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Caste systems are hereditary systems of social class in many parts of the world. Today, it is most commonly associated with the Indian caste system and the Varna in Hinduism. In a caste society, the assignment of individuals to places in the social hierarchy is decided by birth or justified by custom. This classification is based on social occupation, endogamy, social class, and social group.


. Although one should be careful in understanding the Anglo-Saxon context from which this interpretation is derived, Caste is described by the Oxford English Dictionary as both,

"Each of the hereditary classes of Hindu society, distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity or pollution and of social status," and "Any exclusive social class".[1]

Hinduism is often now associated with the word caste. The term caste was first used by the Portuguese during their 16th century voyages to India. The term caste comes from the Spanish and Portugueste word "casta" which means "race", "lineage", "breed".[2] The term "jati" is used by Indians to describe the current caste system in India.


Anthropologists use the term "caste" more generally. They use it to refer to a social group that is endogamous and occupationally specialized. Such groups are common in highly stratified societies with a very low degree of social mobility.[How to reference and link to summary or text] That is to say, a caste system is one in which an individual's occupation and marriage prospects are determined by his or her birth and heritage. In its broadest sense, examples of caste-based societies include colonial Latin America under Spanish and Portuguese rule (see Casta).

Vedas and other Indian scriptures speak of 'varna', classification of the human society in general based on 'guna', or personality traits, and 'Jati', or tribe. In "A New History of India," by Stanley Wolpert, "[s]uch a process of expansion, settled agricultural production, and pluralistic integration of new people led to the development of India's uniquely complex system of social organization, which was mistakenly labeled the caste system by the Portuguese. For what the Portuguese [...] called "caste" in the sixteenth century was, in fact the Rig Vedic "class" (varna) system of Brahmanas (scholars and fire priests), Kshastriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (merchants and agriculturists), and Shudras (artisans), whereas what Indians mean by caste is really a much more narrowly limited, endogamous group related by "birth" (jati)." It should be noted that the Vedic classification of a society is universal and is not limited to India. Further, the Vedic classification (varna categorization of society based on nature or profession) is actually non-hereditary, individual, and can be changed by learning or practice. The word jati (tribe) is used to describe any community, and not specific to any one religion. A person's jati (community or tribe or caste) is the social group (with its own culture, religious practices, traditions, language, customs, regional origin, etc...) one is born into, and is hereditary.

There are countless castes or communities (jatis) in India. Many communities were known for certain occupations. Before universal education, as in the rest of the world, job skills were often transferred within families and communities. Those communities (jatis) known for a particular occupation or related occupations that could be categorized into one of the four varnas (scholars/fire priests, warrior, merchant/agriculturist, or artisan), were over time known as belonging to one of the four varnas. However, it should be noted that all temple priests are not Brahmins, but all fire (Yajna) priests have to be.

A Caste's, or Jati's, association with a profession, or varna, can change with the chosen professions of its members. Due to tribal, racial, religious and ethnic affiliations, one almost always married within the community one was born into. Each community governs itself without proselytizing, interfering or imposing their values on other communities, and this live and let live attitude is the main reason why so many communities were able to maintain their diversity while living among other communities in India. It should be noted that the word for Religion is "matam" in many Indian Languages including Sanskrit and Tamil. "Matam" means opinion. And Hinduism gave the right to opinion to everyone. This "live and let live attitude" is a direct result of the Hindu concept of "right to opinion/Matam" as are the numerous versions of God and the numerous religious texts some which even question the existence of God.

India was occupied by Turkish-Mongol invaders from about 1000 AD to about 1700. They were replaced by European invaders, mainly British, from about 1700 to 1947. During that millennium no Turkish-Mongol or European ruler ever enforced any privileges to the so called upper castes. They of course enforced special privileges to their own kind: Turkish-Mongol invaders to Turkish-Mongol and European invaders to Europeans. Even after 700 years of Turkish-Mongol rule of India, India was one of the richest countries accounting for about 25% of world trade.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Estates in Europe

In medieval Europe, the estates of the realm were a caste system.

The population was divided into nobility, clergy, and the commoners. In some regions, the commoners were divided into burghers, peasants or serfs, and the estateless.

