10S15: Chau Zhing, Lester, Kenny, Justin & Gwendy

In the past, class discrimination is evident among many countries which are run by monarchies. A monarchy is defined as a form of government in which political power is absolutely or nominally lodged with an individual or individuals. Within most monarchies exist a class system. A class system shows the status of people in their society by the jobs they have. Monarchies that are more famous for class discrimination in the past are India, which has a system known as caste system, and Egypt, which has a social class system.
India’s Caste System

The origins of the caste system in India are shrouded, but it seems to have originated some two thousand years ago. Under this system, which is associated with Hinduism, people were categorized by their occupations. Although originally caste depended upon a person's work, it soon became hereditary. Each person was born into an unalterable social status. The four primary castes are: Brahmin, the priests; Kshatriya, warriors and nobility; Vaisya, farmers, traders and artisans; and Shudra, tenant farmers and servants. Some people were born outside of the caste system. They were called Pariahs, or known as "untouchables."

Their caste system is largely influenced by their beliefs. Reincarnation is one of the basic beliefs in Hinduism; after each life, a soul is reborn into a new material form.
A particular soul's new form depends upon the virtuousness of its previous behaviour. Thus, a truly virtuous person from the Shudra caste could be rewarded with rebirth as a Brahmin in his or her next life.

Souls can move not only among different levels of human society, but also into other animals - hence the vegetarianism of many Hindus.

Within a life cycle, people had little social mobility. They had to strive for virtue during their present lives in order to attain a higher station the next time around.

Egypt’s Social Class System
In Egypt, there were definite social classes which were dictated by an Egyptian's profession, which is shaped like a pyramid.

At the bottom of the classes were slaves and farmers, they represented the greatest percent of the Egyptian population. The workers supported the professionals above them, just as the base of the pyramid supports the rest of the structure.

Above were skilled Craftsmen, then Scribes, Priests, Doctors, engineers, and then High Priests and Nobles, who served as generals and administrators, and formed the government. The Vizier was the Pharaoh's closest advisor. Finally, at the top of the social status pyramid was the Pharaoh. He was not simply a ruler, but was considered a god on earth for the Egyptians.

Current situation
Currently, the World is reducing discrimination on social classes, and equality is being stressed on. An example of efforts to reduce class discrimination would be in Britain. According to the article published on 13th January 2009, the British government is preparing to outlaw social class discrimination so that talents from less privileged backgrounds have a greater chance for employment.

However, there are still countries with quite severe class discrimination going on, but as compared to the past, it is on a much smaller scale. Examples of such countries with such discrimination are India and Peru.

India and Peru
For many centuries, the Hindu and Peruvian civilizations have followed a caste system of social stratification. Today, many belonging to the upper castes or social classes still subjugate Dalits in India and Campesinos (field workers) in Peru . Both Dalits and Campesinos are the lowest social classes in their respective countries, and they are oppressed by a caste system that exerts cruel discrimination and segregates these poor populations. The rich people in Peru (“ricos”) are mestizos with mixed European and indigenous blood. The Campesinos are mostly indigenous Quechuas. Although India and Peru are different culturally and ethnically, unfortunate similarities are manifested in the social conditions of their lowest classes. These impoverished people lack education, suffer political suppression, and have no legal protection.

One significant similarity between Dalits and Campesinos is their lack of education. A few Dalits benefit from government quotas reserved for castes. Because only a small minority of Dalits have benefited from India ’s policy of quotas in education, their priorities are work activities rather than education. Therefore, most Dalits are unskilled workers who are exploited due to their lack of education and low social status. They perform the most menial and unsafe jobs, such as removing human waste and dead animals, or sweeping streets. In the same way Peruvian Campesinos, with no quotas for higher education, are forced to send all the members of their families to work in the fields, including their children, who are often absent from school because of the necessity to work in order to contribute to their families’ incomes. While most Campesinos are engaged in farm labor, others perform manual labor such as trimming trees, sweeping streets, or digging wells under unsafe working conditions.

Another similarity between Dalits and Campesinos is the political suppression of rights. Dalits are used politically by upper caste candidates, but they are forgotten as soon the election is ended, and their rights are not protected. For instance, during an election, Dalits are compelled to vote for certain candidates. Dalit villagers who do not vote as they have been told have been murdered, beaten, and harassed. Also, Dalits who have sought active participation in politics have been battered or assassinated to keep them out of political office. There are laws which protect Dalits from such abuses of the caste system, but these laws remain unimplemented because the upper caste isn’t held accountable, so the laws are not enforced. Campesinos as well are obligated to vote for “ricos” candidates under the menacing threat of being fired from their jobs. Also, Campesinos have laws which protect their right to vote freely, but they are not enforced. For instance, although the law mandates that employers should facilitate voting for their workers, they don’t allow them to go to the elections polls, and when a Campesino presents a complaint about this, the authorities never proceed according to the law.

Finally, the lack of legal protection for Dalits and Campesinos is similar. Dalits are dominated by upper caste organizations. They are discriminated against in all public institutions, which makes it difficult for Dalits to get legal protection. For instance, police often refuse to receive complaints about crimes committed against the members of this lowest caste. Similarly, Campesinos are not protected under the same umbrella of the law. They suffer discrimination and segregation and are often cheated by the rich. For example, when a Campesino’s cow accidentally wanders onto ”ricos” property, they take that animal as part of their property, and because most “ricos” have connections with public authorities or the money to bribe them, it is impossible for the Campesinos to inquire about their rights against any member of the upper classes.

Progress and Limitations
Ever since the past, from caste systems in Ancient India and Egypt to the present class systems in the world now, class discrimination has been reduced significantly, and it is only targeted at a smaller group of people now, which largely aims developing countries. However, it is still existent in the world and would continue to exist in the world, as long as superiority among people which arises from high incomes and posts continue to remain in the mindsets of the people. It is not possible to fully eradicate class discriminations, unless the mindsets of people can be changed, and it would take many years for that to be done.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_system
2. http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/p/indiancastesystem.htm
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India#Caste_and_social_status
4. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/13/class-discrimination-social-mobility
5. http://www.eslstation.net/Lab_Information/Our_Lives/Viewpoints/Dalits_Campesinos.htm
6. http://www.aldokkan.com/society/social_pyramid.htm

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