Ethnicity Class System

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Ethnicity and the Class System
-Soumya Uttam, 2-B

Our society is deeply engraved with many forms of social stratification. People are constantly being categorized in a hierarchy, based upon their occupation, income, social status and power. One such type is the Class system, which is based upon economy. Social groups are divided according to their relationship to a 'means of production', i.e, land, property, industries, etc. As according to Marx's theories. Owners are given the highest position, i.e. high class, who are supposed tobe 'rich' and who command everybody under them. this is followed by the working classes, who have nothing of their own but make a living by serving the higher class. This is being carried on from ancient times,
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However, there are many who tend to escape this by shifting their belief from this system to other systems of identifying themselves. Here is where one's ethnicity plays an important role. People like to identify themselves through a common ancestral, cultural, social or national heritage. This is called ethnicity. It generates the idea of a community, an identity, which can be of the form of ethno-religious, ethno-religion, ethno-linguistic, ethno-racial, ethno-national, or ethno-regional.
These two ways are well illustrated in Kiran Desai's novel "The inheritance of Loss", by the lives of two characters, Jemubhai, a retired judge and Gyan, a middle class boy of a native tribe of Darjeeling.
The novel revolves around ideas of class, ethnicity, and cultural identity. Set in the 1980's, the story shuffles between Kalmipong, a small village in Darjeeling and New York City, America. During the unstable post-colonial political period in the hilly region of Kalimpong, in an old Scottish mansion lives Sai, a seventeen-year-old girl, with her grandfather, Jemubhai,a retired Judge. He had a beloved dog, Mutt, and a faithful cook also living with him. Though living off his pension now, the judge had long formed prejudice against the lower working class, as seen in his relationship with his poor
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This is an example of how people use migration to fight class system.

A similar story is of the judge's, only with a tragic conclusion. Originally from a small village, he had won an opportunity to study law in London when he was a young boy. Here, both Biju and the Judge, from the lower class, face the drastic shift of culture, both material and non material, from the way of life in the 'backward', impoverished villages in the developing world to the foreign, more 'civilized' and advanced lands which makes them fall even lower in the class scale.
" For entire days nobody spoke to him at all, his throat jammed with words unuttered, his heart and mind turned into blunt aching things,.. even the elderly ladies moved over when he sat next to them in the bus, so he knew that whatever they had, they were secure in their conviction that it wasn't even remotely as bad as what he had..girls held their noses and giggled, "phew, he stinks of
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