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Ashok Kotwal
GST Explainer: Introduction
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Seventeen years after its framework was formed, India’s biggest tax reform – the goods and ... read on »
Introducing a new feature: ‘Explainers’
Posted on: 16 Oct 2017
Our day-to-day lives are tossed around due to economic changes, resulting sometimes from g ... read on »
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »

Topic: Caste

Caste and credit: Not such a woeful tale?
Sunil Mitra Kumar , Ragupathy Venkatachalam
Posted on: 11/09/2017 09:51:30
Topics:   Caste , Finance


Caste is an enduring predictor of economic status in India and caste-based discrimination continues to pervade several spheres of life. What about rural lending? This column suggests that most caste-wise differences in access to loans reflect differences in application rates and only a smaller part are due to discrimination: backward caste-members are a lot less likely to apply for loans than the advantaged groups.
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Estimating intergenerational income mobility in rural India
Shariq Mohammed
Posted on: 03/07/2017 09:36:18

For developing countries, it is difficult to find income mobility studies that rely on datasets linking parents with their children. Using a panel dataset spanning 1994-2012, this column presents improved estimates of intergenerational income mobility in rural India, which is found to be higher than analogous evidence from other developing countries. While India is progressing towards cross-caste equality, it is at a disappointingly slow rate.
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Backward or dominant? Political economy of demand for caste-based quotas
Ashwini Deshpande , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 30/06/2017 09:57:37
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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The battle for backwardness
Rohini Somanathan
Posted on: 22/02/2017 10:05:23

Ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab, the state government granted ‘Other Backward Classes’ status to Rajput Sikhs. In this article, Rohini Somanathan contends that caste reservations first emerged to promote equal treatment in a society where untouchability was widely practised, but have now degenerated into a scramble for privilege and a catalyst for communal conflict.
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Insights from long-term studies of Indian villages
Himanshu , Praveen K. Jha , Gerry Rodgers
Posted on: 23/09/2016 10:06:52

Much of our knowledge of change in rural areas depends on longitudinal village studies. Drawing upon a number of village studies carried out over the years in India, this column provides a broad picture of how the economic and social structures of villages are changing, and the consequences for production, employment, migration, inequality and other key issues.
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Socially disadvantaged groups and microfinance in India
Jean-Marie Baland , Rohini Somanathan , Lore Vandewalle
Posted on: 16/05/2016 03:12:36

The benefits of microfinance are in the details. This column takes a look at lending by commercial banks in India to self-help groups – smaller, informal community-based groups – as a new and successful microfinance initiative. Different ways of thinking about getting credit to the poorest and most marginalised in society can work, but only if the institutions are properly geared up for their customers
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Caste quotas in politics and development outcomes
Francesca R. Jensenius
Posted on: 14/04/2016 09:25:35

To guarantee the political inclusion of the historically marginalised groups, electoral quotas have been in place for them in India since 1950. Analysing the constituency-level impact of quotas for Scheduled Castes in state assemblies, this column finds no detectable effects on overall development or redistribution to Scheduled Castes during 1971-2000. However, these quotas have had several important positive effects beyond development.
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Increasing economic divide within backward castes
Ashish Singh
Posted on: 28/03/2016 00:26:22

While the high level of socioeconomic inequality between the forward and backward caste groups in India is well documented, there is little research on inequalities within the backward caste groups. This column finds that economic divide within Scheduled Castes and within Scheduled Tribes has been on the rise over the past three decades.
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How has land acquisition impacted dalits? A case study from Maharashtra
Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 17/12/2015 09:56:48
Topics:   Caste , Land


Land ownership in Indian villages is inextricably linked to caste, with dalits owing little or no land. Based on a survey in Maharashtra, this column assesses the impact of land acquisition and subsequent development on dalits vis-à-vis non-dalits. The findings suggest that while economic development can make inroads into the caste system, it possibly cannot end casteism in the short run.
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Impact of the two-child limit for local politicians
S. Anukriti , Abhishek Chakravarty
Posted on: 02/03/2015 00:00:00

Some Indian states debar individuals with more than two children from contesting local elections. This column finds that while the law has significantly reduced fertility among the general population in those states, it has worsened the sex ratio at birth among upper-caste families. It suggests that Indians have strong local leadership aspirations, and that policies altering access to political power can effect social change.
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Does affirmative action reduce productivity? The case of Indian Railways
Ashwini Deshpande , Thomas Weisskopf
Posted on: 21/01/2015 00:00:00

