Caste system has several disadvantages which come in the way of social progress and development. It was the steel work of Hindus and thus it acted to curb individual freedom. Its disadvantages can be noted as under:
1. Caste system which was expected to raise man from savagery, acted to stop them half-way on the road to progress. It is probably a fact that the case in which the man was born pre-determined his vocation. He had no choice for his self-assertion and social security.
2. Caste is hierarchically graded, each caste being graded inferior to those above it and superior to those below it. The status of man is determined by the rank of that caste in the hierarchy. Once born in that case, his status stands pre-determined and immutable irrespective of any talent he may show or wealth he might accumulate.
3. Caste system acts as an obstacle to national unity. It demands foremost allegiance to itself. It comes in the way of national integration and nation-building.
4. Caste, as supported by ancient scriptures curbed individual initiative and thus made him fatalist. For example the doctrine of Karma theory holds that birth in a high caste or a low caste is the reward and punishment of man’s past birth and behaviour and which has to be accepted by each.
5. In the ancient time the caste system acted as a shield for justifying anti-social conduct of some persons. A Brahman despite committing a crime used to get a soft and favoured decision against a Sudra. Separate laws for each caste enabled high castes to indulge in anti-social activities. It also led to moral degradation of high castes.
6. Caste acted as an obstacle in the way of economic development of all sections of society. The rigid rules of caste system compelled everyone to follow his hereditary occupation and this acted as a big limitation on the economic progress of the individual and the society.
7. Caste system also became responsible for several immoral social practices and low standard of morality. As the population increased, people had to adopt underhand means and immoral practices for earning their livelihoods. Casteism acted as the major source of social inequality and injustice.
8. Caste system also led to inhuman practices like Sati, infanticide, prostitution and exploitation of man by other men. Lack of suitable bachelors or brides in one’s own caste led to some immoral practices and crimes.
9. Caste system gave birth to the inhuman and immoral practice of untouchability in the Hindu society. In the ancient period and even in the recent past, a mere touch of an untouchable used to regard as a sin. The so called untouchables remained barred from some social and religious activities and places.
Individual freedom remained crushed under the weight of the evil practice of untouchability. Our Constitution now prohibits this inhuman practice and holds it to be a criminal offence which entails strict punishment.
10. In the past Caste System caused grave injustice to women. It prescribed a double standard of morality, one for man and the other for woman. A man who indulged in any anti-social activity was only rebuked but a woman committing the same act used to face excommunication from her caste and even used to be punished.
Everyone now agrees that basically the caste system, particularly the one which has remained a feature of Indian society, has worked as an evil system of inequality, exploitation and injustice.