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Occupational Mobility: How Much Does Caste Matter?

This paper reports the findings of a study conducted in 2007 on the relationship between caste and occupation in Pune and investigates the patterns of intergenerational occupational mobility across four generations and different caste groups in the city. It finds that while caste is not strongly associated with occupational mobility in general, it is certainly important for upward mobility though the extent of mobility is different among different castes. The maratha-kunbis and dalits are the greatest beneficiaries of upward mobility though there is a difference in the mode of their journey. The Other Backward Classes lag behind these two and some castes among them even show stagnation as far as mobility is concerned.

SPECIAL ARTICLE

Occupational Mobility: How Much Does Caste Matter?

Rajeshwari Deshpande, Suhas Palshikar

This paper reports the findings of a study conducted in 2007 on the relationship between caste and occupation in Pune and investigates the patterns of intergenerational occupational mobility across four generations and different caste groups in the city. It finds that while caste is not strongly associated with occupational mobility in general, it is certainly important for upward mobility though the extent of mobility is different among different castes. The maratha-kunbis and dalits are the greatest beneficiaries of upward mobility though there is a difference in the mode of their journey. The Other Backward Classes lag behind these two and some castes among them even show stagnation as far as mobility is concerned.

This study was conducted from funds made available by the Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Pune. We wish to thank the Centre for support. We also thank Nitin Birmal and Rajendra Vora for helping us in formulating this study. Nitin Birmal and Vivek Ghotale helped us in coordinating the fieldwork. We thank students of the Department of Politics and Public Administration of Pune University for their support in field investigations. Sonali Nagmote helped us with data entry. Ghanshyam Shah prodded us into doing this work and later, along with Yogendra Yadav also did a peer review. We are grateful to both of them. Jayant Lele and Rajendra Vora commented on the initial findings of this work.

Rajeshwari Deshpande (rajeshwarid@unipune.ernet.in) and Suhas Palshikar (suhas@unipune.ernet.in) teach political science at the University of Pune.

Economic & Political Weekly

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august 23, 2008

S
tories about the resilience of caste as an institution abound alongside predictions about its dwindling role as an explanatory factor in understanding social life, emerging hierarchies and power structures in contemporary India. This paradoxical situation is summed up in Srinivas (1996 and 2003) and Shah (2007). Somewhere between these two extremes lies the reality which the researcher must decipher. There are at least three dimensions that need to be investigated before arriving at some understanding of caste in contemporary India: the changing pattern of interaction between caste and politics since the late 1980s; the change in identity and the rise of caste associations in the post-Mandal period and the issue of caste-occupation linkages. The growing literature on voting and election studies points to the fact that the interaction between caste and politics spills beyond electoral politics and at the same time, is shaped by many socio-economic factors. Therefore, it becomes imperative for a political scientist to look at the more complex patterns obtaining in the field of social configurations. Here, we report the findings of an exploratory study of the relationship between caste and occupation. In recent years, some scholars have taken recourse to macro-level data to conjecture about this relationship. Apart from throwing some light on the linkages between caste and occupation, these studies also help in shaping further investigations on the basis of hypothetical formulations. These are represented by Sheth (1999 and 1999a) and Shah (2002) both of whom use the data from National Election Studies (NES).

While Sheth and Shah attempt to capture the contemporary linkage between caste and occupation, Sanjay Kumar et al try to map the occupational mobility across two generations. Our study, too, attempts to investigate the patterns of intergenerational occupational mobility across caste groups. Kumar et al (2002 and 2002a) may be appropriately described as pioneers of contemporary mobility studies in the sociological analyses of Indian society. Using the NES datasets, they have made an effort to focus on the issue of occupational mobility and its relation with caste. The present study follows the lead of Kumar et al, but goes a step f urther in its investigation. Thus, it may be seen as constituting part of the growing literature that seeks to locate the casteclass debate firmly in the empirical context for drawing conclusions that could have a larger relevance. It aims at exploring and comparing the extent of occupational mobility among different caste groups in an urban setting. Does a modern urban location help traditionally disadvantaged caste groups in overcoming the disadvantage and entering into newer and “higher” occupations? Is there a linear pattern across generations? Is

this intergenerational trend getting accentuated as far as the three million. Of these, around 43 per cent reside in slums. contemporary two generations are concerned? Can we say that Around 60 per cent of the total population of the city in 2001 was

(upward) mobility is the same among different caste groups; i e, do different caste groups have the same rate of movement? These are some of the issues we shall address in the course of this paper.