Although originally based on occupation, one's estate was eventually inherited, because of low social mobility.

Castes in Africa

Main article: Caste system in Africa

Countries in Africa who have societies with caste systems within their borders include Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The Osu caste system in Nigeria and southern Cameroon are derived from indigenous religious beliefs and discriminate against the "Osus" people as "owned by deities" and outcasts.

Similarly, the Mande societies in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana have caste systems that divide society by occupation and ethnic ties.The Mande caste system regards the "Jonow" slave castes as inferior. Similarly, the Wolof caste system in Senegal is divided into three main groups, the Geer (freeborn/nobles), jaam (slaves and slave descendents) and the outcasted neeno (people of caste).

Other caste systems in Africa include the Borana caste system of NE Kenya with the Watta as the lowest caste, the "Ubuhake" castes in Rwanda and Burundi, and the Hutu undercastes in Rwanda who committed genocide on the Tutsi overlords in the now infamous Rwandan Genocide.

Balinese caste system

Main article: Balinese caste system

The caste system in Bali is similar to the Indian caste system; however, India's caste system is far more complicated than Bali's, and there are only four Balinese castes:

  • Sudras - peasants making up more than 90% of Bali's population
  • Wesias - the caste of merchants
  • Satrias - the warrior caste, it also included some nobility and kings
  • Brahmans - holy men and priests

Different dialects of the Balinese language are used to address members of a different caste. The Balinese caste system does not have untouchables.

Castes in India

Main article: Indian caste system

Caste system among Hindus

Main article: Indian caste system

To say "caste in India" links two categories - the varna (class/group) and the jati (tribe). Prior to European colonization by Portugal and Britain, the Portuguese word caste was not used to describe the Hindu term Varna and the Indian term Jati in India.

Varna as enunciated in the Hindu sacred scriptures of Vedas and the non-sacred Manusmriti text, seems to have categorised the people in the Indian society based on qualities and occupation. It formed ideologies of identity and status and may have been open to a changing process of the coming and going of groups. Broadly speaking, the varnas are Brahmins (priests, scholars and teachers), Kshatriya (warriors and rulers), Vaisya (traders and agriculturists), and Sudra (manual workers) and the Untouchables, which were called pariahs. Brahmins have usually been described by the western orientalists as the priestly class, but this is not entirely accurate. Indeed a temple priest need not be a Brahmin, but a Yajna priest always was.

The Greeks and the Muslims showed a better understanding when they described Brahmins as the philosophers. The people who fell outside the four varnas included the Dalits (originally a part of the upper varna who fell out because they allegedly did not abide by the rules of society), adivasis (because they were not a part of mainstream society), and foreigners (all called Mlechhas), probably because they did not subscribe to the Vedas and the rules and values of Vedic society. At the bottom of the social scale there were also those usually referred to Untouchables.

Over time though, economic and social factors led to the consolidation of the existing social ranks which became a traditional, hereditary system of social stratification. It operated through thousands of endogamous groups, termed jāti. Though there were several kinds of variations across the breadth of India, the jati was the effective community within which one married and spent most of one's personal life. Often it was the community (jati) which one turned to for support and also the community (jati) which one sought to promote. The community (jati/tribe) system, usually with politically and economically derived hierarchies, has been followed across the Indian continent with regional variations across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Different religious denominations have traditionally followed different kinds of community (jati) stratification that has nothing to do with their respective religion. With the assertion of "caste" identities under the British empire, communities (jatis) sought to place themselves within varna and mobility in reference to it was not uncommon. Sanskritization is an example of this. While the prevalence of the community (jati) social ranking has declined significantly over the course of the twentieth century, remote and rural areas of the subcontinent continue to subscribe to community ranking.

Contrary to popular belief, historically there was a great deal of mobility and intermingling between Indian communities, and among Hindu varna categories, other than Brahmins, largely based on economic or political status of the concerned group. While community (jati) endogamy remains quite strong and though a diverse and rich range of communities is healthy and valuable, ongoing linking of communities to a particular social status is perhaps the biggest obstacle to the process of dissolution of inherited social status. However, one significant blow to inherited social status in India came about with the abolition of royalty when India gained its independence from the British Empire. Ironically, India is in this regard ahead of several democratic European countries that still have kings, queens, princes, princesses, including its former colonial master Britain. The remaining struggle in India is to separate the rest of the communities regardless of the religion they follow from any social rank, while allowing for the uniqueness of each community.

