SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Caste

Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural notions of purity and pollution. Its paradigmatic ethnographic example is the division of India's Hindu society into rigid social groups, with roots in India's ancient history and persisting to the present time. However, the economic significance of the caste system in India has been declining as a result of urbanization and affirmative action programs. A subject of much scholarship by sociologists and anthropologists, the Hindu caste system is sometimes used as an analogical basis for the study of caste-like social divisions existing outside Hinduism and India; the term "caste" is applied to morphological groupings in female populations of ants and bees. The English word "caste" derives from the Spanish and Portuguese casta, according to the John Minsheu's Spanish dictionary, means "race, tribe or breed".

When the Spanish colonized the New World, they used the word to mean a "clan or lineage". It was, the Portuguese who first employed casta in the primary modern sense of the English word'caste' when they applied it to the thousands of endogamous, hereditary Indian social groups they encountered upon their arrival in India in 1498; the use of the spelling "caste", with this latter meaning, is first attested in English in 1613. Modern India's caste system is based on the artificial superimposition of a four-fold theoretical classification called the Varna on the natural social groupings called the Jāti. From 1901 onwards, for the purposes of the Decennial Census, the British classified all Jātis into one or the other of the Varna categories as described in ancient texts. Herbert Hope Risley, the Census Commissioner, noted that "The principle suggested as a basis was that of classification by social precedence as recognized by native public opinion at the present day, manifesting itself in the facts that particular castes are supposed to be the modern representatives of one or other of the castes of the theoretical Indian system."

The system of Varnas propounded in ancient Hindu texts envisages the society divided into four classes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Shudras. The texts do not mention any untouchable category in Varna classification. Scholars believe that the Varnas system was never operational in society and there is no evidence of it being a reality in Indian history; the practical division of the society had always been in terms of Jātis, which are not based on any specific principle, but could vary from ethnic origins to occupations to geographic areas. The Jātis have been endogamous groups without any fixed hierarchy but subject to vague notions of rank articulated over time based on lifestyle and social, political or economic status. Many of India's major empires and dynasties like the Mauryas, Chalukyas, Kakatiyas among many others, were founded by people who would have been classified as Shudras, under the Varnas system, it is well established that by the 9th century, kings from all the four castes, including Brahmins and Vaishyas, had occupied the highest seat in the monarchical system in Hindu India, contrary to the Varna theory.

In many instances, as in Bengal the kings and rulers had been called upon, when required, to mediate on the ranks of Jātis, which might number in thousands all over the subcontinent and vary by region. In practice, the jātis may or may not fit into the Varna classes and many prominent Jatis, for example the Jats and Yadavs, straddled two Varnas i.e. Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, the Varna status of Jātis itself was subject to articulation over time. Starting with the British colonial Census of 1901 led by Herbert Hope Risley, all the jātis were grouped under the theoretical varnas categories. According to political scientist Lloyd Rudolph, Risley believed that varna, however ancient, could be applied to all the modern castes found in India, " meant to identify and place several hundred million Indians within it." In an effort to arrange various castes in order of precedence functional grouping was based less on the occupation that prevailed in each case in the present day than on that, traditional with it, or which gave rise to its differentiation from the rest of the community.

"This action removed Indians from the progress of history and condemned them to an unchanging position and place in time. In one sense, it is rather ironic that the British, who continually accused the Indian people of having a static society, should impose a construct that denied progress" The terms varna and jāti are two distinct concepts: while varna is the idealised four-part division envisaged by the Twice-Born, jāti refers to the thousands of actual endogamous groups prevalent across the subcontinent; the classical authors scarcely speak of anything other than the varnas, as it provided a convenient shorthand. Thus, starting with the 1901 Census, Caste became India's essential institution, with an imprimatur from the British administrators, augmenting a discourse that had dominated Indology. “Despite India's acquisition of formal political independence, it has still not regained the power to know its own past and present apart from that discourse”. Upon independence from Britain, the Indian Constitution listed 1,108 castes across the country as Scheduled Castes in 1950, for positive discrimination.

The Untouchable

Panulirus penicillatus

Panulirus penicillatus is a species of spiny lobster that lives on shallow rocky and coral reefs in the tropical Indo-Pacific region. Common names for this spiny lobster include variegated crayfish, tufted spiny lobster, spiny lobster, Socorro spiny lobster, red lobster, pronghorn spiny lobster, golden rock lobster, double spined rock lobster and coral cray, it has a wide range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern". Spiny lobsters differ from true lobsters in having large spiny antennae and lacking pincers on their front legs. Panulirus penicillatus grows to a maximum length of about 40 centimetres, but a more normal length is 30 centimetres, with males growing to larger sizes than females. There is a group of four strong spines joined at the base, attached to the plate in front of the carapace to which the antennules are attached; the colour of this spiny lobster is variable, ranging from yellowish-green to rusty-brown or bluish-black.

