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The Caste System

             The caste system of social segregation cannot be corrected by merely climbing the social ladder. In a caste system, one is born into a particular caste. In India there are four major castes and many sub-castes of those. These classifications have been followed for thousand of years. People do not question these classifications; they are woven into the culture and the religion. Per the Hindu religion you can only change your caste by reincarnation into another. You can climb the social ladder so to speak, but it may take many lifetimes.
             The highest caste hierarchy is the Brahamans consisting of preachers, teachers and highly educated people. The bottom of the caste hierarchy is the Dalits, also known as the untouchables. The Dalits are the very low working class. Their work consists of doing the "unclean" tasks such as clearing away dead animals, sweeping, and other undesirable tasks. In between there are many castes, including businessmen, kings, and rulers.
             The Dalits or untouchables are considered unclean because India's culture holds high beliefs in ritual cleanliness. Therefore, the higher castes will not except water or even sit next to Dalits. Parents of Dalit children are indoctrinated from birth. For example, the children are forbidden to interact with the upper caste for fear of reprisal from elders. .
             Even if a Dalit were somehow given access to a wage earning job, or education, they would still belong to their given caste, and are required to marry within that caste. Thus the caste system is accepted and perpetuated.
             Even in an open society, such as the United States, desegregation of African Americans has taken years. African Americans were considered "free" over a century ago, but only recently have been able to begin to step into being considered equal to Caucasian Americans. Even with laws demanding equal rights and desegregation, racism still exists. This type of slow cultural response has happened even with systemic changes and reinforcements.

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