1 The Study

The study was done in Pune, traditionally a city dominated by the upper castes. At the turn of the century, Pune experienced a crucial transformation when it became the hub for institutions of higher education attracting students from all over the country. Around this time, the city also witnessed the rapid growth of its information technology (IT) industry and related commercial and service sectors bringing in skilled professionals. As the city is set to become a metropolis in the new century, it poses a question: has the city been able to provide space for puncturing the traditional hierarchies and l inkages between caste, occupation and status? Does the average person in Pune today live in an occupational environment that is marked by vertical movement compared to his or her forefathers? Is upward mobility open to all caste groups on an equal scale or do different caste groups lead i ndependent trajectories of mobility?

Sampling: In a sense, this is a continuation of our earlier study of Pune city [Deshpande 2001, 2004]. However, that study did not capture mobility across generations. This paper focuses exclusively on the question of whether families from different

Table 1: Sample Profile

Demographic Factor Share in Sample

Men 52

Women 48

Below 40 years 58

Illiterates 11

Postgraduates 08

Hindus 77

Muslims 12

Buddhists 07

Marathi speakers 75

Hindi speakers 15

Upper castes 17

Maratha-kunbis 29

OBCs 20

Dalits 21

Residence-since birth 47

Less than 10 years 10

Slum-dwellers 25

Chawl-dwellers 32

Flat-dwellers 30

Table 2: Patterns of Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Pune: 2007 (across four generations – grandparents, parents, respondents and sons/daughters)

% N

Upward mobility 45 486
No mobility 22 242
Downward mobility 17 187
Skewed pattern 15 163
Total 1,078

For explanation of mobility index, see

note appended.

made up of potential earners in the age group of 15-60 and another 6 per cent belonged to the age group of 61 and above. The male-female ratio as per the 2001 Census was 1000:960. The percentage of migrants in the city’s population is on the rise. According to the 1991 Census, around 43 per cent of the total population of the city consisted of migrants and nearly half of them had come to the city more than a decade ago.

There has been much curiosity and speculation about this development’s impact on the city’s demography which has changed its composition, its vicinity and its ambience. However, this study does not go into the growth of the vicinity. Instead, it restricts itself to the changing pattern of occupational changes in the city. We are aware of the redefinition of the space called city – the administrative category of any municipality or municipal corporation. Urban agglomerates are fast emerging and assuming significant social space, the idea of city is being re-imagined in terms of townships, self-sufficient and sprawling residential localities, resulting in more concentrated clustering of social segments as far as residential patterns are concerned. At the same time, identification with the “city” often refers to a loose idea of a “metropolitan neighbourhood”. This development is witnessed in many cities and metropolises of India. The emerging metropolises are swallowing up the social and physical spaces around them, changing both the social and physical maps of many regions. While these developments

occupational locations move upward in terms of the status and potential for income generation from their occupations. For this purpose we selected 14 wards from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) area out of a total of 146 wards. We selected one ward each from the 14 divisions of the city using a random sampling method. The selected wards fairly adequately reflected the changing spatial and social dimensions of Pune city. They include the old city, its extension that took place since the 1960s and the fringe villages that were incorporated in the city in 1997. The s econd stage in sampling was the selection of the respondents. One per cent respondents were selected using the random sample method from the voters’ list of each of the wards. Fieldwork was conducted from March to June 2007. The study is based on 1,223 completed schedules through interviews conducted at the residence of the respondents. (Total targeted sample was 1,746; the achievement rate was around 70 per cent.) This sample frame did not allow us to capture the temporary and mobile segments, p articularly those working in the newly upcoming IT sector. Some basic characteristics of the sampled population of the study are presented in Table 1.

According to the 2001 Census, Pune’s population was 23,76,900. The PMC estimates the population for the year 2006 at around are exciting in themselves, our study chose to keep them in the background.

2 Methodological Issues

We discuss here some methodological issues.