There are small white spots on the carapace and abdomen and a pair of larger white spots near the outer edge of the first abdominal segment. The legs are red with yellow longitudinal stripes; the antennules are not banded. Panulirus penicillatus occurs in Pacific Oceans, its range extends from the eastern coast of Africa and the Red Sea to Thailand, Australia, the Pacific archipelagos, the Galapagos Islands and islands off the coast of Mexico. It is found in shallow water at depths of less than 4 metres on rocky surfaces, on the outer slopes of reefs and in water channels, where it hides in crevices during the daytime and emerges at night. While P. penicillatus is exploited for food throughout its wide range, this does not seem to have had a large impact on total populations, although some local populations may be declining. The age of maturity has not been studied, but related species become mature at three to four years of age; the longevity is at least ten years and the female fecundity is several hundred thousand eggs.

For these reasons, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the conservation status of this spiny lobster as being of "least concern". Photos of Panulirus penicillatus on Sealife Collection

Feminists for Life

Feminists for Life of America is a non-profit, pro-life feminist, non-governmental organization. Established in 1972, now based in Alexandria, the organization describes itself as "shaped by the core feminist values of justice, non-discrimination, non-violence". FFL is dedicated to "systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion -primarily lack of practical resources and support - through holistic, woman-centered solutions". FFL publishes a biannual magazine, The American Feminist, aims to reach young women, college students in particular. Feminists for Life professes to "stand on more than two hundred years of pro-life feminist history", continuing a tradition of nineteenth-century American feminists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; this position has been challenged by critics who question comparisons between 19th and 20th century views on abortion, as well as the attribution of certain quotations to Anthony and Stanton. Feminists for Life was founded by Pat Goltz and Cathy Callaghan in Ohio in 1972.

Goltz and Callaghan met in a judo club on the campus of Ohio State University, where Callaghan was a tenured professor of linguistics. In 1974, Goltz was expelled from the Columbus, chapter of the National Organization for Women for arguing that abortion violated feminist principles, although she and Callaghan were not expelled from national NOW membership. After five years as president of FFL, Goltz retired. In 1977, organizational management was moved to Wisconsin; the group's activities focused on being a presence at both pro-life and feminist events, distributing literature, writing letters to various publications. A national workshop that became an annual conference for pro-life feminists was launched during this time. Many members supported both the Equal Rights Amendment and a Human Life Amendment as "complementary in their concern for human life". FFL's work for the Equal Rights Amendment was met with a great deal of resistance, including strong resistance at pro-ERA demonstrations, when FFL members attempted to distribute pro-life/pro-ERA tracts.

In the late 1970s, Goltz spoke with the legendary suffragist Alice Paul, who authored the original Equal Rights Amendment. Paul conveyed to Goltz her belief that abortion was inconsistent with feminism, that many of the founding mothers of feminism disapproved, she related her fear that the increased attempts to link abortion to ERA would prevent the amendment's ratification, end feminism as well. FFL would go on to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment in 2020, citing support from pro-choice activists to link the ERA to abortion. In June 1984, at the annual FFL meeting in Omaha, peace activist Rachel MacNair was elected president of FFL. Out of her office at a crisis pregnancy center in Kansas City, she ran FFL for ten years. Under MacNair, FFL began to receive more national exposure through media interviews, involvement in a broad spectrum of pro-life issues, invitations to speak at pro-life events. By 1989, FFL was reporting that their research had found statements against abortion, made by early feminists.

Some of these findings were challenged by specialists in women's history in the case of Susan B. Anthony, leading to a public dispute about her views on abortion. During 1992, MacNair worked toward founding the Susan B. Anthony List as a political action committee working against abortion through electing pro-life candidates. In mid-2005, the Woodward Building, which housed the offices of Feminists for Life, the National Organization for Women, The Hill newspaper, among others, closed to be converted into apartments. On February 15, 2006, the first major Congressional discussions on the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Students Act began; the act was passed in 2010 to supply funds during 2011–2019 for pregnant students and parents in school. FFL uses "pro-women" arguments in order to convince women that abortion is "immoral". Goltz argued that the legalization of abortion allowed sexually exploitative men to avoid responsibilities, like paying for child support, run away from their actions.

FFL argues. In response to Roe v. Wade, Callaghan made several claims, including that abortion causes bodily injury to women "in a third to a half of the cases", that the Supreme Court legalized abortion because they "hate poor and unwed mothers"; this claim is called "unsubstantiated" by professor Kelsy Kretschmer. However, Kretschmer does explain that the goal of these arguments were to make it hard for men and women to consider abortion a "feminist" victory. FFL describes its broader vision as opposing all forms of violence, which it considers "inconsistent with the core feminist principles of justice, non-violence and non-discrimination", including the death penalty, assisted suicide, euthanasia and child abuse. FFL claims that its pro-life positions are not compatible with feminism, but are the natural conclusion of feminist values. FFL's pro-life positions have been criticized by some traditional feminists. Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation, argues that FFL seeks to make abortion illegal in all cases, including those of rape, health, major fetal defects, "even some abortions most doctors would say were necessary to save the woman's life".

Former FFL board member Sharon Long responded that, "FFL opposes the criminalization of women and focuses our efforts on freeing women from abortion by addressing the issues reported by the Guttmacher Institute - and working along with pro-choice advocates to check off our task list". Pollitt states that FFL president Serrin Foster "professed ignorance" about rates of death and injury