The Question of Caste: How Caste Affects Work and Consumption in India
However, I do think my comments on the contrary need elaboration. I said caste is important, but did not explain which way. Some readers wrote to me stating that while Caste is an issue, it may not be of significance in the urban markets, which the multinationals are primarily concerned with. I think even this view is wrong, and that caste has an enduring and deep significance in Indian culture and our behaviour. This post is a quick comment to justify why I think so.
Let's face facts. Today's India's workforce is mostly young, and the share of people under their 30s is ever rising. The Indian cities are growing fast, with a continuous stream of people migrating from villages to seek a better life. The country, for the first time in its long history, is actually achieving the state of the melting pot. However, while the Western influence is indeed spreading fast, and one can clearly witness this in pubs, festivals, women's clothing and recreational habits, it is wrong to assume that the old India, the one with traditions and history, has suddenly gone out of the window. On the contrary, to follow Edward Luce's observation - India always wins - the western practises are being 'indianized', which one sees in the beautiful floral tops of women, the tikka sandwich at Subway, the hinglish language, the very Indian chicken rolls, the dating ads posted by parents of the girl, contracts with shree written on top of the page and the puja which must invariably precede the inauguration of a new business facility.
In the same vein, caste refuses to go away and must be reckoned with in the modern Indian business. Try asking a Brahman boy to wash his own dishes and you will know. Narayana Murthy observes that the Brahminical tradition creates a bias against physical work - truly, because the caste system creates a hierarchy of work, thinking at the top, physical work at the bottom - and therefore, everyone wants to be a manager. Obviously, if you have to start a business in India, it is important to know that no one may want to be a salesman, no one may want to actually do the physical work of calls etc. Yes, indeed, a desk job, even it earns less, is often preferred by Indian graduates.