Recent literary inspiration has taken me to the Indian subcontinent. In real life, I have never travelled to this country, and the closest I have come to anything remotely related to the place is attempting to relinquish a piece of their culture through ordering garlic naan from the local kopitiam. However, that being said, the Singaporean equivalent of Indian culture is, in reality, something extremely different from theirs.
So how did the caste system come into place? Well, it came into place because of one man known as BR Ambedkar, who wrote up the entire book containing the Indian legal constitution system. Ironically, he was a member of the Achhoots/Dalit community, which is at the bottom of the caste system. In the early 19th century when British colonizers arrived in and seize dominance in India, they set up rules and regulations which set the precedence for the nation’s future history.
It is roughly divided into 4 categories : notably the brahmins, who are the priests and teachers, the kshatriyas, who are the warriors and rulers, the vaishyas, who are the farmers, traders and merchants; the shudras who are the menial lower wage workers, and finally, the achhoots/the dalits. Because they come from different classes, these people were not allowed to intermarry, or rather, if they did so, it would not be seen in a positive light.
Numerous books and movies have been produced which attempt to touch on different parts of this fascinating concept, and its legacy remains influential on the dating or marital preferences of couples today.
Vidushi (2015) Cinematic Narrative: The Construction of Dalit Identity in Bollywood. In: Thorsen E., Savigny H., Alexander J., Jackson D. (eds) Media, Margins and Popular Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137512819_9