India has a caste system which is a social structure that separates people according to different socio-economic conditions.  In recent years the system has been relaxed and it is easier to move from caste-to-caste, but it is still significant to the Indian culture. Having a caste system can increase the amount of poverty and economic activity, leading to a decrease of international trade. In May, India’s general election will take place and the front-runner to be the next prime minister is Narendra Modi. Modi was a former tea seller, which is not considered an elite occupation and is quite different from the former occupations of leaders from the ruling Congress party.

If elected, Narendra Modi would be the first prime minister from a “backward caste,” which is considered a lower caste. Modi has accused the elitist Congress party as being corrupt and of being scared of running against a candidate from a lower caste. There have been numerous laws set in place in India that make discrimination by caste illegal. For example, there are reserve quotas for people in lower castes for higher education and government jobs. Regardless the caste system is still very important to India. In a study done in 2005, it was found that only 11% of Indian women married outside of their caste.

Could a prime minister from a lower caste affect the current social structure in India? There are many laws in effect that already prohibit discrimination, regardless the caste system still exists India’s rural regions. With increases in economic activity the caste system could prove to loosen due to an increase in jobs. As jobs in India increase, more people could potentially move from the rural areas to the urban areas in search of employment. As economic activity grows, India could increase international trade and its presence in the globalization.

If Narenda Modi is elected, it will be interesting to see if he is able to change any aspects of the current social structure in India. If elected, could he speed up the abolishment of the caste system? If the caste system does become more relaxed, the new social structure could prove to increase economic activity and globalization.

Share this article