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Why Caste Matters

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.

Caste and Electoral Outcomes

Understanding the relation of caste and electoral outcomes merely in terms of arithmetic runs is fundamentally fallacious. It fails to factor in the element of mutual repulsion among castes and the multiplicity of hierarchies. Shift from caste as a system to caste as an identity makes caste-arithmetic explanations of election results all the more questionable.

Caste and Power in Villages of Colonial Bengal

An exposition of four court cases demonstrates that by the late 1920s, the educated middle classes wielded the colonial state apparatus. Moreover, the colonial state had partially delinked the premodern affiliation of local muscle to the local hubs of power. Therefore, at the village level, local malcontents were isolated and booked for lawbreaking. Villagers/village communities were located within a caste-based social structure, though caste hierarchies in Tamluk seemed more fluid. They also had the option to activate the (ideally) caste-neutral state apparatus, which sharpened their perceptions of legal subjectivity, and increased their stake in the government.

When ‘Anybody Can Be Brahmin’

The appointment of Dalit priests to temples in Kerala has been engendered by the growing departure of Brahmin youth from priestly jobs, coupled with existing aspirations of the lower castes to become priests in Brahminical temples. This move is aimed at the formation of a cohesive “Hindu community” through the reconfiguration of caste practices, not the eradication of caste.

Caste, Contemporaneity and Assertion

This article is in response to the opinions and views expressed in the “Caste and Class” special (EPW, 19 November 2016). An evolutionary and historical method has not helped us to understand the caste system and its exploitative nature in its entirety. Therefore, we need to analyse it from a new perspective which can explain the caste system by critically looking at assertion of both, the so-called upper castes and Dalits together.

The 'Silence' of the Marathas

The signals of the silent Maratha morchas are loud; the Maharashtra government must act.

On the Ambedkar–Gandhi Debate

In response to the discussions around Arundhati Roy’s introduction to B R Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, this article draws on Ambedkar’s views on caste in government policy to reiterate his continuing relevance today.

Exclusion within the Excluded

An investigation into the trends in economic disparities within the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the past three decades (1983-2012) shows that the economic disparity ratio has increased substantially for both SCs and STs. The increase is much more in the case of the SCs. The economic inequality (Gini coefficient) has increased for both SCs and STs in urban India. In rural areas, it has increased for the SCs but has remained almost the same for the STs. In the post-economic reforms period (1993-2012), there is an unambiguous increase in inequality among both SCs and STs, and in the interstate inequality within the SCs and STs, for both rural and urban areas.

Reconciling Gandhi with Ambedkar

This article carries forward the discussion on the controversy between M K Gandhi and B R Ambedkar occasioned by Arundhati Roy's essay, "The Doctor and the Saint." It takes note of Rajmohan Gandhi's criticisms of Roy in "Independence and Social Justice: The Ambedkar-Gandhi Debate" (EPW, 11 April 2015) and Roy's response, "All the World's a Half-Built Dam" (EPW, 20 June 2015) to stress that the views of Gandhi and Ambedkar are not as conflicting as they are made out to be.

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