The Brahmins were enjoined by their scriptures and texts, including the Manusmriti, to live in poverty and to shun possessions and temporal power and to instead devote themselves to the study and teaching of scriptures and other knowledge, to pure conduct, and to spiritual growth. In fact, they usually subsisted on alms from the rest of the society, including from those in the Shudra varna. This is an important point in understanding the difference between caste and class, which are usually equated in the westernized mind, with concepts of economic hierarchies and dominating power structures deeply embedded in its world-view and belief systems[3]

Some activists consider that the "caste" (tribes and jatis) is a form of racial discrimination.[4][5] This allegation has been rejected by many sociologists such as Andre Béteille, who writes that treating caste as a form of racism is "politically mischievous" and worse, "scientifically nonsense" since there is no discernible difference in the racial characteristics between Brahmins and Scheduled Castes such as the jatav. He writes that "Every social group cannot be regarded as a race simply because we want to protect it against prejudice and discrimination".[6]

The Indian government denies the claims of equivalency between Caste and Racial discrimination, pointing out that the issues of social status is essentially intra-racial and intra-cultural.The view of the "caste" system as "static and unchanging" has been disputed. Sociologists describe how the perception of the "caste" system as a static and textual stratification has given way to the perception of the "caste" system as a more processual, emprical and contextual stratification. Others have applied theoretical models to explain mobility and flexibility in the "caste system" in India.[7] According to these scholars, groups of lower-caste individuals could seek to elevate the status of their caste by attempting to emulate the practices of higher castes.

Sociologist M. N. Srinivas has also debated the question of rigidity in Caste.[8][9] For details see sanskritization.

Caste system among Indian Christians

Main article: Caste system among Indian Christians

That some converts to Christianity have retained the old caste practices establishes that caste system is inherent to no religion in particular but rather a socio-economic demarcation with potential discriminatory practices. In particular, Catholic Dalit Christians in certain parts of India are regarded as an undercaste by upper-caste Catholic Christian clergy, nuns, and Hindus and are discriminated against in society.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Modern status of the caste system

The inherited social status is gradually relaxing, especially in metropolitan and other major urban areas, due to higher penetration of high education, co-existence of all communities and lesser knowledge about caste system due to alienation with rural roots of people. But in the countryside and small towns, this system is still very rigid. However, the total elimination of caste system seems distant, if ever possible, due to caste politics.

The Government of India has officially documented castes and subcastes, primarily to determine those deserving reservation (positive discrimination in education and jobs) through the census. The Indian reservation system relies entirely on quotas. The Government lists consist of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes:

Scheduled castes (SC)
Scheduled castes generally consist of former "untouchables" (the term "Dalit" is now preferred). Present population is 16% of total population of India i.e. around 160 million. For example, the Delhi state has 49 castes listed as SC.[10]
Scheduled tribes (ST)
Scheduled tribes generally consist of tribal groups. Present population is 8% of total population of India i.e. around 80 million.
Other Backward Classes (OBC)
The Mandal Commission covered more than 3000 castes under OBC Category and stated that OBCs form around 52% of the Indian population. However, the National Sample Survey puts the figure at 32%.[11] There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBCs in India. It is generally estimated to be sizable, but many believe that it is lower than the figures quoted by either the Mandal Commission and the National Sample Survey.[12]

The caste-based reservations in India has led to wide-spread protests, with many complaining of reverse discrimination against the forward castes.

Caste politics

Main article: Caste politics in India

Mahatma Gandhi, B. R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru had radically different approaches to caste especially over constitutional politics and the status of "untouchables".[13] Till the mid-1970s, the politics of independent India was largely dominated by economic issues and questions of corruption. But since the 1980s, caste has emerged as a major issue in the Politics of India.[13]

The Mandal Commission was established in 1979 to "identify the socially or educationally backward",[14] and to consider the question of seat reservations and quotas for people to redress caste discrimination. In 1980, the commission's report affirmed the affirmative action practice under Indian law whereby members of lower castes were given exclusive access to a certain portion of government jobs and slots in public universities. When V. P. Singh Government tried to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission in 1989, massive protests were held throughout the country. Many alleged that the politicians were trying to benefit personally from caste-based reservations for purely pragmatic electoral purposes.

