Dynamics of caste-based deprivation in child under-nutrition in India
Nutritional deprivation among Indian children is one of the parameters of underdevelopment mentioned in development discourse in recent times. And such deprivation is more often associated with well known socio-economic indicators of deprivation; prominent among them is caste, which ranks the society into a hierarchy in terms of benefit and welfare. Though caste dimension has been frequently considered as a category of understanding deprivation, it is rare to find explicit disadvantage of caste in what is said as transforming capabilities into functioning. While caste disadvantage in any outcome shows a systematic pattern, it is never made clear as to what is the dynamics of this disadvantage in terms of characteristics bearing an association with a given outcome. This paper makes an attempt in illustrating the dynamics of caste-based deprivation considering the case of child under-nutrition. It essentially demonstrates the patterns of differentials in nutrition according to other potential correlates of under-nutrition within SC/ST and others and comments on the limits of translating a given set of capabilities in to functioning/outcome (child nutrition here). It finds that while deprivation gap according to potential correlates is higher in general compared with SC/STs, there is clear demonstration of differential translation of capabilities like education, residential status, work status into outcome like nutrition among the SC/STs vis-…-vis the others. The results are also confirmed with application of a logit model. The study uses the data from National Family Health Survey report (NFHS-2, 1998-99) for the purpose of this illustration.
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