Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Caste System, an essay

Caste system has been very integral part of the every Indian's thinking from time immemorial. There have been lot of arguments about the importance and impact of "Caste System" on the society. Most (so called) modernist individuals say, "Caste system was bad" and identify that as the root cause for most of the flaws in our society today. Most (so called) UN-modernistic individuals who still stick by it, just follow the system without commenting on the Good/Bad impacts of the system on the society.

The reasons why, certain section of society stick by caste system and certain section are dead against is the matter for a volumes of books. This is just an essay and certainly will not delve into the details of the good/bad of the society.


The author has not read/researched the volumes and volumes of content available on this subject. The thoughts mentioned in this essay are purely coming from the life as seen by the author. The essay is theory of the author and might not have any practical relevance/significance to life.

Any individual offended by the thoughts are requested to scold the author for his stupidity (for that matter any characterstic) and ignore the bad feeling.


In the Pre-historic era the primitive individuals living in the Indian sub-continent faced a challenge with increasing population of their Tribe. To define the era, this was exactly during the time when primitive humans grouped together and moved from hunting to agriculture to earn there food.

How do we efficiently structure our people in the tribe to efficiently lead life?
How do we get the best out of people?

These are the sort of questions which arose in some Pre-historic minds. Some of the intelligent or probably "important people" created a committee of members from all sections of society to find a solution. This committee after various deliberations with arguments and "counter arguments" came up with a solution. Solution was more of a efficient way to segregate the society to improve the productivity of the Tribe as a whole. (Can be equated to organisation restructure in corporate world).

The solution was called "Caste System". The objective was to "increase the productivity of the tribe"

Shudra - People who would do physical labour to generate food for Tribe
Vaishya - People who would do commerce/trading and manage the resources of the Tribe
Kshatriya - People who would maintain the safety of the Tribe
Brahmana - People who would gain and spread knowledge across the Tribe

This committee of elite members also created a set of guidelines to maintain the segregation and to increase the maintainability of the Caste System.

There should be inter-breeding in each Caste: Keeps the focus of the whole family on the goal. Will help in continuous knowledge sharing and improvement (CMM Level 5) from "Grand Parents" to "Parents" to "Individual" to "Offspring" as a tree.

Each Caste will live in as a group in settlement: This will help the effective communication/learning in the group. Will help in coming up with efficient society processes to reach the goal.

Brahmins have to get there food through begging: Since this is the group concentrated on knowledge. People had questions on how will they earn their food? The concept of alms was introduced so that each brahmin doesn't have to worry about mundane things like food/shelter when they have to go in search of knowledge.

.................... and more and more guidelines were put in place to increase the effectiveness of the system.

As the time passed, people in the neighbouring tribes identified that, "This tribe with Caste System was working very effectively".

There security was the best.
They produced more food.
They had invented new and easy way to do things.
They had more money.
The individuals in the group are happy.
Very less in-fighting between members of the tribe

It is just that, all the benefits of efficient use of resources are easily visible to everybody else easily. Though MBA's probably can explain the concept in a better way, people do not need MBA to understand such simple principle (focus).

Moving from Pre-historic to historic era. The caste system was widely popular structure, most of Indian sun-continent adapted the system according to the nuances of there group. As the life became more complicated with increase in population, new inventions, etc... The intelligent breed of the historic people, broke the Caste System to different Sub-Castes and new castes got created.

For E.g. people who make ornaments, people who work with wood and make equipments, people who work with metals, people who cook, people involved in different art forms, etc..etc.. All the above were groups identified, either as a caste or a sub-caste. The principle of grouping remained the same, "Increase in productivity through focus". Effective knowledge sharing etc. etc.

Like any process or system implemented, there were individuals and groups who have mis-used the system. There would be volumes of paper available on "how caste system was mis-used?" subject. This essay will not delve into this subject because of loads of material available. A point to note that, various groups have increased the value of Caste System also, by adapting the system effectively to different environments.

Indian Sub-Continent was the most sought after destination for people across the world and was a economic super power during the historic times. It was world leader in science, astronomy, astrology, arts, music etc. etc. One of the important factors probably was because of the efficient structuring of the society through the "Caste System".

This is the History of the "Caste System"!!!