Many political parties in India have openly indulged in caste-based votebank politics. Parties such as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal claim that they are representing the backward castes, and rely primarily on OBC support, often in alliance with Dalit and Muslim support to win the elections.[15]

Castes in Japan

Main article: Burakumin

Japan historically subscribed to a feudal caste system. While modern law has officially abolished the caste hierarchy, there are reports of discrimination against the Buraku or Burakumin undercastes, historically referred to by the insulting term "Eta".[16] Studies comparing the caste systems in India and Japan have been performed, with similar discriminations against the Burakumin as the Dalits. The Burakumin are regarded as "ostracized".[17] The burakumin are one of the main minority groups in Japan, along with the Ainu of Hokkaidō and residents of Korean and Chinese descent.

Castes in Korea

See also: Baekjeong

The baekjeong were an "untouchable" outcaste group of Korea, often compared with the burakumin of Japan and the dalits of India and Nepal. The term baekjeong itself means "a butcher", but later changed into "common citizens" to change the caste system so that the system would be without untouchables. In the early part of the Goryeo period (918 - 1392), the outcaste groups were largely settled in fixed communities. However, the Mongol invasion left Korea in disarray and anomie, and these groups began to become nomadic. Other subgroups of the baekjeong are the chaein and the hwachae.[How to reference and link to summary or text] During the Joseon dynasty, they were specific professions like basket weaving and performing executions. They were also considered in moral violation of Buddhist principles, which lead Koreans to see work involving meat as polluting and sinful, even if they saw the consumption as acceptable.

The opening of Korea to foreign Christian missionary activity in the late 19th century saw some improvement in the status of the baekjeong; However, everyone was not equal under the Christian congregation, and protests erupted when missionaries attempted to integrate them into worship services, with non-baekjeong finding such an attempt insensitive to traditional notions of hierarchical advantage.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Also around the same time, the baekjeong began to resist the open social discrimination that existed against them.[18] hey focused on social and economic injustices affecting the baekjeong, hoping to create an egalitarian Korean society. Their efforts included attacking social discrimination by the upper class, authorities, and "commoners" and the use of degrading language against children in public schools.[19]

See also: Yangban

With the unification of the three kingdoms in the seventh century and the foundation of the Goryeo dynasty in the Middle Ages, Koreans systemized its own native caste system. At the top was the two official classes, the Yangban. Yangban means "two classes". It was composed of scholars (Munban) and warriors (Muban). Within the Yangban class, the Scholars (Munban) enjoyed a significant social advantage over the warrior (Muban) class, until the Muban Rebellion in 1170. Muban ruled Korea under successive Warrior Leaders until the Mongol Conquest in 1253. Sambyeolcho, the private Army of the ruling Choe dynasty, carried on the struggle against the Mongols until 1273, when they were finally wiped out to the last man in Chejudo. With the destruction of the warrior class, the Munban gained ascendancy. In 1392, with the foundation of Joseon dynasty, the full ascendancy of munban over muban was final. With the establishment of Confucianism as the state philosophy of Joseon, the Muban would never again gain its former social standing in Korean society.

Beneath the Yangban class were the Jung-in. They were the technicians. They served in lower level government bureaucracy. They were literate, yet were unable to rise into full bureaucratic positions despite passing the gwageo (central government entrance) exam. This class was small and specialized.

Beneath the Jung-in were the Chun min. They were the landless peasants. These people composed the majority of Korean society until the 1600s. They were illiterate, and forbidden from marrying into the Yangban class. During the Japanese invasion of 1592, as many government genealogical record was burnt, many of them fabricated their social origin and moved into the Yangban class. With the Manchu invasion of Korea in the 1627 and 1637 and numerous peasant rebellions that followed, the ranks of Yangban families swelled up to more than 60% of the whole country by the late 1800s.

