The Indian Caste System: A first person narrative.

Essay by iamzeroHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2004

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My name is Amrit Kumar and I live in the city of Calcutta. I live in an apartment with my parents, siblings and their children. Our home is not very large, just big enough to fit everyone inside. Outside the sounds of automobiles and wandering pedestrians can be heard day and night. The fumes from the cars and machines have caused breathing problems for many of the people in our neighborhood. My siblings and I all work to support our household. We own few possessions and we try to keep what we own a secret. Just the other day our neighbor had his leg broken by an angry group of Vaisyas for purchasing a truck. These types of occurrences happen several times each month in our area. Our family tries to follow the rules because we cannot afford to lose a source of income.

I work as sewage cleaner for the city, as do my brothers and my father before me.

This is the primary career for people in my area. I earn 100 rupees a day at my job. The work is hard and very dangerous. It is not uncommon for workers to go unconscious in the sewers. Many of my fellow workers have gotten ill from the polluted sewers. Down in the sewers the fumes from the waste are nauseating and I become dizzy after being down there for too long. I usually work for 10 to 12 hours each day. After work we wash off with a garden hose and then go home for the night.

Although I do not like my job, it is all I can do. I make 500 rupees each week, which I put towards food and clothing for my family. The salary is very small, but it's the best paying job...