Caste System Today:

With the rapid industrialisation of the world, the modern human society has become more complex. The type of professions have increased and population has also increased at a very good rate. And within the Indian environment, though there is "Caste System" concept which still exists. But the basic principles of the caste system has been long lost. Probably, rapid changes in the society which occurred due to industrialisation, was not adapted into Caste System effectively.

Today, structure of the society has moved from "Work" base to another complex base called as "Money". To explain, the grouping of the people is more derived from the "Amount of Money" individuals have rather than what work they do. "Work" base grouping though exists a little, has a very less significance in today's world.

Without going into too much of mind taxing why? what? how? questions, let us try to ask, what would have been the different flavours of caste in today's world?

The answers are startling!!!!

Police: Very aggressive group of individuals, characterised by, use of foul language, abusive individuals, corruption, pot belly, decent money, etc..etc.. Typically can be seen every where. There is a big conspiracy theory saying, Police are actually "Kali Yuga" messengers of God. Some of the Sub-Castes belonging to this are "Traffic Police", "Crime Police", "Constable", "Inspector" etc..

Software Engineers: Very stupid group of individuals who think, they are intelligent just because, some companies pay them more salary compared to other professions. Characterised by, branded cloths, big jargon's, colorful hair, air of confidence (coming out of ignorance?), Funny accent, ignorance of any language, etc..etc..etc.. Typically can be seen around fancy hotels, shopping malls, and funny resorts called as offices. Sub-Castes are, "Java", "Support Engineers", "Microsoft", "Project Managers" etc..

Politicians: Funny group of individuals, who act in this big entertainment show called as democracy. Always can be seen in idiot box in multiple channels. Characterised by, Big pot bellies (bigger than Police), funny smile, stupid smile, tired smile, these guys can smile in whatever situation, Ultra rich lifestyle, big cars, white cloths, big talks, stupid talks, intelligently stupid talks... oh! these guys can talk on anything and everything under the sun. Typically can be seen around, police stations, courts, in TV etc.. No Sub-Castes. Very solid group of individuals, with very similar principles and work ethics. (You know what :-))

Auto Drivers: Very irritated group of individuals who are always irritated with god knows what! :( Characterized by, mouth fights, foul words, extra meter charges, never come to where they are requested to come to etc.. etc... Typically can be seen around everywhere smoking bidi, cigarettes in road corner.

there would have been other castes also, please do not worry if your caste is not included in the list. It is just that I, the author, is so lazy that I can't put effort on research. It would have been interesting to see, with this structure, if the efficiency of the society would have increased? Unfortunately, modern humans do not have the opportunity.

Coming back the factual world, though "Money" still rules the structuring of the groups in modern human society, but, principles of "grouping on work" basis is still in practice. For example, an software engineer would generally chose a software engineer as a life partner/friend. Auto drivers generally hang out together in a group. Politicians live as a segregated part of the society.

Probably "Work" base gives an intellectual-match for the people to have a bonding with each other. or probably there is something else? Probably "Money" based grouping is the most approriate for modern humans. Probably there is completely different "base" which will arrise out of ever evolving human mind.

Something for the modern humans to group together and think on.

-- Madhukar Hebbar


Sudhi said...

sooper guru ......... good thought :)

Also, interestingly, the politician caste is apt and very truthful in reality.

But, it is worth mentioning that still a major percentage of people don't know what a computer is ;-)

And, it would be perfect if you can throw some light on castes like "NRIs", "duddu beku kelasa alla" etc ... ;-)

Atmaram said...

good essay
Very good taughts
your caste system is too good

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...


You have hijacked my ideas and thoughts... Now on wards I have to be tight lipped on my ideas during Friday evenings :-)

Madhukar Hebbar said...

With all due respect VSS. This has been my theory from a long time now ;-) I can get you proofs for this also...

If you also had the same idea.. Unfortunate mate. Speed up and right all your ideas. Who knows what might get hijacked next :-)

Sudhakar said...

Super Guru and can some one write about "thinking of future generations"

Really excellent essays Buddy.

Keshava said...

Nice Maga, but I hate this caste system for only 1 reason - "Reservations":-(!! But, as you rightly mentioned, the actual purpose of the "Caste system" is really good, which is forgotten by the society, long back!!

Madhukar Hebbar said...

thanks for all your love and affection. Helps me give the josh to write more. :-)