Social Scientist. v 4, no. 45 (April 1976) p. 46.


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Report

Caste Prejudice among Indian Touth

Sheo Math Singh and Ram Maresh Prasad

THIS study was aimed at assessing the extent and patterns of caste prejudice among Indian youth in relation to rural-urban setting, socio-economic status and sex difference. Its findings indicate that: (i) rural population is more exposed to caste prejudice than the urban; (ii) urban untouchables exhibited more prejudice than the rural; (iii) intensity of the bias was maintained among high and low caste members almost equally and (iv) girls showed more caste discrimination than boys.

In the political and social crises which have gripped the country, casteism plays a particularly vicious role. Interpersonal and intergroup relations bear its unmistakable overtones. Caste has been recognized as a potent consideration in social life,1 being a unique feature of Indian society dating from the distant past. It has been conceptualized as a "collection of families associated with specific occupation and claiming common descent from a mythological ancestor."2 In tins system the role of each caste was specified. Four castes, namely Brahmin (priests), Kshat-riya (warriors or rulers), Vaisya (merchants and tradesmen) and Sliudra (workers) got split again into a myriad ofsubcastes. Social contacts between the castes were so rigidly constrained as to be virtually impossible. The consequences were disastrous. Indian society lost its social dynamism. Social mobility was adversely affected by atomized caste, family affiliations, job allocation and social acceptance depending on caste. Moreover, the low-caste Sliudras (workers) were denied equality of job opportunity based on qualifications and abilities.

Public transportation, urbanization and industrialization have broken down many caste rules. It is said that

caste in its traditional sense is weakening. Publicly it is being assailed from all sides. Legislative and administrative measures have been directed to eradicate it. Traditional rules governing commensality and interpersonal relations between different castes have been greatly modified. While it is weakening as a social force, it has suddenly acquired unique significance as a political force, something it never



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