There is sufficient empirical evidence to suggest that discrimination, defined as absence of equal opportunities, exists before the market as well as in the market against certain social categories in India. Inequality in access to sources of human capital acquisition reinforces inequality in the labour market and vice versa. Apparently, caste‐community discrimination and class discrimination overlap. However, in the case of socially deprived categories, the latter accentuates the former. The impact of modernisation notwithstanding, the inegalitarian sacral tradition of caste still has strong hold over the minds and lives of Indians. The development processes have strengthened caste and community consciousness resulting in the metamorphosis of different social categories into interest groups. With patron‐client relationship as the basis for political mobilization, development policies have favoured the dominant social categories as well as the articulate better‐off sections across all social categories. So it seems that “divinely ordained” social inequities persist in a secular garb, though possibly with reduced inhumanity. Yet, with increasing political assertion of the lower social categories and widening opportunities for social mobility, hegemony of the traditional elite is likely to decline. The change in the composition of the elite should foster non‐brahmanical pragmatic cultural ethos conducive to social mobility and development. The policies designed to promote equal opportunities, taking into account heterogeneity of Indian society, will speed up the process of socio‐economic change.
International Journal of Social Economics – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 1, 1998
Keywords: Discrimination; Equal opportunities; India
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