India 2008: The Caste System

“The caste system is still a major issue in India. Traditionally there were four categories: the Brahmins, the priests, at the top; the Kshatriya, the warrior caste; the Vaishya, the merchant class; and the Sudras, the people who did manual labor. Beneath them were the Untouchables, those who dealt with things that are unclean. There’s always been some mobility—more and more so today. But for the Untouchables, or Dalits (meaning ‘the oppressed’), as they’re often referred to now, things are pretty bad. In certain parts of India, there are very strong political parties associated with the lower castes, who vote against the Brahminic parties. But while the lower castes have some power and influence, they’re benefiting little from the economic boom.”

Siddhartha Deb is writing a book about wealth and poverty in India.