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

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Structural Transformation among Scheduled Castes in India

A Jati-level Analysis

The rate of transition from agricultural work to non-agricultural employment for more than 150 jatis listed as Scheduled Castes across 12 Indian states is examined by utilising the population census of 1991 and 2011. Expanding the limited literature on jati-level dynamics, the paper sheds light on the nature of intra-caste disparities versus inter-caste inequalities. A significant heterogeneity exists across SC jatis in terms of experiencing structural transformation, and yet in multiple instances, the aggregate experience of SCs as a group is well approximated by the median SC jati.

Policies to address social inequalities in India are designed and implemented on the basis of constitutional classifi - cation of different castes and tribes into groups such as the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and others (often referred to as “general”). Given this premise, offi cial data collected on castes is usually published at the level of administrative categories, and not individual castes. Empirical research on socio-economic inequalities, therefore, can at most comment on the dynamics of inequality at the level of these broad categories. It is nonetheless intuitive that in reality, the social, economic, and political experiences of Indians are likely to vary at the level of the specifi c jati and not necessarily at the level of aggregated categories. For example, the socio-economic trajectories of Brahmins from Uttar Pradesh (UP) are likely to be signifi cantly different from that of the Kayasthas from West Bengal, while both will still be identifi ed as “others” in all offi cial datasets. One may question the extent to which such aggregation misses the actual variation in socio-economic experiences across castes.

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Published On : 22nd Mar, 2024

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