Competitive Exams: Main Features of Caste System: British rule

British rule

The fluidity of the caste system was affected by the arrival of the British. Prior to that, the relative ranking of castes differed from one place to another. The castes did not constitute a rigid description of the occupation or the social status of a group. Since the British society was divided by class, the British attempted to equate the Indian caste system to the class system. They saw caste as an indicator of occupation, social standing, and intellectual ability. During the initial days of the British East India Company's rule, caste privileges and customs were encouraged, but the British law courts disagreed with the discrimination against the lower castes. However, British policies of divide and rule as well as enumeration of the population into rigid categories during the 10 year census contributed towards the hardening of caste identities.

During the period of British rule, India saw the rebellions of several lower castes, mainly tribals that revolted against British rule. These were:

  • Halba rebellion (1774 − 79)
  • Bhopalpatnam Struggle (1795)
  • Bhil rebellion (18221857)
  • Paralkot rebellion (1825)
  • Tarapur rebellion (1842 − 54)
  • Maria rebellion (1842 − 63)
  • First Freedom Struggle (1856 − 57)
  • Bhil rebellion, begun by Tantya Tope in Banswara (1858)
  • Koi revolt (1859)
  • Gond rebellion, begun by Ramji Gond in Adilabad (1860)
  • Muria rebellion (1876)
  • Rani rebellion (1878 − 82)
  • Bhumkal (1910)