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Did British colonial powers invent the Indian caste system?

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

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.

Colonial bureaucracy created the caste system

Colonial bureaucratic processes divided the population into castes. These bureaucratic divisions grew into social divisions.

Pre-colonial documents indicate a more socially mobile society.

Documents indicate that caste oppression was not a major prohibiter of social mobility prior to British rule.

‘Caste’ has no direct translation in many Indian languages

Direct translations of 'caste' are scant in Indian languages. If caste was born from Indian culture, this would be reflected in the subcontinent's linguistics.

The caste system closely mirrors the British class system

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

No, British colonial powers did not invent the Indian caste system

The idea of caste can be found in Indian scripture dating back two millennia.

The caste system is present in the Hindu religion

The caste system is visible in Hindu society prior to the arrival of the British in India.

British colonial powers reshaped the caste system

British colonial powers did not invent the caste system, but manipulated it to serve their purposes.

Regional differences over castes were eradicated under the British

The caste system existed prior to British rule, but the colonial powers created a uniform hierarchy.

The caste system blends British and Indian thinking

The caste system is an amalgamation of traditional Indian culture and colonial thinking.

British colonial powers disseminated the caste system

British colonial powers did not invent the caste system, but facilitated its wider adoption in Hindu society.

Academic generalizations helped the adoption of the caste system

It was due to the British attempts to group Hindus together that the caste system expanded across Indian society.

The Portuguese invented the Indian caste system

The Portuguese, not the British or the Indians, invent the Indian caste system.

The caste system derives from a Portuguese labeling system.

There was a history of religious conflict in Portugal that led to the development of a kind of classification system. When Portuguese colonists came to India, they applied similar practices to the native people.

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 26 Apr 2020 at 15:57 UTC