The age-old caste system is one of the main causes for social inequality in our country. It has contributed in keeping a large portion of the country's population backward.
The caste-system has its origins in the early Vedic times. Then it was in existance in the form of Varna system which divided the society in four divisions. The head of this caste system was the Brahmins who had knowledge at scriptures and were priests as well as teachers. Second in rank were the kshatriyas or the warriors.
The rulers also belonged to this caste. The Vaisnyas comprised of those engaged in trade and commerce. The fourth was the Shudras who were considered to be the lowest caste and were the craftsmen, artisans and the cultivators who served the other three.
Outside these four, there was a fifth group of untouchables who were treated with contempt and were looked down upon. They were supposed to perform unclean jobs.
Caste system was not originally determined by birth but became so in course of time. Thus, one could only be born as a Brahmin or Kshatriya, not become one by one's deeds.
The caste system resulted in lot of evils because of its rules. Society was divided into strict compartments and those belonging to the higher castes exploited the lower caste people- The shudras and untouchables had to perform all the menial tasks. They could not even think for their betterment. Their children had to remain slaves or bonded labousers, even if he was intelligent and aspired to study.
These caste prejudices still plague our society and even become influential factors at the .me of elections. Politicians encourage and exploit their attidues for their own gains. Discrimination against low-castes is widely prevalent and has kept a large percentage of our copulation backward. It is perhaps one of the main causes of India's backwardness.
Many social reformers such Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Dayanand Saraswati tried to end caste discrimination. The leaders of independent India were also against this system. Mahatma Gandhi b nself was one of the greatest opponents of discrimination or the basis of caste, and worked extensively towards assimilating those who were called Harijans into society. Our constitution also makes caste discrimination of any kind illegal. As a result of all these efforts there came flexibility. People acquired great awareness and the caste system is not followed so rigidly today, particularly in the urban areas. The developments of science and technology and progress in industry have changed the outlook of the people to a great extent.
Today even though, the caste system has been weakened, but it still has considerable power, particularly among the rural people. Thus, it has not been totally rooted out. We can put an end to this evil by spreading education and creating awareness among the people throughout the country. Let's extend our helping hand in spreading education, as it is the only solution of most of our problems.