(2) Caste promotes the spirit of cooperation and fellow-feeling at least within its range. It helps the poor, the needy and strengthens group sentiment.
(3) Caste is a source of social stability. It has given strength to the Indian society to withstand the “shocks of politics and the cataclysms of nature”.
(4) The caste functions as the constitution of the Hindu society. It rendered most important services in the past and continues to sustain the social order and its solidarity.
(5) The caste preserves the racial purity by prohibiting inter-marriages and by imposing endogamy on its members.
(6) It defines the economic pursuits and provides professional career to each individual. It provides for cultural diffusion within the group.
The ‘caste culture’ is passed on from one generation to the next, very systematically. As Hutton says, the caste canalises an individual’s choice in marriage, “acts as his trade union, his friendly or benefit society, his state club and his orphanage: it takes care for him of health, insurance and if need be provides for funeral.”
Demerits of Caste:
(1) The caste system has unwarrantedly divided the Hindu society into mutually hostile and conflicting groups and sub-groups. It has given scope to the inhuman practice of untouchability. It has cut across the social solidarity.
(2) As Gandhiji has said, untouchability is “the hatefullest expression of the caste.”
(3) It has hindered the growth of a strong national unity. The spirit of ‘caste-patriotism’, endangers the growth of national consciousness.
(4) The excessive caste loyalty has brought political disunity. It has wrecked the successful working of the multi-party system.
(5) It has prevented the proper growth of democracy. Strictly speaking, democracy and caste cannot go together. The caste engenders inequality while democracy assures equality.
(6) It has retarded progress. The caste is more conservative, reactionary and orthodox. It is for the status quo.
(7) It has hindered mobility; it has made our society more static than dynamic.
(8) It has lowered the status of women. In a caste-ridden society women have only a subordinate role to play.
(9) It has given scope for religious conversions. The lower caste people are getting converted into Islam and Christianity due to the tyranny of the upper castes.