The Modern Caste System

In India, most of us definitely will be impacted by its effect, but never realized it’s consequence. It is much more dangerous than it actually appears. According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) 2018 report, approximately around 30% of the suicides happening due to this system. We have been facing this since our childhood, through continuous influences of our parents, relatives, and neighbors. We would have either affected by it or infected it on others. Probably, few subconsciously and many of us consciously will pass this onto the next generation as, like our parents, grandparents did.

Our family might feel it’s sacred or it’s stupid, but the decision is on our hands to initiate change. If you think I am talking about the caste system which we would’ve encountered in our school admission forms, entrance examinations, scholarship forms, etc.., then you are wrong. The system I was referring to is quite similar to the traditional caste system and it is deeply ingrained into Indian society for centuries that stops the progressiveness of the people and being passed onto generations.

You might feel vague about this article so far. Okay, Let me tell you a short story of two boys and their different stages of life.

Stage 1: A boy named Raavan born in a poor landless peasant family and another boy named Ram born in a wealthy Advocate family in the same neighborhood.

Stage 2: Raavan went to the school where children of a farmer, Driver, Electrician, etc. majorly study. Ram went to the expensive private school where children of Doctors, Businessmen, Bureaucrat, etc. usually study.

Stage 3: During early primary education, Raavan wants to be a land-owning farmer, and Ram wants to be an advocate like their father/grandfather.

Stage 4: While at high school education both can see their career path direction through exposure to multiple fields, Raavan aspires to be a pilot, and Ram wishes to be a Music composer.

Stage 5: Finally after graduation, Raavan becomes an astronaut to explore the space, and Ram practiced law to handle their family law firm.

While you look at these stages, you can see clear differences between Ram and Raavan’s story irrespective of the school they’ve studied. Raavan born landless and ends up exploring vast huge space whereas though Ram born in an advocate family, he couldn’t able to pursue his music career instead settled up within his family Law firm. Here, Raavan is able to pursue his interests, unlike Ram. Thus the majority of people can be easily categorized within these two classes either being Ram or Raavan. You might relate yourself to one of them.

In the 21st-century society, through the context explained above we have more Ram and very few Raavan, this clearly states that some biases are happening due to our traditional preconception among the people. Technically, we need more Raavan to solve the challenges we face today and bring in social change.

To understand these biases, Let’s explore the genesis of the caste system, i.e categorization of people based on their occupation. After this framework was established, people started to pursue their caste’s occupation and stopped looking for alternative jobs. Famously, this theory is called the “Principle of Least Resistance”.

To explain this theory with an instance, in the early 20th century, a boy from farmer occupation-based caste will more likely pursue farming rather than going to work for the manufacturing industry as he finds farming within his comfort zone and he also has network support and guiding group i.e parents, relatives or neighbors — who can help him with buying lands to sowing the seeds to harvesting the crops to finally selling in the market. But if the same boy wishes to go for a job in a manufacturing factory where he will be a complete stranger to the environment and he has to undergo multiple adaptations to survive.

Therefore the probability of him sustaining these changes to get reshaped is very low. Thus, the traditional caste system is smart enough to get evolved through this by not allowing the people of groups or castes to take different paths and keeping them under a single small comfort circle.

Similarly, We can observe the same pattern in the early 21st century, where castes (groups) are different but how they influence the next generation is similar. For example, there is a high probability that this generation’s parents influence his/her profession on their kids. For an instance, we can see the majority of doctor’s children pursuing Medicine, businessman’s children taking over his business like an electronics shop owner wanting his son to pursue polytechnic to take over his shop. lawyer wanting his/her son/daughter to practice law, Politician’s son/daughter showing interest to join politics, Government employees wanting their children to write government entrance examinations.

This is due to the lack of awareness and impact of the principle of least resistance in society. These are biologically non-coded and socially hard-coded genetic information that has been passed onto generations, which affects the children’s passion finding process and weaken the self-exploration capability.

In this Modern caste system, castes are transformed to Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Businessmen, Politicians, Government employees, Sanitation workers, Fishermen, etc., but the extent of influence from them seems similar.

To prove the existence of these classes, let us understand the predominant effect of the traditional caste system on marriage. It encourages people to get married within their caste with the assumption that by doing so they can stabilize the purity of the community population.

Now the modern caste system went to the next level, Websites like Doctorshaadi.com, iitiimshaadi.com, medicalmatrimony.com, engineersshaadi.com, etc., are reminding us that castes have changed. The modern caste system motivates one group of people to get married within their group with the assumption that they can stabilize the relative social or economic position in society. For instance, Take medicalmatrimony.com, they’ve mentioned “Medical Matrimony is India’s best doctor matrimonial platform has made it easy to find doctor grooms and doctor brides” on their website. Thus, their vision is clearly positioned that only doctors will get married to doctors, which follows to other websites as well. The whole point of explaining this to show that the modern caste system has arrived.

Thus, It’s high time to wake up and escape tangentially out of this small influence circle. The children who come out of this small influencing circle to experience different perspectives will find their passion and also bring in social change.

Moreover, Children must be given choice with the right exposure at the right time. “Right to Exposure” [RTE] will create a discussion to choose their learning path wisely and can lead them better in their personal and work life. I will discuss RTE more in detail in my next few articles.

This fundamentally addresses a lot of challenging problems that we as a country face such as unemployment, early education dropout, suicide due to peer pressure, job dissatisfaction,etc., This modern caste system is equally dangerous to the traditional caste system.

“Let’s not make education, a new caste system”

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Hariprasath Harikrishnan

Alumni of NIT Trichy and worked as a Data scientist in various startups. Currently researching in the field that intersects Politics, Technology, and People.