, is a Dalit.

    On the other hand, in Maharashtra, there are villages who have boards stating proudly, ” no Brahmins live here”..

    As for female movement, YES it will. As a Feminist ( or an ‘equalist’), I can tell you its not going to be easy and in immediate future, but its definitely on the road. and the problems are more than often created by women than men. have heard enough of, ” oh, how can i let my husband cook”, ” sheeesh girls shouldn’t swear!” etc. *scowl*

  2. Would racism cease to exist in the future?
    Recent european reports suggest otherwise and that racism in Europe infact has increased.
    The racist attack on Indian students in ukraine just before the European Football championships is a testimony to this fact and that was widely covered in Norwegian media.
    Moreover, a few weeks ago two african students were sent out of a restuarant in Trondheim because they “smelt different”.
    The concept of racism is similar to castesim because caste system has its roots in among others what is called “varna” the 4 castes are infact 4 varnas. And what does varna mean…..colour (skin colour).
    My point is niether the indians nor europeans ought to be apologetic about the existence of casteism or racism, rather acknowledge it is as a global crisis that affects one and all.The solution is tolerance education.


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