Beneath the Cheonmin were the Sangmin, also called Ssangnom in the vernacular. These were the servant class.

Underneath them all were the Baekjeong. The meaning today is that of butcher. They originate from the Khitan invasion of Korea in the 1000s. As they were defeated, instead of sending them back to Manchuria, The Goryeo government retianed them as warriors, spread out throughout Korea. As they were nomads skilled in hunting and tanning of leather, their skill was initially valued by Koreans. Over the centuries, their foreign origins were forgotten, and were only remembered as butchers and tanners.

With Gabo reform of 1896, the caste system of Korea was officially abolished. However, the Yangban families carried on traditional education and formal mannerisms into the 20th century. With the "democratization" of 1990s in South Korea, remnant of such mannerisms and classism is now heavily frowned upon in the South Korean society, replaced by the myth of egalitarianism. However, with rampant capitalism, a new aristocracy is slowly developing, caused by a major gap in income among the people of Korea, with the resulting differences in education and mannerism.

Castes in Latin America

Main article: Casta

Many Latin American countries have caste systems based on classification by race and race mixture. An entire nomenclature developed, including the familiar terms "mulato", "mestizo", and "zambo" (whence "sambo"). The caste system was imposed during colonial rule by the Spanish who had practiced a form of caste system in Spain prior to the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims. While many Latin American countries have long since rendered the system officially illegal through legislation, usually at the time of independence from Spain, prejudice based on degrees of perceived racial distance from Spanish ancestry combined with one's socioeconomic status remain, an echo of the colonial caste system. The United States and many Caribbean countries also share similar caste hierarchies based on race and race mixture.[20][21]

Nepalese caste system

Main article: Nepalese caste system

The Nepalese caste system resembles that of the Indian Jāti system with numerous Jāti divisions with a Varna system superimposed.

Caste system in Pakistan

Main article: Caste system among South Asian Muslims

A caste system similar to that in India is practiced in Pakistan, although with wide variability since the concept of caste is not recognized in Islam. In the absence of "classical" castes, typically the proxies used are ethnic background (Sindhi, Punjabi, Pusthun, Balochi, Mohajir etc.), tribal affiliations and religious denominations or sects (Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya, Ismaili, Christian, Hindu etc.).

While caste/social stratification information can be found relating to specific areas in Pakistan, it is not known if any studies have compared how relatively prevalent such attitudes are amongst the various ethnic groups, religious sects and geographies. Also, it is not known if any tracking studies have documented changes in these social attitudes.

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that there are quite significant differences in how social stratification is practised within, and between, the various ethnic/religious groups in Pakistan.

The social stratification among Muslims in the "Swat" area of North Pakistan has been meaningfully compared to the Caste system in India. The society is rigidly divided into subgroups where each Quom (meaning tribe or nation) is assigned a profession. Different Quoms are not permitted to intermarry or live in the same community.[22] These Muslims practice a ritual-based system of social stratification. The Quoms who deal with human emissions are ranked the lowest.[23]

The Caste system in Pakistan creates sectarian divides and strong issues along similar lines to those divides seen in India. Lower castes are often severely persecuted by the upper castes. Lower castes are denied privileges in many communities and violence is committed against them. A particularly infamous example of such incidents is that of Mukhtaran Mai in Pakistan, a low caste woman who was gang raped by upper caste men.[24] In addition, educated Pakistani women from the lower castes are often persecuted by the higher castes for attempting to break the shackles of the restrictive system (that traditionally denied education to the lower castes, particularly the women). A recent example of this is the case of Ghazala Shaheen, a low caste Muslim woman in Pakistan who, in addition to getting a higher education, had an uncle who eloped with a woman of a high caste family. She was accosted and gang-raped by the upper-caste family. The chances of any legal action are low due to the Pakistani Government's inability to repeal the Hudood ordinance against women in Pakistan,[25] though, in 2006, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf proposed laws against Hudood making rape a punishable offense,[26] which were ratified by the Pakistani senate. The law is meeting considerable opposition from the Islamist parties in Pakistan, who insist that amending the laws to make them more civilized towards women is against the mandate of Islamic religious law.[27]

