I happened to find the Megasthenes’ ‘Indika’ courtesy Google. Megasthenes was in Magadh at the time of Chnadra Gupta Maurya. Indika is his writings about the social and political conditions of the country at that time. He has talked on the caste system prevailing at that time. He writes, “The whole population of India is divided into seven castes.” Over the centuries, those seven castes have expanded over to perhaps 700 or 7000, and that is the weakest point of India with a potential to weaken the nation to any degree that can hold it from competing with the global powers. No religious leader of the majority community could realize the menace that the caste system could cause, and so didn’t denounce the system and tried to abolish it.
I had a hope that the younger generation with education would drop this way of identifying themselves. Growing intimacies without any caste bias would mean more and more inter-caste marriages and end of the horrendous system deciding one’s characteristics based on caste. I got the shock of my life, when I went through a recent report.
According to a BBC poll, the first for a nationwide ‘attitudes’ survey conducted by an international agency, that at a time when much of the world appears to have a view alternately on ”emerging India” or ”overheating India” Indians still seem to have caste firmly on their minds in one way or the other, even though leading sociologists have long argued that urbanization and industrialization has helped break down caste-barriers. 55% said the ”caste system is a barrier to social harmony.
The survey was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan. The survey comes as part of BBC’s ongoing ‘India Rising’ week of special programming that charts changes in different sectors of the Indian economy.
Some other interesting findings of the survey were:
Indians overall, seven in 10 exhibited a positive sense of identity by agreeing to the statement, ”I am proud to be an Indian.” The view was uniform across all age, income groups. However, the view differed among religious groups with Christians (73%) the proudest; Hindus (71%) close behind and Muslim pride in being Indian languishing at 60%. Why are the Christians the most proud lot? Why are the Muslims so much behind? Is it because of madrassa education or appeasement policies of political system?
52% said ”being a woman is no barrier to success”
Just under half of all Indians (48%) declared they would rather ”work for a private company than for the government.”
Six in 10, or 58% said they believed India’s security is ”more in danger from other Indians than from foreigners”
47% said ”corruption is a fact of life which we should accept as the price of doing business.” But a cheering 45% of 18- to 24-yearold Indians said they were less tolerant of corruption than the older generation.
On religious belief, 50% said ”people don’t take their religion seriously”;
40% lamented that ”young Indians have lost touch with their heritage.”
60% think India should be a political power
60% believe the country should be a military superpower