Is there Today Caste System or there is only Caste in India?
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Jaipur National University
Publication date: 2012-07-09
Polish Sociological Review 2012;178(2):245–264
The main focus of the paper is that caste system has always been resilient and dynamic due to its inner inconsistencies and contradictions on the one hand, and due to its interpenetration into economy, polity and culture on the other. The aim of this paper is to understand continuity and change in the caste system. Caste has engaged people, hence it has acquired a meta-legal approval. Caste has never been a simple ritual hierarchy because it has encompassed the entire matrix of socio-economic and political relations. It has been argued that there is a need to reconceptualize caste. Caste is no more simply a system of idea and values. More important is to see actual behaviour of the people vis-à-vis the role of caste as a system. Caste has become a matter of interpretation rather than substantialization. It refers to a purposive rationality. Its discrete use provides a description of the problems of Indian society, polity and economy. However, besides caste, there are new status groups, varied forms of social mobility, and structural processes of change and dominance. In such a situation, “family” and “individual” are emerging as agencies of reproduction of inequality/equality. Caste is becoming more of a state of mind of an individual. Contemporary changes have reshaped caste. The policy of reservations based on caste has kept it alive and vibrant. Protests against caste-based reservations have also contributed to the continuity of caste. Caste may be elusive for some who have distanced from their social and cultural roots, but for others, who continue to be there in villages and towns, caste is enduring, and it is there in practice in one way or other. At times, caste-based outbursts surface, though in everyday life, caste is not so visible as a means of social control.