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Globalization And The Caste System In India

3744 words - 15 pages

Globalization and the Caste System in India

Mimi Winters


India has experienced significant economic growth as a direct result of globalization even during the current global economic crisis. Yet many argue that this success does not reach all levels of Indian society. Indeed, some argue that globalization has actually had a negative impact on the lowest members of Indian society, the Dalits. This paper explores both sides of the argument by briefly explaining India’s 3,000-year-old caste system and its influence or lack of influence on the reduction of poverty among the Dalits.

Globalization and the Caste System in India

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However, what has been the impact of this economic growth on India’s social or caste system, in particular, the Dalits, the poorest of its social class? Why is India continuing to experience such economic growth in the midst of its other pressing problems? This paper will examine the enigma of India by examining the effects of globalization on India’s caste system, in particular, its effects on its lowest members, the Dalits.
The Enigma of India
India is indeed an enigma in that it is experiencing such charismatic economic growth while continuing to struggle with pressing political, social, and environmental problems (Central Intelligence Agency, 2012). Part of the enigma is that India continues to believe in an ancient and unequal caste system which separates its citizens into categories by both employment and social relevance (Teltumbde, 2010). The Central Intelligence Agency recognizes the enigma of India. They discuss this puzzle when they point out the following:
In January 2011, India assumed a nonpermanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term. Despite pressing problems such as significant overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and widespread corruption, rapid economic development is fueling India's rise on the world stage. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2012)

Nevertheless, these pressing problems do not mean that globalization had not brought economic success to India (Wax, 2011). A brief examination of a few of India’s problems will present a better understanding of why India’s global economic success amidst its caste social order is considered such an enigma.
India has the world’s largest democracy (Devraj, 2004). Yet, it is still devastated by overpopulation and poverty. With its recent economic success, it has seen 400 million of its citizen’s move into the middle class, which in actuality is just a small percentage of its population. Nonetheless, as its middle class has increased, so has its poverty statistics, primarily due to one of its major problems, overpopulation. It has experienced a huge population explosion in recent years (2004, para. 1). The 2012 population statistics indicate that India’s population is at 1.2 billion with 617 million males, 572 million females and a youth population under the age of 25 at 64.7%, the youngest of any nation (Central Intelligence Agency, 2012, para. 4). Of the 64.7% of Indians under the age of 25, 10.5% of them are unemployed. Hence, although experiencing increased global economic profit, it has also experienced an increase in population and an increase in unemployment, which has subsequently led to an increase in poverty. In the middle of India’s population, unemployment, and poverty increase, are members of varying social order or caste, which is based on a system of social stratification. Many refer to this social stratification as India’s caste system.

India’s Caste System
What is a caste system in a society? John J....

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