SIGNIFICANCE OF CASTE IN INDIAN POLITICS
Caste refers to a broad hierarchical institutional arrangement along which basic social factors like birth, marriage, food-sharing etc. are arranged in a hierarchy of rank and status. These sub-divisions are traditionally link to occupations and decide the social relation with respect to other upper and lower castes. The traditional hierarchical ordering of castes was based on the distinction between ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’. While the manifestation of the order has changed to a large extent in recent times, the system itself has not changed much. The word ‘Caste’ is derived from Spanish word caste which means race. People born in particular race have their separate caste. It defines all social, economic and political relationships for individual. Caste determines the nature, organisation and working of political parties, interest groups and all political structures and their functions. The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of caste in Indian politics and how it becomes an obstacle to the true working of parliamentary democracy and to the national integration. Caste is a social stratification system is a salient feature of Indian society which has influenced the structure of society in socio economic and political scenario. Caste values and caste interests influence persons’ political thinking, awareness and participation. Due to this process of political socialisation of caste, caste consciousness arouses among the people. While nominating their candidates from different constituencies the political parties keep in mind the caste of candidates and caste of the voters in that particular constituency. It in turn affects democratic ideals of equality, justice. At time it leads to an unhealthy struggle for power and acts as a divisive force. But at the same time prevalence of caste politics has resulted in the welfare of development of marginalised sections of society. Though prevalence of caste politics in India has contributed in some way to modernize political attitude it does not indicate that it is the way through which welfare of marginalised and disadvantaged sections can be achieved.