Caste in 21st Century India: Competing Narratives

Econ Polit Wkly. 2012 Mar 12;46(11):40-49.

Abstract

Recent debates regarding inclusion of caste in 2011 Census have raised questions about whether caste still matters in modern India. Ethnographic studies of the mid-20th century identified a variety of dimensions along which caste differentiation occurs. At the same time, whether this differentiation translates into hierarchy remains a contentious issue as does the persistence of caste, given the economic changes of the past two decades. Using data from a nationally representative survey of 41,554 households conducted in 2005, this paper examines the relationship between social background and different dimensions of well-being. The results suggest continued persistence of caste disparities in education, income and social networks.