Rooted in Hinduism, India’s complex caste system includes 3000 castes and 25000 sub-castes, all traditionally related to occupation. They fall under four basic “varnas” or categories:
- BRAHMINS: priests, scholars and teachers. Famous members include: Jawaharlal Nehru, first president of independent India; Rahul Dravid, captain of India’s cricket team.
- KSHATRIYAS: warriors and rules. Famous members include: Vasundhara Raje Scindia, chief minister of the India state of Rajasthan.
- VAISHYAS: traders. Famous members include:Lakshmi Mittal, chief executive of Arcelor Mittal steel company; Mohandas Gandhi, Independence leader, the “father of the nation”.
- SUDRAS: manual workers and servants
- and the DALITS: formly known as ‘Untouchables,’ Dalits perform unpleasant jobs like cleaning or leather tanning. Famous members include: KR Narayanan, former president of India; BR Ambedkar, political leader and chief architect of the India constitution.