Jane Austen lives -- in India. Once upon a time, the course of your life was determined by the status you were born into. As cheeky as Jane Austen could be, she knew perfectly well that each character's income and background determined their marital fates. The young lady of the manor better not run off with the dashing blacksmith, because marrying him would cast her out of all "polite society." You might say that things aren't really so different today; if a Yale Law graduate married a janitor, the rehearsal dinner might be a bit tense. But if the janitor magically put herself through law school -- and it does happen, despite the many barriers -- allowances would be made.
That's not true yet in India, however, as Seema Chowdhury of Women's E-News reports. Young people from different castes are mixing in the new capitalist system's computer schools, call centers, and other new enterprises that depend on talent and drive instead of family status -- and the results are tearing families apart. Read more about the heartbreak that comes as a country shifts from the tradition of assigned status to capitalist mobility and how it affects real life here.