India is probably the most complex society in the world. The country is growing fast but traditional views that would appear as rather obsolete today still persist. Among those, and when it comes to the caste system –even though outlawed ever since the 1950s –segregation and discrimination are still in place, looming above perceptions about class.
Τhe Caste System, or else Jati System has existed in India for more than 2,000 years with its roots holding in ancient Hinduist traditions. According to those, four distinct social classes constituted society with the Brahmins (Priests and Scholars) in the most prestigious place, followed by the Ksatriyas (Nobles and Warriors), the Vaisyas (bussiness owners) and Shudras (workers and servants). But distinction does not stop there; there is this fifth caste under the name Dalit (or else Untouchables), ostracized from the rest of society, considered impure –not to be touched– limited to heavy undesirable jobs outside the urban centres. The Dalit are disgraceful, suffering their fate, punished for the nasty life they led in their previous incarnation. Themselves, they suffer their stigma, fully aware of their condition, stoically accepting their present as a passage to the next incarnation, longing for the end of their martyrdom. Under no circumstances would a Dalit marry a spouse from another caste or share neither private nor public life with them.
The caste system was written into the laws of the British India during year 1947 and became even more rigid ever since its acquisition of formal institutional status. It was in 1955 when the caste system was outlawed and integration of the Dalits into society became part of governmental planning. In the meanwhile large numbers of the Dalit population had converted into Islam in quest of escape from the stigma.
Since 1950s, the country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste population. A 2003 article in The Telegraph claimed that inter-caste marriage and dating were common in urban India. Indian societal and family relationships are changing because of female literacy and education, women at work, urbanisation, the need for two-income families, and global influences through television. Female role models in politics, academia, journalism, business, and India’s feminist movement have accelerated the change.