Classifying Occupations: In any discussion of occupation-based class, the issue of classification is the most crucial, complex and debatable [for a review of the debates in sociology, see Crompton; 1993: 49-78]. Sanjay Kumar et al [2002 and 2002a; following the work of Anthony Heath 1981] propose a class schema based on occupational status that distinguishes four broad groupings: the salariat, those engaged in business, manual workers (skilled and unskilled) and the agriculturists. The fourfold occupational grouping gives them in all eight distinct occupational groups for their analysis of intergenerational mobility [Kumar et al 2002]. These groups are not strictly hierarchical in nature and also capture the horizontal occupational movement in a family. Kumar et al admit a certain kind of arbitrariness in the boundaries between these eight classes [Kumar et al 2002: 2984]. Ghanshyam Shah (2002) introduces a basic distinction between the rural and urban occupations. Rural earners are classified on the basis of

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patterns of landownership. The main groups among rural earn-m obility in the Indian context, reported by Kumar et al in their ers in Shah’s scheme, therefore, are farmers with varying degrees studies (2002a: 4093). As per their findings, 70 per cent families of landownership; small peasants, and agricultural labourers; at the all-India level remained stable on the mobility index across while in the urban sector Shah classifies two generations. The incidence of upward

Table 3: Patterns of Intergenerational Occupational

occupational groups in terms of higher pro-Mobility (2007) mobility was also not very impressive at fessionals, white-collar employees, large (Grandfather and father, father and respondent and respondent around 22 per cent. The net upward mobil

and son/daughter)

businesspersons, petty businesspersons ity thus calculates to 15 per cent. This is

Grandfather Father and Respondent and artisans and blue-collar workers and Father Respondent and Son/ understandable since the sample is both Daughter

[Shah 2002:14-15]. rural and urban. However, for the same

Upward mobility 23 36 42

We have started out with the explicit dataset and considering only the urban

Downward mobility 16 23 20

objective of situating the occupational cate- sample, the incidence of upward mobility is

No mobility 61 41 38

gories in the context of their hierarchical still not very high – at 24 per cent. The net

N 362 711 205

location. Our study proceeds with the view upward mobility (excluding those who regthat social structures are made up of Table 4: Education (R) and Mobility (4 generations) istered downward mobility – 11 per cent) is

Illiterate Up to Middle College

unequal divisions; that material inequali- only 13 per cent.1 This comparison allows us

Primary School and Above

ties are enmeshed with lifestyle inequalities to surmise that over the last four genera-

Upward mobility 43 44 45 46

as also inequalities of opportunities and life tions, the residents of Pune have experi-

Downward mobility 14 19 17 18

chances; and that in modern industrial No mobility 16 19 26 22 enced greater upward mobility. It also

social contexts, ideas of status and hierar-Skewed pattern 27 19 12 13 needs to be kept in mind that Kumar et al

N=1,078

chy operate insidiously through occupa-studied mobility only across two generations and therefore the occupational cate-tions. However, they also report that in

Table 5: Occupational Mobility by Gender

gory happens to be one of the most crucial Men Women Average 1971, one could notice only 3 per cent net

differentiating factors in understanding Upward mobility 45 45 45 upward mobility [Kumar et al: ibid]. These

class relations. Besides, we also wanted to Downward mobility 18 17 17 trends towards greater upward mobility No mobility 25 20 22

examine patterns of occupational move- over a period of time (1971-1996-2007) and

Skewed pattern 13 18 15

ment as understood in the sense of move- across two and four generations respec

N=1,078

ment for better or worse class situations. Given these concerns, we adopted occupational categories that implicitly refer to ideas of status attached to various occupations, opportunities for generating wealth and requirement of knowledge skills/technical skills or mere physical labour. Broadly, we have classified occupations into upper or higher, upper middle, middle, lower middle, poor or low and very poor or very low (Appendix I, p 69).

Measuring Mobility: The other exercise that we undertook was to chart the intergeneration mobility for each respondent. Looking at information for four generations of each respondent, and taking into account the occupational history of both male and female members, we designed a mobility index (MI) that would trace the upward or downward mobility within each family over the four generations. This exercise helped us to place each family on a five-point scale of upward mobility, downward mobility, no mobility, skewed pattern and others (where adequate information was not available) (Appendix II, p 69).

3 Extent of Mobility

Based on the MI, 45 per cent families have moved up in the occupational hierarchy during the last four generations taken together, while 17 per cent have moved downward. Though the ratio of upward mobility to downward mobility is almost 2.5:1, we also witness a remarkable picture of net upward mobility (upward mobility – downward mobility = 28 per cent) being greater than “no mobility” and also greater than mixed or “skewed mobility” pattern (22 and 15 per cent, respectively). The trend is remarkable if compared with the overall trends of

Economic & Political Weekly

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august 23, 2008

tively, do not necessarily mean that there is greater democratisation of social spaces. It shows that there is greater opening up of opportunity structures due to the c hanging nature of work and technology-related changes [Kingston 2000: 70].

