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Dominant or Backward? Political Economy of the Demand for Quotas by Jats, Patels and Marathas


  • Ashwini Deshpande

    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics)

  • Rajesh Ramachandran

    (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Goethe University, Frankfurt)


Using data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), this paper examines the claims of three communities, viz., Jats in Haryana, Patels in Gujarat and Marathas in Maharashtra, to be classified as Other Backward Classes (OBC) in order to gain access to affirmative action. Comparing these three groups to the other major caste groups - Brahmins, Other Forward Castes, existing OBCs and Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SC and STs) in their respective states – on socio-economic indicators such as household consumption expenditure, poverty, access to infrastructure, self-declared practice of untouchability, education and occupational status, we find that that these three communities are closer to the dominant groups – Brahmins and Other Forward Castes - than to the existing disadvantaged groups - OBCs and SC-STs. Thus, their claim to backwardness is not justified by empirical data. We then examine the material basis of their anxieties in the context of structural changes in the Indian economy, particularly agriculture. We also investigate their networks and political connections that explain their success in mobilizing large numbers in support of their demands.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "Dominant or Backward? Political Economy of the Demand for Quotas by Jats, Patels and Marathas," Working papers 268, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:268

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "The Changing Contours of Intergroup Disparities and the Role of Preferential Policies in a Globalizing World- Evidence from India," Working papers 267, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    2. David Neumark & Harry Holzer, 2000. "Assessing Affirmative Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 483-568, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ashwini Deshpande & Rajesh Ramachandran, 2016. "The Changing Contours of Inter group Disparities and the Role of Preferential Policies in a Globalizing World: Evidence from India," Working Papers id:11519, eSocialSciences.

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    More about this item


    Affirmative Action; Caste; Quotas; Education; India;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)

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