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Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification among Dalits in Rural India

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  • Ira Gang

    ()
    (Rutgers University, USA, Osteuropa-Institut, Regensburg (Institut for East European Studies))

  • Kunal Sen
  • Myeong-Su Yun

Abstract

The caste system – a system of elaborately stratified social hierarchy – distinguishes India from most other societies. Among the most distinctive factors of the caste system is the close link between castes and occupations, especially in rural India, with Dalits or Scheduled Castes (SC) clustered in occupations that were the least well paid and most degrading in terms of manual labour. Along with the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the SCs have the highest incidence of poverty in India, with poverty rates that are much higher than the rest of the population. Since independence, the Indian government has enacted affirmative action policies in educational institutions and public sector employment for SCs and STs. In addition, in the more populous states of India, political parties have emerged that are strongly pro-SC in their orientation in the more populous states of India. We use five rounds of all-India employment data from the National Sample Survey quinquennial surveys from 1983 to 2004 to assess whether these political and social changes has led to a weakening of the relationship between low caste status and occupational segregation that has existed historically in India. We find evidence that the occupational structure of the SC households is converging to that of the non-scheduled households. However, we do not find evidence of a similar occupational convergence for ST households.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and South-East European Studies) in its series Working Papers with number 309.

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Length: 38
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ost:wpaper:309

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Keywords: caste; occupational diversification; poverty; India;

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References

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  1. Rohini Pande, 2002. "Can mandated political representation increase policy influence for disadvantaged minorities? Theory and evidence from India," Discussion Papers 0102-62, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
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  8. Ira N. Gang & Kunal Sen & Myeong-Su Yun, 2008. "Poverty In Rural India: Caste And Tribe," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(1), pages 50-70, 03.
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