The upwardly mobile consists of 46 per cent women and 54 per cent men – with only a 2 per cent gap in proportion to their share in the sample. Also, exactly in

Table 6: Occupational Mobility by Years of proportion to their share in Residence in Pune City

the sample, more than 70 per

Less than More than 10 Years 10 Years

cent of the upwardly mobile

Upward mobility 45 45

are either high school edu-

Downward mobility 23 17

cated or college educated.

No mobility 23 22 Those who have been residing Skewed pattern 16

08 in the city for less than 10 N=1,078 years account for a little more

Table 7: Occupational Profile of Earners in

(10 per cent) than their share Pune City: 2000 and 2007
in the sample (8 per cent) 2000 2007
among those with mobility. Upper 09 09
A disaggregated twogeneration picture further shows that upward movement Upper middleMiddleLower middlePoor 17 26 24 14 20 23 21 15
has gained momentum in the Very poor 10 12
fourth generation – compared N 10073 816
to the earlier generations

(grandfather and father and respondent (R) and father). The intergenerational mobility in the next generation of R and the first child is more upwardly inclined, reducing the proportion of both those who report “no mobility” and those who are witnessing a downward movement (Table 4). In the first group of g randfather and father, there is a high percentage of people upper caste earners were in the higher occupations; this proportrapped at the same level of occupation as that of their fathers. tion further increased to 54 per cent in 2007. What is really The percentage rapidly declines in the next two generations and intriguing is the increase of upper caste persons belonging to there is a greater movement both in the upward as well as down-both the lowest two categories. This same trend is witnessed ward direction. We do not find any statistically significant rela-among maratha-kunbis, although a bit weakly: a small increase tionship between education, gender or residence and mobility. of the proportion of upper and upper middle occupation and also

a marginal increase of those belonging to the lowest two occupa-

Table 8: Patterns of Caste and Occupation Linkages in Pune city (2000-07)

tional categories. A slightly reverse picture unfolds in the case of 2000 2007 2000 2007 2000 2007 2000 2007 2000 2007 the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – not much gains at the upper

Upper Castes Maratha Kunbis OBCs SCs Others

Upper 22 29 05 08 0503 02 03 11 04 end, but definite gains at the bottom. And the dalits seem to have Upper middle 25 25 16 22 16 19 06 08 22 32

missed the bus, yet again. Compared to 2000, a few more dalits

Middle 37 23 33 29 24 22 19 17 23 19

are found among the upper occupations, but this is more than off-

Lower middle 08 06 26 17 27 33 31 24 24 24

set by the fact that there is a whopping 8 per cent increase in dalits

Poor 06 12 14 16 17 15 18 16 1415

among the very low occupations.

Verypoor 02 05 06 08 11 08 24 32 06 07

Table 8 only compares the occupational profile of different

N 1,552 142 2,354 218 1,880 161 1,753 169 2,534 126 N=10,073 (2000) and 816 (2007). caste groups at two different points in time. If we take into account a longer-term frame of reference, it appears that maratha Multivariate linear regressions of the mobility variables across -kunbis and dalits have made gains in terms of vertical mobility. these factors do not show any significant correlation of any of Net mobility among the OBCs is 22 per cent, among upper castes it these factors with mobility. (The linear regressions are presented is 25 per cent, 33 per cent among maratha-kunbis and 35 per cent in Table 16 (p 66), Tables 17 and 18 (p 67).) among the dalits. On the other hand, the proportion of non-While net upward mobility in our Pune sample is greater than mobile families among OBCs is at a high of 28 per cent, and so that found at the all-India level, this does not necessarily mean also among dalits. Among the upper castes it is 25 per cent and that a great change has occurred inside Pune city. Compared to among maratha-kunbis, it is the lowest (20 per cent). The pro2000 there is a remarkable stability and continuity of the overall portion of immobile families, however, cannot be the only releoccupational profile of Pune.2 This is perhaps striking in view of vant indicator for our analysis of mobility. Non-mobility is not the development of the IT related industry in and around Pune. essentially indicative of lower occupational status if we check the The 2007 sample captures the workforce of urban professionals profile of the non-mobile families. Among the respondents from who belong to this new wave of Pune’s occupational transforma-the non-mobile families only 15 per cent are working in the poor tion. Yet, in terms of the distribution of occupation-based class and very poor occupations whereas exactly 50 per cent of them categories, there seems to be only a marginal change. Hidden are placed in the middle and upper middle sections. Therefore, within this continuity, however, there is a small but potentially the real test for assessment of the extent of mobility would be significant story. As Table 7 (p 63) shows, a slight shift is observed about the trends of downward mobility across caste groups. If we from 2000 to 2007 in the various cat-check the profile of downwardly

