A Caste-based Class System In Different Countries
A caste system is a structured class system that is determined by birth. Basically, it means that in certain cases in some societies, if your parents are poor, you will be poor as well. (Vocabulary.com). A caste or castes are perceived as hereditary groups with fixed ritual statuses where social classes are defined in terms of the relations of production. In Brave New World, their society is based around a caste system. There are five castes, Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons. Each caste is assigned different tasks or jobs, which they must perform in order to maintain the stability of the supposedly perfect society. While this idea of a system based around keeping those poor stay poor or the powerful stay in power may not be deemed acceptable in modern times, many different countries have and continue to use this type of system. Certain examples of countries who adopted ideas from a caste system and either used them or continue to use them includes countries like “Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan – as well the Buraku people of Japan, the Osu of Nigeria, and certain groups in Senegal and Mauritania, who also suffer from caste-based discrimination” (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org). Castes still exist in India, Yemen, certain countries in africa like Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia and Somalia, and many Latin American countries(http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org). A caste-based system is the result of long standing tradition and beliefs that are outdated, but yet still used that must be abolished when used to target and discriminate a certain group. The caste system is not viewed as acceptable in society today, yet several countries continue to follow this system and unfortunately, those who are outcasted by this system still deal with the negatives of it everyday.
In Yemen there exists a caste-like system that keeps Al-Akhdam, a social group as the perennial manual workers for the society through practices that mirror untouchability. “What remains, however, and is common to many cultures is the ‘outcaste,’ the people considered below the level of common humanity of all the others, ‘untouchable’ (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org). They and their descendants, the dalit in India, the burakumin in Japan, the baekjeong in Korea, all have faced discrimination, and some continue to do so today”. The term baekjeong itself means “common people.”. The caste system and its practices have been outlawed and declared punishable offenses, but these laws are very difficult to implement in countries with long standing traditions to abide by this system. The idea that certain countries can adopt this system and nothing can likely be done of it is heartbreaking. It’s a shame how in underdeveloped countries they do not have the liberty of being able to fully move up the social class ladder and are practically stuck there for life, Just like how in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, alphas and betas are bred to always be apart of the higher class while gammas, deltas, and epsilons are bred and genetically modified to always be apart of the lower, working class group. And while the extent to which they go to in order to keep them there in the book is not the same as in countries that use this system today, it is likely that their whole system is based around keeping certain people at the top and bottom. It’s a shame that certain people born into this type of society are sentenced to basically a life sentence of hell while others get to reap the benefits of wealth and power.
As a religious concept relating to Hinduism, the Oxford English Dictionary recognizes caste as ‘each of the hereditary classes of Hindu society, distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity and of social status’ and as ‘any exclusive social class’. Castes are also always hierarchical in the sense that, as long as it exists, so does the division of people into “high” and “low” (https://qz.com). With rapid urbanization and education of India’s largely rural, agrarian population, the significance of caste has diminished, except in government mediated interventions in the form of quotas and reservations in education, jobs, and promotions for the socially ‘lower,’ but numerous and thus politically important, castes. The traditional hereditary system of social stratification of India, in which all social classes exist in thousands of endogamous groups is termed as Jāti. The jāti system, usually with politically and economically derived hierarchies, has been followed across the Indian subcontinent with regional variations across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. While the prevalence of the jāti system has reduced significantly over the course of the twentieth century, remote and rural areas of the subcontinent continue to adhere to the system of jāti segregation. India’s castes system appears in the most ancient founding texts of Hinduism, including Vedas, which depict the division of Indian society where people are born and remain unequal. The division of indian society is made in varna which is a four-party division of society. At the top of this hierarchy, we find Brahmanes (priests), followed by Kshatriyas (warriors), then Vaishyas (traders), and finally, at the bottom of the social ladder, Sudra (the remaining of the population, except the Untouchables).
Different religious denominations have traditionally followed different kinds of jāti stratification. At bottom, caste’s most defining feature is its ability to render inevitable a rigid and pervasive hierarchical system of inclusion and exclusion. Untouchables are excluded from the castes’ system as they practice impure or degrading jobs, like butchers, midwifes, fishermen or hunters, which are in direct contact with blood. The jati system is not static in which all groups stay in the same position. There is mobility in the system and jatis have changed their position over the centuries of Indian history. However, the jati moves up the social scale as a group and not as individuals. While there is mobility for people to move up, it isn’t like other countries today. The reason for this is due to the emphasis on the jati system helping people improve their position in the class system by advancing them economically and emulating social groups with money and power. According to Manusmriti, the oldest text in Hinduism, “the caste system is a set of prescribed unequal laws for different castes based upon their status in society and it justifies the caste system as the basis of order and regularity of society” (freeforlifeintl.org). The intense discrimination of the untouchables affects every area of their lives, including the basic human need stemming from meals to eat, to clothing, to the simple need of clean drinking water. Examples of this discrimination against dalits can be witnessed in their everyday lives. “If a Dalit is seen touching public drinking water, that water is immediately considered contaminated. Being discriminated against as a Dalit is an everyday occurrence and these members are fearful for what may come next within their day-to-day lives” (freeforlifeintl.org). Due to countless reports of discrimination and total unfair treatment of the Untouchables, they are sadly significantly more likely to become victims of sex trafficking or being exposed to this type of dangerous act. The only way we can truly put an end to extreme poverty in India is to end caste discrimination against those with little social mobility who had no say in deciding their future and who continue to be viewed as nothing because of their social class ranking.
While India is one of the main countries that still follows a caste systems ideologies and beliefs, there are plenty of other countries that believe and still use this system. Maybe those in India or other countries with power can argue that the system works just fine and that change should not be made. Obviously the power, fame, and money has gone to their head because we know that this system always seems to ignore an important concept in life. That concept is free will, which is the “ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded”. Everyone should be allowed the choice of free will, and they shouldn’t be forced to give that up because of a countries leaders and their blatant ignorance on the way the world has changed and evolved from the past. Maybe before this type of system could have worked better, but we’ve evolved into much smarter people than our ancestors that we truly are beginning to think for ourselves. In a Brave New World, we saw that the people placed into alphas, betas, gammas, deltas and epsilons were placed there through modifications made to them before ever being born. In some situations in the world, people before ever being conceived are already placed into a higher or lower class ranking due to their parents or ancestors. In the book they are placed there to make everything balanced and to show that society could thrive on keeping certain people at the bottom and used like a doormat. In the real world while some people are run all over, there are people fighting for them to be given the same equal rights and opportunities as those born into wealth and success.