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The caste system in India is a system of social stratification which historically separated communities into thousands

of endogamoushereditary groups called jtis, usually translated into English as "castes". The jtis are thought of as being grouped
into four varnas: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. Certain groups, now known as "Dalits", were excluded from the
varna system altogether, ostracised as untouchables.While identified with Hinduism in India, the caste system is found in other
religions on the Indian subcontinent, albeit less prevalent and on a much smaller scale, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam,
and Sikhism.
Caste is commonly thought of as an ancient fact of Hindu life, but contemporary scholars have argued that the caste system was
deliberately reinforced, if not constructed by the British colonial regime. Between 1860 and 1920, the British segregated Indians
by caste, granting administrative jobs and senior appointments only to the upper castes. Social unrest during 1920s led to a
change in this policy. From then on, the colonial administration began a policy of positive discrimination by reserving a certain
percentage of government jobs for the lower castes. After India achieved independence, this policy of caste-based reservation of
jobs was formalised with lists of Scheduled Castes (Dalit) and Scheduled Tribes (Adivasi).
Discrimination against lower castes is illegal in India under Article 15 of its constitution. India
tracks violence against Dalits nationwide; in 2011, the crime prevalence rate against Dalits was 2.8 per 100,000. Since 1950, the
country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste
population. These caste classifications for college admission quotas, job reservations and other affirmative action initiatives,
according to the Supreme Court of India, are based on heredity and are not changeable. These initiatives by India, over time,
have led to many lower caste members being elected to the highest political offices including the election of K.R. Narayanan, a
Dalit, as President of the nation from 1997 to 2002.
The caste system in India can be described as an elaborately stratified social hierarchy distinguishing Indias social structure from any
other nation. Its history is multifaceted and complex.
Caste is a term, which is used to specify a group of people having a specific social rank and dates back to 1200 BCE. The Indian term
for caste is jati, and generally designates a group that can vary in size from a handful to many thousands. There are thousands of jatis
each with its own rules and customs. The various jatis are traditionally arranged in hierarchical order and fit into one of the four basic
varnas the (Sanskrit word for colors).

--The varna of Brahmans, commonly identified with priests and the learned class
--The varna of Kshatriyas, associated with rulers and warriors including property owners.
--The varna of Vaishyas, associated with commercial livelihoods (i.e. traders)
--The varna of Shudras, the servile laborers

The Untouchables occupy a place that is not clearly defined by boundaries and is outside of the varna scheme. Their jobs (such as
toilet cleaning and garbage removal) cause them to be considered impure and thus untouchable. Historically the untouchables
were not allowed in temples and many other public places. In 1950 legislation was passed to prevent any form of discrimination
towards the untouchables. Although legislation has affected the status of the people, they are yet very much a visible part of Indian
society.