2) SOCIAL STRUCTURE8

Even today, the social structure in India is dominated by ďcaste or tribe.Ē  There was never a common caste system throughout the Indian continent.  Only the Brahmin caste or tribe, probably a sect of Aryans (Indo-Europeans) that came to India approximately 4000  or 5000 years ago from Central Asia, is the common caste throughout India, just like Jews in Europe.  Each nationality has its own castes in the Indian continent, having thousands of castes which are not common to any other nationality, e.g., the castes in Telugu nationality in the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), such as Reddy, Kamma, Kapu, Velama, Mala, Madiga, and hundreds more, are unique and are not found anywhere else in India.  These castes seem to have derived from various groups or tribes which do not have inter tribal marital relations. The Brahmin caste is also divided into several groups based on the intermixing with the native Dravidian populations of Andhra Pradesh and on their religious and vocational differences.

In ancient India, the guilds based on caste (kulamu) became a part of urban life. Artisans joined the guilds, which offered social status and security.  Guilds provided education also.  The guilds were centers of technical education.  They restricted the membership to artisans of a particular craft.  Technical knowledge of trades such as mining, metallurgy, weaving, carpentry etc. was maintained and developed by the guilds.

Caste courts or Kula peddalu (caste leaders) controlled the social and religious behavior of the guild or caste members, while Brahmins controlled the Brahminical religious education and behavior. The rigid caste system was supposed to provide security to the guild workers (and, of course, to protect the purity of the blood). Only members of a particular caste were allowed to work in a particular field.   A potterís son used to continue his fatherís trade. The son learned from his father. Thus the trade secrets were protected.  Guilds and cooperatives used various trademarks.  The banners and insignia of the guilds were used in processions in the festivals for advertisement.  The guilds provided gifts and donations, which were advertised in the inscriptions.

Today in Andhra Pradesh, the rigid caste system continues to exist and dominates the political landscape.   Though there is no legal separation of castes on the traditional basis of work, the tribal tradition continues in social interactions such as marriages, family affairs and to a limited extent in  religious vocation.  Usually, a priestís son becomes a priest, though a potter may aspire to that position, legally.  Modern crafts and industries, such as chemical, computer and software industries, which did not have a caste of their own owing to their recent origin, are open to all.  In modern Andhra Pradesh and the Indian Union education, administration, industry and enterprise are not for everyone without any restrictions. The Government provides special previleges to some tribes and castes, through affirmative action.

In politics the kulamu (caste) plays a major role.  Usually voting preferences are determined by the caste of the voter and the caste of the candidate. The Congress (Indira) party is dominated by Reddys and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is considered a Kamma party.  Hence, the politics in Andhra Pradesh/India may be considered caste or tribal politics. Even the Telugu Associations in the United States are divided into several groups, perhaps on the basis of tribe/caste.
 

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