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

A+| A| A-

Why Caste Matters

Reading Electoral Outcomes through the Optic of Caste

A response to “Caste and Electoral Outcomes: Misreading Hierarchy and the Illusion of Numbers” by Dipankar Gupta (EPW, 22 June 2019) analyses the continued role of caste as a medium in electoral politics and the function of caste identity.

A short version of this was published on 29 June 2019 in the Hindi edition of The Print.

The elections are over and scholars as well as politicians have begun to argue that this election has proved the end of caste-based politics. This should be a welcome narrative in a democracy, where people rise above their primordial sentiments and elect their public representatives on their individual merit, past performance and their potential to deliver to their constituency rather than simply choosing them on the basis of ones caste or religion. In pursuit of this ideal of democracy and ethical citizenship, it is natural for us to evaluate the role of categories such as caste after every election.

Recently in the pages of EPW (Caste and Electoral Outcomes: Misreading Hierarchy and the Illusion of Numbers), Dipankar Gupta has written an article advising the fast-paced journalists and political pundits to rethink on the central role that they accord to caste in every election analysis. He argued that while emphasising the role of caste in elections, analysts commit two fallacies. One is that they assume that the two proximate caste groups in the hierarchy of caste could easily foster solidarity and vote for one party or a candidate. Gupta on the contrary argues that such a solidarity among castes is not possible because each caste has pride in themselves and also look down upon each other, hence this mutual repulsion among castes becomes a roadblock in their coming together on the basis of their caste ideology. In arguing this Gupta cites his earlier research work which proved that castes like Jats and Gurjars who, even though belonging to similar peasant category, could rarely accord respect to each other.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

INR 59

(Readers in India)

$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.