Table 9: Intergenerational Occupational Mobility

egories below the uppermost. The city mobile families, nearly 45 per cent of

among Major Caste Groups (2007) (across four generations)

is probably witnessing the emergence respondents from these families are

Upper Maratha- OBCs SCs Others Total

Castes Kunbis

of a clear-cut polarisation between the placed in the poor and very poor occu-

Upward mobility 43 52 39 52 32 45

top and the bottom – in 2000 the com-pations. Still, the most striking find-

Downward mobility 18 19 17 17 21 17

bined strength of the top two cate-ing of the study would be that the

No mobility 25 20 28 28 27 22

gories (upper and upper middle) was maratha-kunbis have benefited the

Skewed pattern 14 09 16 16 20 15

26 per cent as against the combined most over the last four generations

N =1,078

strength of 24 per cent of the lowest and attained a high degree of upward two categories. This picture changes mobility; their life situation is marked

Table 10: Caste Profile of Groups with Varying Records of Mobility

to a proportion of 29 and 27, respec-Upwardly Downwardly No Skewed Totalby the least stagnation. Though dalits Mobile Mobile Mobility Pattern

tively. In this sense, there is an are the most upwardly mobile, they

Upper castes 17 18 20 17 18

indication of the arrival of the new have not overcome stagnation. This

Maratha-kunbis 33 31 25 17 28

middle class. leaves the OBCs as prisoners of uncer-

OBCs 16 19 24 20 19

tainty. When most others benefited,

SCs 24 15 1528 21

4 Caste and Mobility OBCs have not experienced much

Others 10 17 17 19 14 In the backdrop of this overall picture, N= 1,078 gains in Pune city. Table 10 underlet us now turn to the core issue – how scores these trends. do caste groups relate to occupational mobility and which ones A plain reading of the data would suggest that dalits and marshow indications of vertical mobility? Pune city is traditionally athas have made gains over four generations. However, this trend known for the dominance of the upper castes and their spread to of upward mobility among marathas and dalits needs to be put in various upper occupational locations. This same trend seems to perspective. Do we say that dalits are advancing more rapidly obtain even in contemporary times – in 2000, 47 per cent of the than the upper castes? Does this tally with the picture of caste

64 august 23, 2008

profile of occupational categories shown in Table 8? Perhaps a better understanding could evolve if we take into account the crucial issue of where a caste group starts in on the MI in this race. Our index would record those families that have registered an advance over the last four generations. However, we need to be sensitive to the social trajectory of this journey towards upward mobility. Tables 11 to 15 (pp 65, 66) attempt to plot these different trajectories. This gives us an idea as to where a caste began its journey from.

A caste group may appear to move upwards, but upwards from where? There is a difference in moving upwards from a middle occupational location and from a very low occupational location. The former equips the group for a movement upward; the latter arrests the group’s ability to move upward. For instance, in the top three occupational categories, the grandfather’s generation of the upper castes had a clear advantage over all the other groups. On the other hand, in the same generation, 59 per cent dalits were engaged in very low occupations. Therefore, the upward mobility among the dalits starts from the lowest point.

t opmost. In the next generation, we see a concentration at the middle level and decline in the lowest category. Among our respondents, 30 per cent are among the top two occupational categories. Finally, the youngest generation is galloping towards the upper occupations. Thus, the movement is from limited disadvantage to spectacular advantage.

