The term ‘Hinduism’ was introduced into the English language in the 19th century to denote the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India. This tempted many to say that Hinduism is something very new. What these people fail to appreciate is that Hinduism as we see it today is a conglomeration of different religious philosophies, sects and traditions. In earlier days there were Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras or Rajputs, Jats, Yadavs and Nambudris or Shaktas, Vaisnavas and Shaivas etc.. These divisions are still there, but collectively all are Hindus.
The ‘Chaturvarnas’ of Hinduism might have some sociological justification in distant past. However, its continuation during latter centuries was a result of vested interests among high caste Hindus. The ritualistic Brahmins in connivance powerful Kshatriyas befooled and exploited the Sudras who were put under the iron heels of upper caste Hindus for centuries.
For past more than six decades, Indian government has been trying to do justice to the low caste Hindus (Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Communities) through different welfare projects and reservations in education and services. Now government is introducing reservations in promotions of such serving employees also. Unfortunately, such endeavor has led to two developments. On one hand there grew up a creamy section of low caste Hindus who are reaping the harvest and on the other hand a strong current of hatred grew up between upper and lower caste Hindus for conflict of interest due to reservation policy. Hindu boys and girls are being killed by their family if they marry in low castes.
The third party in the Indian society is Muslims. Sachar Committee Reports had given a very gloomy picture of underdevelopment among Indian Muslims. There is a political group who wants reservations for Indian Muslims also. Thus India is practically divided into ‘high caste Hindus’, ‘low caste Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’. Politicians are playing with the situation in their own way. Civil society is not strong enough to cement the gap between these three different segments of the Indian society.