The caste networks will disappear when the market economy starts to function efficiently
The caste system is arguably the most distinctive feature of Indian society. The Indian population is divided into four hierarchical classes, or varnas, with a large sub-population of untouchables excluded entirely from the system. Within each of these classes, and among the untouchables, are thousands of castes, or jatis. The central rule in Hindu society is that individuals must marry within their own caste. Recent genetic evidence indicates that this rule has been followed for over 2,000 years. Spatial segregation on caste lines within the village results in a high degree of local social connectedness, with caste clusters in distant villages and select urban locations linked to each other through ties of marriage over many generations. This unique social structure has remained in place 70 years after Independence, in one of the world’s most dynamic economies.