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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Do awareness programmes on TV help change prejudices?
Ritwik Banerjee , Nabanita Datta Gupta
Posted on: 24/11/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste , Jobs


Awareness-based TV programmes, such as Satya Mev Jayate hosted by Bollywood film personality Aamir Khan, aim to change deep-seated prejudices of the society. To what extent do such programmes influence behaviour? This column seeks to answer this question by examining results from an experiment relating to caste attitudes of students from private business schools in New Delhi.
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Did caste-based reservation increase schooling of beneficiaries?
Guilhem Cassan
Posted on: 16/10/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste , Education


Reservation for backward classes in schools has been in place in India since independence. This column uses a unique historical event that took place in the 1970s in India to evaluate the effect of access to reservation on school attainment of Scheduled Castes. It finds that these policies benefitted male SCs only.
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Quotas and schooling decisions
Gaurav Khanna
Posted on: 03/04/2014 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste , Education


Affirmative action, as an instrument for bridging inequalities across social groups, has been a contentious issue for decades. This column analyses the impact of reservation in public sector jobs and colleges for ‘Other Backward Classes’, implemented in India in the 1990s. It finds that the policy did incentivise beneficiaries to stay in school longer so that they could take advantage of quotas.
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How backward are ‘Other Backward Classes’ in India?
Ashwini Deshpande , Rajesh Ramachandran
Posted on: 04/12/2013 00:00:00

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
Ashwini Deshpande , Smriti Sharma
Posted on: 23/09/2013 00:00:00
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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Caste and entrepreneurship in India
Lakshmi Iyer , Tarun Khanna , Ashutosh Varshney
Posted on: 26/08/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste


It is now widely accepted that the lower castes have risen in Indian politics. Has there been a corresponding change in their entrepreneurial activity? This column seeks to answer this question by analysing comprehensive data on enterprise ownership in India. It is found that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are under-represented in ownership of private enterprises, and employment generated by private enterprises. This trend is widespread across space and time.


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Does caste influence access to agricultural loans in rural India?
Sunil Mitra Kumar
Posted on: 03/06/2013 00:00:00
Tags:   credit


Increasing access to agricultural credit in rural India is a major policy priority. This column examines whether farmers’ access to formal agricultural loans depends on their caste. It is found that while commercial banks do not discriminate against lower caste farmers in lending, cooperative banks do as they are prone to interest-group capture at the local level.
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The role of informal caste networks in public service delivery
Sriniketh Nagavarapu , Sheetal Sekhri
Posted on: 06/05/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Corruption , Caste


Large public programmes designed at the national level are often undermined by corruption at the local level. This column proposes local level monitoring and enforcement through informal networks as a potential low-cost solution. It shows how caste networks can facilitate monitoring and enforcement in the Targeted Public Distribution System, and infers implications of these findings for the food security bill.
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Casteism and Corruption: Beyond Political Correctness
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste , Corruption
Tags:   West Bengal


Sociologist Ashis Nandy’s recent remark that most corrupt people belong to lower castes drew a lot of flak. In this column, Pranab Bardhan shares his views on what he considers to be the two substantive issues coming out of this controversy – Freedom of expression, and the corruptibility of historically disadvantaged groups.
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Political reservation in India: The effect on poverty
Nishith Prakash
Posted on: 10/12/2012 00:00:00

Over the last 60 years, India’s Constitution has set aside seats in parliament for people from historically discriminated groups, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This column documents one of the first studies to quantify the effects of this policy on poverty. It finds that while more politicians from Scheduled Tribes help to reduce poverty, politicians from Scheduled Castes have no overall effect.
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Caste dominance in rural India: Cause and effect
Siwan Anderson
Posted on: 16/08/2012 00:00:00
Tags:   rural India


Rural India remains a caste-based society. This column explores why caste continues to play such an important role and what the effects are. It argues that trade and agricultural productivity suffer, as well as the functioning of democracy.
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The persistence of caste in India: An economic explanation
Kaivan Munshi
Posted on: 16/07/2012 00:00:00
Topics:   Caste
Tags:   networks


Despite many efforts by the government and by civic institutions, the caste system continues to have a firm hold on Indian society. This column presents an economic explanation for this persistence and argues that economic development rather than social engineering may be the most effective way to dismantle this system.
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