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An Obituary on Caste as a System

The Bhakti movement of medieval India was really pan-Indian and attracted a large number of men and women from the lower orders and it even crossed the religious divide between Hindus and Muslims. But it failed to make a dent on caste hierarchy. The moral to be drawn is that an ideological attack on caste which is not backed up or underpinned by a mode of social production ignoring or violating caste-based division of labour is totally inadequate. A combination of wholly new technologies, institutions based on new principles and a new ideology which includes democracy, equality and the idea of human dignity and self-respect has to be in operation for a considerable time to uproot the caste system. Such a combination of forces is today bringing about the destruction of the caste-based system of production in the villages and at the local level.

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