Scheduling Caste: State-Shaped Identity and Inequality in India

Scheduling Caste: State-Shaped Identity and Inequality in India | Rohini Somanathan

Rohini Somanathan
Institute for Advanced Study
April 11, 2011

In this lecture, Rohini Somanathan, Leon Levy Foundation Member, School of Social Science, explores the emergence and the consequences of the strategy adopted by the Indian state to equalize opportunity. In the 1950s, the several thousand castes that constitute Indian society were placed into four official categories. These subsequently formed the basis of identifying disadvantage and compensating for it through affirmative action. Given the heterogeneity within official categories and the historical fluidity of social hierarchies in India, state activism in shaping identity has made labels of disadvantage open to manipulation and has made it harder to adequately address the most serious forms of economic inequality.