The late Nawab Akbar Bugti, a terrorist fighting for the Balochistan Liberation Army , criticised Punjabi attitudes to women when he said, "What respect we give to a woman, irrespective of her caste, religion or ethnicity, no Punjabi can understand."[28]

Sri Lankan caste system

Main article: Caste in Sri Lanka

Caste system in the US

Stop hand.svg
The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

According to Max Weber, a Caste system is created when a status group develops into a “legal privilege and is easily traveled as soon as a certain stratification of the social order has in fact been ‘lived in’ and has achieved stability by virtue of a stable distribution of economic power”.[29] Many, including W. Lloyd Warner, Gunnar Myrdal, and John Dollard, believe that there is a caste system in the United States based on the color of a person’s skin. However, some hold that this relationship should not be referred to as a full-fledge caste system. Caste systems are supported by ritual, convention, and law. Status can influence and determine class, which also determines the caste system where a person belongs. Weber stressed that class, status, and political power relate and affect each other.

“Caste structure is an extreme form of status inequality in that relationships between the groups involved are said to be fixed and supported by ideology and/or law”.[30] In the US, membership in a specific caste is often hereditary, marriage within one’s caste is mandatory, mobility is impossible, and occupation is determined by caste position. Mobility is possible within one’s caste but not between castes. Race and ethnic stratification is evident throughout US caste systems. Each caste system must abide by specific codes of race relations in which certain behaviors and positions are expected by each group. Caste as metaphor for race relations was developed academically by Lloyd Warner 's “American Caste and Class”, Gunnar Myrdal 's An American Dilemma, and John Dollard 's Caste and Class in a Southern Town. Myrdal argued that “the scientifically important difference between the terms ‘caste’ and ‘class’… is … a relatively large difference in freedom of movement between groups”.[31]

Currently, there is controversy over the caste model of US race relations. Some believe that race is becoming largely irrelevant because “position in a system of inequality is allegedly based on achieved rather than ascribed characteristics”.[32] However, there is trouble comparing a caste system in the US to a caste system in India because of the very different degrees of inequality and other characteristics. Caste systems in India are tied to a specific occupation whereas blacks in the US are not regulated to a single type of occupation. The caste model in the United States is used more as a descriptive device than a historical explanation of racial inequality. Because there are strict laws in India guaranteeing certain rights and outlawing castes, this model is nothing more than an idealized model. However, in the US the model is a realistic view of the race structure.[33] Oliver C. Cox provides another criticism of referring to the black/white relationship as a caste system because the fundamental difference lies behind the fact that caste divisions in India are a logical system based on the principle of inequality, whereas the “colour bar” in America contradicts the egalitarian principles of the system where it occurs.[34]

Castes in Yemen

In Yemen there exists a caste like system that keeps Al-Akhdam social group as the perennial manual workers for the society through practices that mirror untouchability.[35] Al-Akhdam (literally "servants" with Khadem as plural) is the lowest rung in the Yemeni caste system and by far the poorest. According to official estimates in Yemen, the total number of Khadem countywide is in the neighbourhood of 500,000, some 100,000 of which live in the outskirts of the capital Sana'a. The remainder are dispersed mainly in and around the cities of Aden, Taiz, Lahj, Abyan, Hodeidah and Mukalla.[36]


The Khadem are not members of the three castes--Bedouin (nomads), fellahin (villagers), and hadarrin (townspeople)--that comprise mainstream Arab society.[36]They are believed to be of Ethiopian ancestry. Some sociologists theorize that the Khadem are descendants of Ethiopian soldiers who had occupied Yemen in the 5th century but were driven out in the 6th century. According to this theory the al-Akhdham are descended from the soldiers who stayed behind and were forced into menial labor as a punitive measure.[36]


The Khadem live in small shanty towns and are marginalized and shunned by mainstream society in Yemen. The Khadem slums exist mostly in big cities, including the capital, Sana'a. Their segregated communities have poor housing conditions. As a result of their low position in society, very few children in the Khadem community are enrolled in school[36] and often have little choice but to beg for money and intoxicate themselves with crushed glass.[37] A traditional Arabic saying in the region goes: "Clean your plate if it is touched by a dog, but break it if it's touched by a Khadem".[36] Though conditions have improved somewhat over the past few years, the Khadem are still stereotyped by mainstream Yemenese society, considering them lowly, dirty, ill-mannered and immoral.[37]

