Caste struggles in India

This item appears on page 18 of the April 2016 issue.

In and around the city of Delhi, India, in February, large and occasionally violent protests by people in the Jat caste left at least 16 people dead and hundreds injured. Jat protesters also took over and damaged the Munak Canal on Feb. 18, the main water source for Delhi, leaving more than 10 million people in the city without water until the Indian army secured the canal and restored water service on Feb. 23.
In India, members of “lower”-caste communities, known officially as “backward” castes, are offered more government assistance. The Jat community is considered an “upper” caste, and limits are set on the number of government-sponsored jobs and educational opportunities available to its members. This is what they were protesting.
The Indian caste system is based on a feudal hereditary tradition that limited social mobility in India in the past, and it still has some influence in Indian society.