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Untouchability and Public Infrastructure

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Caste rules prohibit the sharing of water between castes as a contact made by an untouchable with water ritually taints the source. Despite untouchability practices being outlawed by the Constitution of India, they are still vigorous and violently enforced. This is what is investigated in this article. The aim is to evidence a relationship between the number of acts of violence against untouchables and the way water is distributed. Our results show that, the more individual the source, the less scope there is for potential ritual pollution and hence, the lower the number of violent acts against untouchables. This is the first analysis, to the best of our knowledge, that quantifies and evidences the enforcement of untouchability rules with regard to water distribution. This paper underlines that water improvement programs have the nice side effect of alleviating caste based violence on top of improving sanitation.

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File URL: ftp://mse.univ-paris1.fr/pub/mse/CES2010/10074.pdf
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Paper provided by Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne in its series Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne with number 10074.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:10074

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Keywords: Castes; India; water distribution.;

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  1. Dayton-Johnson, Jeff, 2000. "Determinants of collective action on the local commons: a model with evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 181-208, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Hoff, Karla & Pandey, Priyanka, 2012. "Making up people -- the effect of identity on preferences and performance in a modernizing society," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6223, The World Bank.

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