Caste Discrimination

The caste system in India is a system of social stratification,[2] which is now also used as a basis for affirmative action.[3][4] Historically, it separated communities into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups called Jātis,[5] which is synonymous with caste in contemporary usage. The Jātis were grouped by the Brahminical texts into four categories or varnas: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Certain groups, now known as "Dalits", were excluded from the varna system altogether, ostracized by all other castes and treated as untouchables.[6][7] Strongly identified with Hinduism, the caste system has been carried over to other religions on the Indian subcontinent, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism.[8][9][10]

Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Indian life, but various contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was constructed by the British colonial regime.[3] Between 1860 and 1920, the British segregated Indians by caste, granting administrative jobs and senior appointments only to the upper castes. Social unrest during 1920s led to a change in this policy.[11][12] From then on, the colonial administration began a policy of affirmative action by reserving a certain percentage of government jobs for the lower castes.[13] After India achieved independence, this policy of caste-based reservation of jobs and positive discrimination was formalized with lists of Scheduled Castes (Dalit) and Scheduled Tribes (Adivasi).[14]

The caste system has no legality in India[15] and discrimination against lower castes is illegal in India under Article 15 of its constitution.[16] However, caste-related discrimination and violence continue to be reported.[17] Since 1950, the country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste population.[18] These caste classifications for college admission quotas, job reservations and other affirmative action...