Caste in and out of place: State, market, and culture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Caste permeates the state, the economy, and culture posing administrative, political, and legal conundrums many of which are addressed in a well-ordered manner. Nevertheless, caste is rarely treated as an independent policy issue in India. In a neo-Macaulayan vein, and following the leads of Gurcharan Das and Satish Saberwal, this chapter argues that for the state to remain strong and autonomous, it should not be reduced to caste arithmetic. In order not to underwrite caste in perpetuity, reservation policies should be periodically adjusted with a view to foster the “self-development of individuals as reasonable persons” capable of dealing with the complexities of India’s megasociety. At the same time, public policy must acknowledge that caste is part of the chemistry of society. Castes are vast resilient networks offering economic life chances and cultural life worlds. International advocacy networks, as well as statistically informed sociological analysis, can inform policy to provide more opportunities for social mobility at less costs in the form of resentment and inefficiency. Finally, the chapter discusses what a policy addressing excessive caste pride and prejudice may entail
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCaste matters in public policy : Issues and perspectives
EditorsRahul Choragudi, Sony Pellissery, N. Jayaram
Number of pages22
Place of PublicationLondon & New York
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9780367544522, 9780367612672
ISBN (Electronic)9781003104919
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

"Caste in India, despite its historical resilience, has been undergoing transformation since independence. If caste as a system of rigid stratification has been on the decline, castes as autonomous interest-serving groups have
been on ascendance. This book critically engages with the changing
notions of caste and its intersection with public policy in India. It
discusses key issues such as social security, internal reservation, the
idea of Most Backward Classes, caste issues among non-Hindu religious
communities, caste in census, caste in market, and service castes and
urban planning. Drawing on in-depth case studies from states including
Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and
West Bengal, the volume explores the cyclical process of how caste
drives policies, and how policies in turn shape the reality of caste in
India. It looks at the impact of factors like protective discrimination,
adult franchise and democratic decentralization, horizontal and vertical
mobilisation, land reforms, and religious conversion on social mobility,
and traditional hierarchy in India. Empirically rich and analytically
rigorous, this book will be an excellent reference for scholars and
researchers of public policy, public administration, sociology,
exclusion studies, social work, law, history, economics, political
science, development studies, social anthropology, and political
sociology. It will also be of interest to public policy and development
practitioners"-- Provided by publisher.

ID: 321828748