Classifying the Community

Despite being the world’s largest democracy, India is a hierarchical society. It is a country full of complex social community structures that can be found throughout the spectrum of social and business environments.

Understanding the basics of these communities and how they’re structured can be a big help as you work your way into India. In this section, I give you the rundown on India’s community.

India’s caste system

Many Westerners have heard of the caste system, but a thorough understanding of its ins and outs is still relatively uncommon. The next sections highlight the nitty-gritty of the caste system.

What’s the caste system?

Broadly speaking, a caste system is a process of placing people in occupational groups and has pervaded several aspects of Indian society for centuries. Rooted in religion and based on a division of labor, the caste system, among other things, dictates the type of occupations a person can pursue and the social interactions that she may have. Castes are an aspect of Hindu religion. Other religions in India do not follow this system.

Castes and groups are ranked in hierarchical order (the origin wasn’t to have any hierarchy based on occupation or birth but purely on personality, this has got skewed somehow over time), which determine the behavior of one member of society over another. Even in a modern business setting, where caste isn’t an openly acknowledged issue, there may be a subtle observance of village or family-style ...

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