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Ashwini Deshpande | Ideas for India

Ashwini Deshpande
Delhi School of Economics
ashwini@econdse.org
Ashwini Deshpande is Professor of Economics at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India. Her Ph.D. and early publications have been on the international debt crisis of the 1980s. Subsequently, she has been working on the economics of discrimination and affirmative action issues, with a focus on caste and gender in India, as well as on aspects of the Chinese economy: poverty, inequality, regional disparities and gender discrimination. She has published extensively in leading scholarly journals and has edited several books. She is the author of "Grammar of Caste: economic discrimination in contemporary India", OUP, 2011 and "Affirmative Action in India", OUP, Oxford India Short Introductions series, 2013. She received the EXIM Bank award for outstanding dissertation (now called the IEDRA Award) in 1994, and the 2007 VKRV Rao Award for Indian economists under 45. 


Articles By Ashwini Deshpande
Backward or dominant? Political economy of demand for caste-based quotas
Posted On: 30 Jun 2017

Topics:   Caste

Jats in Haryana have been demanding reservation under the ‘Other Backward Classes’ category. This column analyses socioeconomic data for three castes – Jats in Haryana, Patels in Gujarat, and Marathas in Maharashtra - in relation to other broad caste groups in their respective states, in order to examine the validity of their claim to ‘backwardness’.
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Women and the Indian job market: Glass ceiling or sticky floor?
Posted On: 10 Jun 2016

Topics:   Gender , Jobs

The gender wage gap among regular wage and salaried workers in India was 49% in 2009-10. This column finds the bulk of the gap is due to discrimination against women in the job market, rather than different wage earning potential of men and women. The gender wage gaps are higher among lower earning workers.
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Adult education, knowledge and confidence
Posted On: 21 Sep 2015

Topics:   Education , Gender

Illiteracy, in India and elsewhere, is largely a female phenomenon. This column analyses a literacy programme aimed at adult women in India and finds that it has impacts beyond increasing literacy and numeracy. The general knowledge of participants improved and they were less likely to be over-confident about what they know – attributes that may contribute to better educating their children and absorbing new information.
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Does affirmative action reduce productivity? The case of Indian Railways
Posted On: 21 Jan 2015


Critics of job reservations argue that such policies have an adverse effect on work efficiency and productivity. This column analyses the effect of job reservations in the Indian Railways – the world’s largest employer subject to affirmative action. It finds that having a larger proportion of lower-caste employees is not associated with lower productivity; in top-tier jobs, in some cases, it is actually associated with higher productivity.
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How backward are ‘Other Backward Classes’ in India?
Posted On: 04 Dec 2013


Since reservations were provided in government bodies for lower castes in the early 90s, ‘Other Backward Classes’ have been an important force in Indian politics at all levels. Has there been a corresponding change in traditional economic hierarchies? This column finds significant gaps in the standard of living between OBCs and higher castes. However, there is evidence of catch-up among younger people.
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Entrepreneurship or survival? Caste and gender of small business in India
Posted On: 23 Sep 2013

Topics:   Caste , Gender

Can entrepreneurship be a vehicle for social mobility in India? This column analyses data from micro, small and medium enterprises, and finds clear and persistent caste and gender disparities in virtually all enterprise characteristics in the sector. It makes a case for concerted policy action to correct historical caste-based inequalities.
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