The Varnashrama Dharma (classification of the society into 4 classes of people based on their work and role in society in Hinduism), which unfortunately got hardened and compartmentalized into a system of castes, is frequently blamed as a major reason for underprivileged people in the lower strata of the society to leave Hinduism for good.
While the caste system and the consequent demarcation of some of them as ‘upper’ and some as ‘lower’ can be blamed for some of the ills in the social practices of Hinduism, it is outright foolhardy to imagine that “Varnashrama” does not exist in any other religion or society!
In any religion, even where an overt caste or profession-based demarcation does not seemingly exist, there will invariably be the rich, powerful and influential persons who become de facto “upper castes” and the rest who are not so privileged become “lower castes”. Again there will indeed be different levels of people fitting between “upper” and “lower” depending on the clout they have with money, power or influence.
In any part of the world, in any decent society, you will find these sort of people:
- Teachers, professors, clergies, preachers, research scholars, scientists, intellectuals, linguistics — They are de facto equivalent to Brahmin class
- Politicians, statesmen, ministers, Top officers in administrative services, chiefs of Defense (Army/ Navy. Air force), military officers — they are de facto equivalent to Kshatriya Class.
- Businessmen, traders, Industrialists, small Industry owners — they are de facto equivalent to Vysya Class.
- Laborers, workmen, craftsmen, technicians — they are de facto equivalent to Shudra Class.
In the present times, even in India, it is common place to see Brahmins by caste being engaged in politics, civil services, trading/ business etc. Poor under-educated Brahmins too work as cooks, technicians etc. If a shudra by birth becomes a Sanskrit professor, he is in a way a Brahmin only, as per original definition.
Even if caste systems go, the social class differences between the rich and poor, the elite and the underdog are not going to vanish. That is the reality of human society.