and were a good essay for school for a vetrian entrusted with the care of commerce and agriculture. Over the past few centuries, many Dalits have also converted to Christianity and have often by this means raised their socioeconomic status. In many parts of India, land is largely held by dominant castes-high-ranking owners of property-that economically exploit low-ranking landless laborers and poor artisans, all the while degrading them with ritual emphases on their so-called god-given inferior status. A few originally had ambiguous or hermaphroditic sexual organs. Eating food contaminated by contact with the saliva of others not of the same family is considered far too polluting to be practiced by members of any other castes. According to the Rig Veda, sacred texts that date back to oral traditions of more than 3,000 years ago, progenitors of the four ranked varna groups sprang from various parts of the body of the primordial man, which Brahma created from clay (see The Vedas. All citizens have the right to vote, and political competition is lively. Members of a caste are typically spread out over a region, with representatives living in hundreds of settlements.
The system continues to operate, but changes are occurring. There has been tremendous resistance among non-Dalits to this protective discrimination for the Scheduled Castes, who constitute some 16 percent of the total population, and efforts have been made to provide similar advantages to the so-called Backward Classes (see Glossary who constitute an estimated.
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They were to provide for the intellectual and spiritual needs of the community. Non-Hindu castelike groups generally fall outside these designations. After independence, Ambedkar almost singlehandedly wrote India's constitution, including key provisions barring caste-based discrimination. After death, a person's life is judged by divine forces, and rebirth is assigned in a high or a low place, depending upon what is deserved. Inequalities among castes are considered by the Hindu faithful to be part of the divinely ordained natural order and are expressed in terms of purity and pollution. An example of such an infraction might be marrying or openly cohabiting with a mate of a caste lower than one's own; such behavior would usually result in the higher-caste person dropping to the status of the lower-caste person. The mid-range of figures presented in a 1992 survey article by analyst Suman Dubey is approximately 150 to 175 million-some 20 percent of the population-although other observers suggest alternative figures. Dalits agitated for the right to enter Hindu temples and to use village wells and effectively pressed for the enactment of stronger laws opposing disabilities imposed on them. Lynch and other scholars, in the expanding political arena caste groups are becoming more politicized and forced to compete with other interest groups for social and economic benefits.
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