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American Verna

.. did not change much through the years. A cause could be in the human’s nature of the need for belonging to a whole. There are two main approaches that could break the firmness of a social structure. One comes from outside the system by enculturation, and attacks the un-fairness of the structure with compare to other ones.

A second approach could be made by the lower classes demanding for better conditions. In India, there seems to be a form of harmony and peace within the lower classes. The “Herd Theory” explains this phenomenon by going back to the nature of human behavior. As other animals, people seem to think that a great form of self-defense is associating with ones who seem share common characteristics. By belonging to a “herd” one’s opinion is backed up by others and seem to have greater impact.

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If one were to leave the group, he would feel lonely, powerless and more vulnerable. A caste system cannot be more rigid than the one that its own people are happy with. In the United States, which is also known as the “Salad Bowl”, there are so many separate groups where one does not have much to loose when trying to make a change. The more diverse a society is, the more different opinions it contains, and the harder it is for people relate to one main group. If a person steps out of his group to voice his opinion, many others would follow him and create a new subgroup. This new group would shake the structure by offsetting the position on the ladder of other groups.

A lack of diversity keeps a structure solid. Although there are differences between the castes, there is still a sense of nationalism and belonging to a culture, not just a caste. In the U.S., Non-Americans have a hard time adapting a sense of belonging to a whole and therefore feel insecure. Also lack of diversity creates less of a difference between the body of religion and the body of law. In many societies, there are times where the following of religion interferes in with the way of the law.

Perhaps a radical example, human sacrifice is still practiced by few religions. If it were not for the prohibition of performing such acts, maybe those religions would be more accepted and popular within contemporary societies. The incorporation of law and religion makes a system much less complex, therefore more rigid. In India, there is a major integration of both law and religion. However, it seems as though religion comes first, in the supporting of the caste system. Louis Dumont suggests in his book that the caste system was developed as a result of the corruption of the Brahmins.

He says that the “philosophy of enlightenment, ‘superstition’ was an invention of the priests, for their own benefit.” This theory supports their strong belief in religion. The people of the lower castes were so ‘religiously nave’ that thoughts of corruption in this religious class were non-existent. This strong belief in religion is perhaps the backbone of the strong Indian social structure. Although similarities between the American and the Indian Caste systems exist, an important difference emerges due to the antiquity of the system. Because of how comparably new the American system is, it is therefore more flexible and modern. The Indian structure is so old, that it’s laws seem to be carved in stone.

Movement from strict adherence of religion towards objective thinking is directly caused by the development of science and technology. However, emphasis on tradition kept the Indian system in tact. From the American point of view, the Indian caste system could serve as a goal to strive for, or something it should avoid. Both views prove how rigid the Indian caste system is. If seen as a goal, it would take many years, as it took for the Indians, to develop such strict system. In contrast, if it were seen as something to avoid, then the American system would surely stray from such rigid laws and behaviors.

It is known to be a part of human’s nature to strive for superiority and power. But we should not think that this superiority would always lead to greed and corruption. From the Indian system we learn that the direct effects of outlining the requirements and power of people are peace, order, and the triumph of a unique culture. What emerged from the early Hinduism and Buddhism stays with us today. The way the Indians accept the terms and conditions already given to them is remarkable and perhaps the main reason why the Indian culture has been so successful over thousands of years.

Their wants needs, and duties are outlined through a complex interaction of religion and law, but ironically they just seem to be happy with whatever they have. In America, the fact that there is such an option of creating a better life already depicts a significant difference from the Indian social structure. Freedom of making decisions is considered a basic need for an individual, but it may promote the deterioration of a strong structure. While racism still plays a major role in the American way, many Americans are fighting in order to abolish it and many changes have been introduced during that last century. Such movements are not seen in India as often since the construction of its society has little to do with money and power. It is strongly based on tradition, religion and the aspiration of living a better life in the afterworld. Bibliography Duiker, William J.

and Jackson J. Spielvogel, World History Volume 1: To 1800,3rd Ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001 Dumont, Louis. Homo Hierarchicus: An Essay On the Caste System. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1970 Parenti, Michael, Power and the Powerless. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978 Singer, Milton and Bernard S. Cohn, Structure and Change in Indian Society.

Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1968 Strauss, Anselm L. The Contexts of Social Mobility. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1971 Vijai P. Singh. Caste, class and democracy: Changes in Stratification System.

Cambridge: Schenkman Publishing Company, 1976.


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