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Did British colonial powers invent the Indian caste system? Show more Show less
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The four-tiered caste system gives Hindu society a strict hierarchical structure, with teachers and religious leaders at the top, and the fifth "undesirable" category performing "unclean" work. Where did it come from? Was it a colonial invention? Or are its roots embedded in ancient Indian culture?

Yes, British colonial powers invented the Indian caste system Show more Show less

Pre-colonial documents make almost no reference to the caste system. It was a British invention as a method of classifying and controlling the vast Indian population.
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The caste system closely mirrors the British class system

It is no coincidence that the post-colonial caste system resembles the British class system.
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The Argument

All countries have natural fault lines in social society. The fact that the Indian fault lines closely match British social fault lines is no coincidence. Other ‘young’ democracies have developed social fault lines that look very different from the old colonial societies they stemmed from. The United States, for example, is divided by race and political affiliation. In Malaysia, another nation that emerged from British colonialism, social divides naturally fell along ethnic lines. However, in India, the caste system divides society into antiquated constructs of hereditary status. The castes remain closely affiliated with family occupation and wealth in the same way British society remains divided by class. This is no coincidence. It is because the caste system was a British construct and imposed on Indian social society.

Counter arguments

Just because two systems look similar does not mean the same force created them.


[P1] The Indian caste system looks very similar to the British class system. [P2] Therefore, the British likely invented the Indian caste system.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Similarity does not mean the same forces created the two systems.


This page was last edited on Monday, 27 Apr 2020 at 11:54 UTC

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