The most oppressive system, the caste system plays a very important role in Indian society. It is a unique system that has initiated social stratification in Indian society. All the religions in India have their own caste differences. For .ex. Hinduism is divided into thousands of castes and sub-castes which find their origin in the Varna system of the ancient Rigveda. The Varna system classifies Hindus into four main castes : Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. The most atrocious practice of the caste system was untouchability which though hardly found in urban areas , still exists in rural areas.
The caste system as followed in India is rigid and does not allow inter-caste marriage. The upper caste looks down upon the lower castes and this differentiation results in hatred and violence.
In India there is excessive politicization of the caste system. Organizations and political parties have formed to extract economic and social gains for themselves and the castes they support. Northern states have experienced caste related violence from time to time. Politicians in U.P., Maharashtra, Karnataka have played the caste card regularly to come to power.
The reservation policy accepted by the V.P.Singh government has brought in it’s wake a lot of social unrest. There have been anti-reservation movements led by doctors and students in recent years that feel the policy has worked against their interests. The government, in order to uplift the backward castes, offers free education, reservation of jobs in the public sector, seats in the Parliament and also seats in the higher educational institutions teaching professional courses. However over the years the system has been exploited by those who are powerful and rich rather than benefitting the truly marginalized sections of society.