The OBC families are prisoners of lower middle occupations. For 41 per cent OBC families, the starting point is the lower m iddle occupations. The next generation succeeded in moving only partially upwards, but did not reach the two upper categories. Only in the third generation (of the R) do we find at least one among five OBC persons in the upper two categories. While this proportion has further improved in the youngest generation, 35 per cent OBCs are still found in the lower middle category. In contrast to all other groups, the dalits have had a longer and stronger history of disadvantage – over 75 per cent dalits were in the lowest two occupational categories four generations ago. So, upward mobility meant the movement away from these two categories; from 75 per cent in the generation of

Similarly, Table 15 also shows why the the grandparent of the R, 50 per cent

Table 11: Occupational Profile of Four Generations of Upper Caste

mobility pattern among the OBCs is Grandfather Father Respondent Son/Daughter were found in the two lower cate

more skewed than all other caste Upper 11 16 29 38 gories in the generation of the

groups. As artisans and small farmers, Upper middle 34 33 25 27 p arents of the R. The generation of

the OBC castes were engaged in lower middle and lower occupations three generations ago. In the course of transition from agrarian to industrial economy and from rural to urban e nvirons, the OBCs dispersed both ways – towards lower occupations the respondent for the first time w itnessed some genuine upward mobility and entry into the upper two categories (though only 11 per cent). This gain seems to have slipped from the hands of the dalits in the youngest generation. Though

Middle 39 25 23 25
Lower middle 06 13 06 02
Poor 06 08 12 07
Very poor 05 06 05 02
N 118 276 216 92

sometimes and on occasion, to slightly higher o ccupations.

Looking at the upper castes we find that their journey has been one of consolidating their position. Four generations ago, 45 per cent of the upper caste was in the upper two occupational categories. They also had a very limited handicap in the sense that only 17 per cent belonged to the lowest three cate

Table 12: Occupational Profile of Four Generations of Maratha-Kunbi

Grandfather Father Respondent Son/Daughter
Upper 00 02 08 16
Upper middle 11 12 22 26
Middle 19 36 21 29
Lower middle 37 33 17 13
Poor 09 09 15 12
Very poor 24 08 07 04
N 54 306 142 68

Table 13: Occupational Profile of Four Generations of OBCs

Grandfather Father Respondent Son/Daughter

the proportion of those engaged in the lowest occupations has gone down further, the proportion of p ersons in the upper occupations has actually declined in the youngest generation. This gives the impression that the upward mobility record among the dalits across four generations is s uperficial.

What emerges from Tables 11 to 14 is

gories and just 11 per cent to the two Upper 02 02 03 11 that in the case of both, the upper

lowest categories. While they retain the Upper middle 15 12 19 16 castes and the maratha-kunbis, there

advantage in the upper two categories, Middle 16 25 22 21 is a more or less straightforward linear

it is somewhat inexplicable that the proportion of persons in lower occupations increases among the upper castes after one generation. This riddle continues in the generation of the respondent also. Finally, in the youngest generation, the upper castes achieve further consolidation with almost two in every three persons belonging to the upper

Lower middle 41 36 33 35
Poor 18 18 15 14
Very poor 08 07 08 03
N 100 202 161 63

Table 14: Occupational Profile of Four Generations of SCs

Grandfather Father Respondent Son/Daughter
Upper 00 00 03 03
Upper middle 03 04 08 04
Middle 09 23 17 16

progress over the four generations and the gains are consolidated in the youngest generation now. This helps them consolidate their “upper” position both materially and within the caste hierarchy. In contrast, the upward journey of the dalits seems to have been arrested at the lower middle level itself. It is true that their over

two occupational groups. The marathas Lower middle 13 24 24 27 concentration among the lowest occu
start with a disadvantage. One in every Poor 16 17 16 27 pations has been somewhat dented
three marathas was in the lowest two Very poor 59 32 32 23 over the last few generations, yet the
occupational groups, and none in the N 93 203 169 75 inability of the dalits to gain adequate
Economic & Political Weekly august 23, 2008 65
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entry into the upper occupations is evident from Table 14. This is mobility (Tables 16 to 18). These trends of downward mobility the price they have to pay for the handicap of the starting point. suggest a possible occupational and economic polarisation

emerging within every caste.

