socially from the conquerors who have overrun their country.
races which, unprotected by caste, have come in contact with the white man? Nor in India itself are we altogether without a well-marked instance of the value, for a time at least, of an entire social separation between the dark and white races; and the Todas, the lords of the soil on the Nilgiri Hills, furnish us with a lamentable example of what the absence of caste feeling is capable of producing. We found them a simple pastoral
considered to be their greatest advantage—freedom from caste associations. But what is their condition now? One of drunkenness, debauchery, and disease of the most fatal description. (sexual diseases ?) Had the much-reviled caste law been theirs, what a different result would have ensued from their contact with Europeans! Caste would have saved them from alcohol, and their women from contamination: they would thus have maintained their self-respect; and if, at first, separation brought no progress nor shadow of change, it would have at least induced NO evil, and education and enlightenment would in time have modified these caste institutions, which, to a
superficial observer, seem to be productive of nothing but evil.
founded. An imaginary superiority will, I believe, answer the purpose equally well. “We don’t touch beef, nor would we touch food cooked by Englishmen or Pariahs.”seem but poor matters for self -congratulation. But if these considerations prevent a man from forming a poor opinion of himself, they should be carefully cherished. On these points, at least, a feeling of superiority is sustained, and therefore the tendency to degradation is diminished. But if on all points the white man makes his superiority felt, the weaker people speedily acquire a thorough contempt for themselves, and soon become careless of what they do, or of what becomes of them. Their mental spring becomes fatally depressed, and this circumstance has probably more to do with the deterioration and extinction of inferior races than most people would be inclined to admit.
a tendency, in the first instance, to adopt the vices rather than the virtues of the more civilized races they may come in contact with. Assuming, then, as I think we have every right to do, that this statement is universally true, it is evident that the social separation maintained by caste has been of incalculable advantage. On the other hand, however, a number of disadvantages have been indicated by various writers; but only one of them seems to me at all worthy of serious attention. It has been asserted that this segregation has impeded advancement, that it has prevented the Indians learning as much from us (British) as they otherwise might, and that it has impeded the mainspring of all advancement—education. Here, I apprehend, the argument against caste, as far as rural populations are concerned, utterly fails, and, in a province contiguous to my own, a most
signal instance to the contrary can be pointed to. Few people have more proudly segregated themselves than the Coorgs; nowhere is the chastity of women more jealously guarded; and yet they were the first people in India who desired and petitioned for female education. And how, then, can it be for one moment asserted that the tendency of caste is to check the progress of the people? "