MWC023 - The Indian Caste System - Missing Word Cloze

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Read the text about the role the caste system plays in India. Complete the text by filling in the missing words. There are TWO words you will not need.



Castes (from the Portuguese word "casta") divide society into groups of people with different functions and . The original Hindu caste system based on ancient religious texts defined four castes to their spiritual and physical development and self-control. The early caste system did not explicitly exclude from one caste to another.

Later on the four castes were linked to the function individuals had in society. The highest caste, the Brahmins, were the intellectual and spiritual guides, priests and . Second were the Kshatriyas, the caste of warriors and rulers. Then came the Vaishyas, with trading and commerce, and the lowest caste were the Shudras, labourers and craftsmen.

For fear of pollution, higher castes had to any contact with the "untouchables", people who ranked below all others and did the dirty work. While the higher castes managed to their position, the lower ones were denied any power. Infringement of caste rules of conduct led to punishment.

During their rule the British tried to give more rights to the lower castes and to traditional practices like the suttee (a funeral ceremony in which a recently widowed woman burns herself together with her husband's corpse), but in , they did not succeed. Since 1949 the Constitution of India has granted all its citizens equal rights, but changes have been .

The changes brought about by today's boom have done much more to weaken the caste system. With masses of people squeezed together in the big cities pollution laws can no longer be observed, and it has become possible for people to improve their status through professional and financial success. Especially in the cities, caste is losing influence.

The of the former untouchables, who now call themselves Dalits (the oppressed), are still underprivileged, but as their numbers are strong (18-20% of the population), democracy - and especially Mahatma Gandhi - has them with more power and better jobs.