India is a country that has historically been known for its diversity. In the same way, it is also known for its caste system. The origin of the Indian caste system is out of scope for this post. What I am going to be talking about here is about in what way the existence of the caste system is beneficial, and in what way it is harmful.
Since we are not going to dive into the origin of the caste system, we will not be dwelling on how it came into being. But we do know that this hereditary social structure was put forth by people who wanted to force their own superiority over people whom they considered to have a profession of lesser status. This is true at least when it comes to India as we have castes such as Nadar, Vanniyar, Thevar, Brahmin and so on, which have their historical roots from one common similar profession.
Before we go about and talk about the benefits and harms of having such a thing as caste, let us begin with a fundamental truth which needs to be said.
People of all castes have equal human value
This requires special mention especially since we are in a country where people have been killed and treated as slaves, just based on the caste they were appointed to based on their hereditary lineage. India has seen a large number of caste related violence, a handful which can be found online, and many thousands and thousands which go unwritten.
As Christians the only thing that matters to us is what the Bible says about this. So what does the Bible say about this?
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”Romans 10:12 (King James Version)
“But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”1 Corinthians 1:24 (King James Version)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”Romans 1:16 (King James Version)
According to the Bible, the only thing that you have to do in order to become a child of God is believe on Jesus Christ(watch my video How to Get Eternal Life in YouTube). Nothing more, nothing less. And the Bible also makes it very clear that it is to every one that believeth. Not just the Jews or just the tribe of Levi, or people of any other specific ethnicity. Salvation is available to all who believe.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”John 3:16 (King James Version)
This is true in the New Testament as well as in the Old Testament as we see strangers coming and believing on the God of the Bible in the Old Testament. And although you might look at the Old Testament and think that the Bible is a racist book for God to only be with a single nation(Israel, later the Jews), only after reading through the entire Bible would you get the big picture.
The Bible says in Romans chapter 2:
The actual Jews are therefore not the ones who belong to a group in the hereditary social structure, but the ones who believe God for salvation.
So what does being a child of God or a Christian have to do with equality? The answer is simple. By just being a Christian, you have a royal priesthood.
So basically it doesn’t matter what caste or creed you are born to. If you believe on Christ, you have a royal priesthood. Not just any priesthood, but a royal priesthood making us part of the royal family of God.
People should be judged by beliefs, values and character
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”Amos 3:3 (King James Version)
Every organization with more than one person requires there to be an agreement between its members relating to how they would want to operate in order to maintain stability. If each member of the organization decides to do his own thing, then the entire thing would end up becoming a mess.
An organization does not have to be a corporate entity, cause even friendship, marriage and family are some examples of an organization. When you take friendship, in order for there to be a good relationship, there has to be something that is common between the two. It could of course start with surface-level things like hobbies, favourite TV-show or something in that line, but the primary things that needs to be looked for are beliefs, values and character.
Caste doesn’t even come into the picture when you talk about friendship. But there is still a greater bond when two people are from the same kind of upbringing, than when they are from totally different kinds of upbringings.
Birds of a feather flock togetherUnknown
People tend to mingle with people with whom they have things in common. So as an example, when two people are of the same caste, the thing in common that they have is not just the caste itself, but the values that the people of the caste have been known to possess. Different groups of people have different values. You tend to like someone more if they have the same value as yours than if they don’t.
For this reason I do not completely disagree with the same-caste marriage mentality that many parents have. If you marry someone from your own caste you are more likely to have things common with them. Labels are good in this case as you would like to have additional information about the other person, other than the fact that they are a human being. This of course doesn’t mean that common values is not possible with someone who is from a different caste or a different nationality altogether. We see this rising with the ubiquitous use of the internet, as there is widespread knowledge transfer. That being said, there should be no doubt when choosing between a Bible-believing Christian from a different ethnicity, and a Hindu/Buddhist/Sikh from the same caste, when it comes to choosing whom to marry. Your why comes first, and that why is based on your beliefs.
So at the end of the day, what matters are the beliefs, values and character(in that order).
Reservation on the basis of Caste doesn’t make sense
Anybody who has appeared for IIT JEE Mains and Advanced knows how much of a major role reservation plays on— whether a person gets into the top IITs, or doesn’t even get an NIT. I’m not complaining because I am technically from a backward caste, which means that I had an edge over others when it came to grabbing a seat(not that I did, which is a story for another day :P).
But the issue that I want to bring forth is that, first of all, caste just by itself is not a good measure for determining people who are poor and who lack the opportunity to rise up the education ladder. If there is to be a system for determining people who are financially unable to rise up, then you’ll have to look at their family’s income and not their family’s gene. Secondly, even the basic idea of reserving certain seats for certain people, even though with good intentions, has a bad effect. By having the bar set so much lower than the normal for certain people, the group of people who benefit by this have no reason to improve their economic status and hence stop experiencing these benefits. Inevitably this makes them lazy.
But this does not work in the real world. When you look at life in general, nothing is fair and dandy. Anything that is of real value is earned by hard work and a strong character. You only value something when you’ve worked for it. Not when someone hands it over to you. By simply giving something away to a group of people who are already not doing much to rise up, you are rewarding the lazy.
Crux of the matter: I do not believe or support the caste system. I feel that it is dying one way or the other, and will eventually come to an end(for the good). But I do oppose the view that beliefs, values and character don’t matter when it comes to forming interpersonal relationships. They do matter, and in fact that is the thing which is way more important than having a beautiful face.