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No Place to Call Home: The Effects of Caste System Outside India

What is the caste system in India?

The Indian caste system refers to the 4 main categories that divided people in ancient India. The categories are the Brahmins, said the intellectuals and teachers’; the Kshaitriyas, the warriors; the Vaishyas, the traders; and the Shudras, who shouldered the menial jobs. Each of these were further broken down into 3,000 castes and 25,000 subcastes. There were also Dalits, also known as the untouchables, who were the outcasts of society and below all other castes.

The caste system shaped the culture of India for millennia, dictating many aspects of religious and social life. The upper and lower castes lived separately and inter-caste marriage was forbidden; there was extreme prejudice as one went down the hierarchy. After 3,000 years, the system was formally outlawed, yet the effects of the system are still felt as you read this article. Political parties have been created to cater towards certain castes while marriage and business agreements further caste exclusiveness. Members within castes still tend to stick together, showcasing the longevity and power the system retains.

Trouble Abroad

Additionally, the caste system even follows people overseas. For example, in London a man was told by a supervisor that he was lucky to work for him as he since was a member of a higher caste; later, the same man was fired from his job once it was discovered he had an inter-caste marriage. In the United States, a survey states that ⅔ of Dalits have experienced workplace discrimination, 40% have experienced educational discrimination, and 25% have experienced physical assault for their origins.

This discrimination is fueled by the increasing amount of lower caste immigrants from Southern Asia, the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. Due to the lack of opportunity at home, they seek success overseas yet face the same problem as revealing their caste abroad may yield the same prejudice with up to 52% of Dalits afraid to disclose their caste.

Overall, the caste system is extremely prevalent outside of India and needs to be combated for it is unacceptable. Reformation is needed now; nobody should be discriminated against because of the caste given to them by an archaic and dehumanizing system.

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