Social Institutions: Continuity And Change

Social Institutions: Continuity And Change

Question

What is the role of caste in contemporary India?

Answer

Caste sanctions is losing its lustre in contemporary India and therefore, do not operate with the same force in all sections of Indian society. However, marriage rules are still observed strictly. We see, endogamy is still the dominant mode in contemporary India but inter-caste marriages are also acceptable today in some sections of Indian society particularly in the urban centres. However, this trend is also limited to the upper castes i.e. inter caste marriages between Brahmin, Ksatriya and Vaisya or Bania families. Marriages outside we see, hardly run for any longer period and end in divorce or separation otherwise. This happens because the couple cannot do compromise with their distinct manners any long. The political use of the caste is increasing day-by-day to every region of India.

The structures and functions of caste system have also been deteriorated to a greater extent. The ritual injunctions and interdictions relating to food and physical contact have almost vanished since untouchability has been declared an offence liable to punishment by the laws of the land. The relations of Jajmani have been replaced by clientele in urban areas. Even in villages, Jajmani relationships are mantained only at the ritual level.

Caste system is thus, making an adequate adjustment with the changing times. It has retained its relevance by becoming more resilient and accommodative. The most important of such processes include sanskritisation, westernisation, industrialization, Urbanisation and constitutional legislation.

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