This article examines the social composition of public institutions in Allahabad, and specifically, the share of different castes and communities in positions of power and influence - the Press Club, the university faculty, the Bar Association, the police, and the commanding positions in trade unions, non-governmental organisations, media houses, among other public institutions. These turn out to be heavily dominated by a small group of upper castes - Brahmins and Kayasthas in particular. Disadvantaged castes, for their part, are largely relegated to subordinate or menial positions. The findings raise troubling questions about the resilience of caste hierarchies. Aside from better enforcement of reservation norms, there is an urgent need for more voluntary attention to diversity in public life, of the sort that has significantly reduced ethnic or gender imbalances in other countries.