ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Classes and Communities

In the Indian context, classes and communities do not form interchangeable categories. Caste, a defining feature of the community in India, has been a vital socio-economic institution since historical times. But it is Indian politics, especially since post-independence, that has been shaped by competing communities and the ascendancy "acquired" by certain communities over the other. However, as this article suggests, the two categories are not wholly disparate; rather it is the middle class that has been largely responsible for spearheading the interests of their respective communities. A potent tool in this ascendancy has been the issue of "reservations".

I t is a great honour to be invited to deliver the first A K Dasgupta Memorial Lecture instituted by the Bengal Economic Association. I did not know A K Dasgupta in my early years at the Delhi School of Economics, although his name was a byword among the economists there: K N Raj, Khaleeq Naqvi and, of course, Amartya Sen.

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