Many NGO's and charitable organizations from other countries such as CARE International are working towards their emancipation. The Yemenese government denies that there is any discrimination against the Khadem.[35][38]

See also


  1. AskOxford: caste
  3. G.S. Ghurye (1969)-Caste and Race in India, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai 1969 (1932)and Dirk "Castes of Mind" online
  4. An Untouchable Subject?
  5. Final Declaration of the Global Conference Against Racism and Caste-based Discrimination
  6. Discrimination that must be cast away,The Hindu
  7. James Silverberg (November 1969). Social Mobility in the Caste System in India: An Interdisciplinary Symposium. The American Journal of Sociology 75 (3): 443-444.
  8. Srinivas, M.N, Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India by MN Srinivas, Page 32 (Oxford, 1952)
  9. Caste in Modern India; And other essays: Page 48. (Media Promoters & Publishers Pvt. Ltd, Bombay; First Published: 1962, 11th Reprint: 1994)
  10. List of Scheduled Castes Delhi Govt.
  11. Reply to SC daunting task for government, Tribune India
  12. What is India's population of other backward classes?,Yahoo News
  13. 13.0 13.1 Danny Yee. Book review of Caste, Society and Politics in India: From the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age. URL accessed on 2006-12-11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "caste_aditya_nigam" defined multiple times with different content
  14. Bhattacharya, Amit. "Who are the OBCs?". URL accessed on 2006-04-19. Times of India, April 8, 2006.
  15. Caste-Based Parties. Country Studies US. URL accessed on 2006-12-12.
  16. Caste, Ethnicity and Nationality: Japan Finds Plenty of Space for Discrimination
  17. William H. Newell (December 1961). The Comparative Study of Caste in India and Japan. Asian Survey 1 (10): 3-10.
  18. Kim, Joong-Seop (1999). "In Search of Human Rights: The Paekchŏng Movement in Colonial Korea" Gi-Wook Shin and Michael Robinson Colonial Modernity in Korea, 326.
  19. Kim, Joong-Seop (2003). The Korean Paekjŏng under Japanese rule: the quest for equality and human rights, 147.
  20. Racial Classifications in Latin America
  22. Leach, Edmund Ronald (November 24, 1971). Aspects of Caste in South India, Ceylon and North-West Pakistan (Pg 113), Cambridge University Press.
  23. Leach, Edmund Ronald (November 24, 1971). Aspects of Caste in South India, Ceylon and North-West Pakistan (Pg 113), Cambridge University Press.
  24. - Six men found guilty in gang rape - Dec. 12, 2002
  25. Pakistani graduate raped to punish her low-caste family The Sunday Times - September 24, 2006
  26. Pakistan senate backs rape bill,BBC
  27. Strong feelings over Pakistan rape laws,BBC
  28. Tribals looking down a barrel in Balochistan
  29. Miller, S.M. 1963. Max Weber: Selections from His Work. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
  30. Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences. Sixth Edition.
  31. Myrdal, Gunnar. 1944. An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. New York: Harper and Brothers.
  32. Hurst, Charles E. Social Inequality: Forms, Causes, and Consequences. Sixth Edition.
  33. Berreman, Gerald D. 1960. “Caste in India and the United States.” American Journal of Sociology 66:120-127.
  34. Cox, Oliver C. 1948. Caste, Class and Race. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Akhdam: Ongoing suffering for lost identity Yemen Mirror
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 36.4 YEMEN: Akhdam people suffer history of discrimination,
  37. 37.0 37.1 Caste In Yemen by Marguerite Abadjian, archive of The Baltimore Sun
  38. Yemen Times


  • Spectres of Agrarian Territory by David Ludden December 11, 2001
  • "Early Evidence for Caste in South India", p. 467-492 in Dimensions of Social Life: Essays in honor of David G. Mandelbaum, Edited by Paul Hockings and Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, 1987.

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