India: Race Relations
|Plurality, or unity in diversity, has
always characterized Indian life and thought.
It is a country with 950 million people who speak more than 1,000 languages and dialects and support more than 20 political parties.
The differences in their races (and languages), castes
and religions are often causes for conflicts.
The Caste systemThe ancient culture of India was based upon a system of social diversification according to spiritual development.
Four orders of society were recognized based upon the four main goals of human beings and established society accordingly. These four groups were the Brahmins, the priests or spiritual class; the Kshatriya, the nobility or ruling class; the Vaishya, the merchants and farmers; and the Shudras or servants.
These four orders of society were called "varna", which has two meanings; first it means "color"; and second it means a "veil". As color it does not refer to the color of the skin of people, but to the qualities or energies of human nature. In ancient India, these divisions were not based on birth but based on qualifications.(The Hindu Universe)
The majority (about 80%) of Indian society is broken up into about 2000 castes which can be further broken down into endogamous units which are called subcastes, the total number of these units in India is estimated to have been 75000 at its peak, and still about 43000. (Races in India)
The Untouchables. . . , have their own traditional professions and their own subcastes. Those professions involve too much pollution to be performed by
To oppose this unfair treatment of the untouchable, Gandhi called them "Harijans," the "Children of God"