Mani Duraisamy, An inquisitive Quoran, trying to learn more
Caste persists in India, because its an inherent part of Indian society and culture. Whatever its faults might be, inequality is a part of Nature. Its foolish to go against that force of Nature. Its tempting to assume that with the growth of science and atheism - caste system and identities should disappear.
But in realities- humans always form groups. Group ism is a trait which sets humans apart from other lesser animals. Any human being would want to look for a similar of his ilk. It would help him be in his comfort zone. It would help to have someone who matches your frequency, has your lifestyle and shares the same sympathies as yours. Caste is one of the attributes that helps in maintaining this bond.
There are three angles to this-Economic angle, political angle and cultural angle, which explains why caste system still persists in India
Today this is not of much relevance, but if one were to observe Indian history (and even the civilizations like Rome and Egypt), they see that a certain level of social stratification is indeed necessary to maintain order. In a predominantly agrarian society like India, a lot of manual labor is inevitable. We need a lot of people to do the labor work- tilling the lands, disposing of waste, transporting the produce. Each activity would be the specialty of one group of people.
For the purpose of being unbiased, I am going to ignore the Indian context here, and show a pyramid of the Japanese system
You can see that there is only one emperor and shogun , but a lot of peasants and merchants. Thats because the job of a peasant is such that they require a lot of manual effort and lesser qualifications and lesser pay. Now apply the same logic to the Indian caste pyramid and you might understand how it made (note the past tense) economic sense for the caste system to have persisted for centuries.
Next comes the political angle. This is pretty much relevant in today’s India. Democratic Indian political structure and our Constitution makes sure that each and every group irrespective of caste, creed , language, region and gender gets their voice heard. Article 15 and 16 states that the State shall not discriminate against any caste and will also provide reservations to the socially disadvantaged.
Caste becomes important here- because politicians representing a caste can democratically get elected by his caste/ community and work for their betterment. In a democracy, people listen to their voters. Be it upper-caste or Dalits, politicians are a reflection of the social structure of our society. If caste-based politics exist, its because that inequality is natural and someone is needed to represent their problems in the corridors of power.