Since 1950, the country has enacted many laws and social initiatives to protect and improve the socioeconomic conditions of its lower caste population.
Some scholars of caste have considered jati to have its basis in religion, assuming that in India the sacred elements of life envelop the secular aspects; for example, the anthropologist Louis Dumont described the ritual rankings that exist within the jati system as being based on the concepts of religious purity and pollution.
This view has been disputed by other scholars, who believe it to be a secular social phenomenon driven by the necessities of economics, politics, and sometimes also geography.
Jeaneane Fowler says that although some people consider jati to be occupational segregation, in reality the jati framework does not preclude or prevent a member of one caste from working in another occupation.
Varna represents a closed collection of social orders whereas jati is entirely open-ended, thought of as a "natural kind whose members share a common substance." Any number of new jatis can be added depending on need, such as tribes, sects, denominations, religious or linguistic minorities and nationalities.
Thus, "Caste" is not an accurate representation of jati in English.
In the context of politically active modern India, where job and school quotas are reserved for affirmative action based on castes, the term has become a sensitive and controversial subject. Hart, central aspects of the later Indian caste system may originate from the ritual kingship system prior to the arrival of Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism in India.