I used to get rather irritated by some of the Europeans' (okay, only one) annoying habit of conflating the caste with the class. Of course, none of the attributes of the elite class and the working class could be applied to the caste system in the past. There were levels of shame and pride associated with the caste system in such a way that people of equal economic standings were still divided by the caste rules.
I was going through Louis Dumont's 'Homo Hierarchicus'. Though I don't agree with him completely, as I have more data in the form of genetics compared to him, some of his observations are sublime.
He discusses about European view of the caste system under the section, "Caste as the limiting case of known institutions", whether it's a religious or simply 'social' phenomenon in the eye of Europeans(stereotypical Westerners). His one observation around 40 years ago still finds echo in at least one European's naive view of the caste system that I have come across.
"...nowadays Hindus often assert to Westerners that caste is a social and not a religious matter. It is clear that the motivation here is quite different: it is mainly a question of finding some justification for the institutions from a Western point of view, the point of view usually accepted by the educated Hindu."[Emphasis mine]
Of course, the European that I know has made up his mind based on some Hindus' explanation on this phenomenon.