society : In practice, how does India's caste system work in the 21st century? -1 balaji
Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
There are two distinct caste systems in India – Jati & Varna. Varna is specific to Hindu religion and probably going away, but Jati is common to all cultures in India & fairly alive in the 21st century other than a few small pockets of Metropolitan India.
Jatis often influence what we eat, how we pray, whom we marry, the ways we dress, the occupations we work, the tongues we speak, the cultural heritages we cling to, the localities we live in and even whether we get into a desired job/course or not. This is all especially true in rural India. In urban India, the influence is somewhat weak other than the marriage part [Marriages are often the last to change. Even in the US where the melting pot is strongest, interracial weddings are relatively rare].
Even something as basic as dressing could vary a lot from caste to caste.
Jati often resemble clans/ethnicities in other parts of the world. It is not really easy to break the ethnicities. Given the deep inroads that caste system has made into culture, it is not going away anytime soon. In fact, even changing religion doesn't change the caste, as caste is a much more deeper part of culture than even religion. That is the unfortunate reality of India.
While Caste system has not gone, the discrimination based on caste system has gone down siginicantly since the Independence in 1947. There are both legal and social forces that have worked to achieve this.