5 Contextualising Caste Mobility

In this section, we contextualise the occupational mobility of How Mobile Are Caste Groups? As we noted at the beginning d ifferent caste groups. itself, the most crucial issue is: Does caste matter in the case of

movements of groups across the occupational matrix? On the one Is Urban Space Really Upwardly Mobile? It is necessary to note hand, traditionally caste as a system of stratification survived that overall incidence of vertical mobility is not very large. Except because of its capacity not only to monitor the movements of perhaps in a very tiny section of the society, upward movement groups, but also to regulate the occupational map of the society. across generations is very slow and At the same time, it is common knowl

skewed. This is in contrast to the opti-Table 15: Differential Starting Points: Occupational Profile edge that groups – and more so individuof Grandfathers across Castes

mism of most men and women that their als – managed to escape or defy the logic

Upper Castes Maratha-Kunbis OBCs SCs

sons and daughters would do better than of caste-based occupational segregation.

Upper 11 00 02 00

themselves. What we assuredly witness is But our question is not how much caste

Upper middle 34 11 15 03

a modest picture of 28 per cent “net” succeeded in retaining its control over

Middle 39 19 16 09 mobility, which is further balanced by as Lower middle 06 37 41 13 the occupational destinies of men and

many as 22 per cent families that have Poor 06 09 18 16 women; our question is does caste oper

been stable on the MI – stuck where they Very poor 05 24 08 59 ate today as a regime governing availabil

have been for some generations. It seems that there is limited scope for vertical mobility in the urban space in comparison to the accompanying high expectations. The other factor to be taken into account in assessing the trend towards

N 118 54 100 93

For Tables 11 to 15, total N for grandfather’s generation – 392; Father’s generation – 1,049; Respondents – 816 and Son/ Daughter – 320.

B Std Error Beta T Sig

ity and accessibility of occupational choices to groups in the caste hierarchy. More specifically, this inquiry focuses on assessing the impact of caste (caste group) as a category that imprisons entire groups within the gamut of a certain

Table 16: Multivariate Linear Regressions – What Contributes to Upward Mobility?

upward mobility is the issue of “starting Upper castes .131 .116 .099 2.607 .124 type of occupation. Does caste (caste
point” discussed in the previous section. Maratha-kunbis .179 .045 .166 4.004 .000 group) place restrictions on the ability
While we may find upward mobility OBCs .060 .048 .049 1.261 .208 of groups and their members to move to
among many social sections, their tradi- SCs .209 .049 .173 4.307 .000 a higher occupational strata? This same
tional occupational status might not be Illiterates -.049 .054 -.032 -.927 .354 hypothesis can be seen in a slightly
the same and therefore, upward mobi- Middle school .001 .040 .001 .032 .974 diffe rent and more strident construc
lity would only mean moving out of the lower locations. Another issue is the incidence of down- College and above .039 .043 Gender .01 .029 Period of stay .03 .051 Dependent variable- upward mobility. .037 .013 .019 .934 .435 .670 .350 .663 .503 tion: that caste forces groups to remain where they are or causes their downward fall (in the event of the rise of

ward mobility that most caste groups w itness – 18 per cent among the upper castes, the maratha-kunbis and the OBCs and 12 per cent among the dalits. The development of the city and the economic growth in general, are known to have adverse effects at least on some sections. But what we are witnessing is a more general trend. So, does this mean that the downward trend affects all social sections irrespective of other factors. Multivariate linear regressions with downward mobility as dependent variable do not show any one particular factor having a significant correlation with downward mobility. A profile of respondents from the downwardly mobile families shows that 64 per cent are operating in the lower or lower middle occupations. The level of education does not bear any direct influence on downward mobility as more than 70 per cent of the earners from these families have studied at least up to middle school level. As far as the relationship of caste and mobility goes, the downwardly mobile families come from all caste groups including the maratha-kunbis and the upper castes. In the case of both these groups, their share in the downwardly mobile families is on par or slightly higher than their overall share in the sampled population. Linear regressions show how caste does not bear any statistically significant correlation with the trends of downward modern occupational opportunities).

The impact of the traditionally ordained hierarchy and limitations imposed on the groups’ ability to move vertically in terms of occupations would produce a cluster effect – certain caste groups would be found in large numbers in occupations at a particular level. Some such clustering was detected by those looking at the upper occupational cate gories such as class I government employment, or big and small businesses, etc, Panini (1996: 31-47) also draws attention to this phenomenon. This question of clustering needs to be taken further – rather than taking into consideration the caste-occupation mapping only at one given point in time, it can be more fruitful to look at it in the context of generational shifts, if any. This is what the work reported here does.

Findings reported in the previous section show that caste is not very strongly associated with occupational mobility in general. At the same time, caste is certainly a major factor in predicting upward mobility. In other words, for purposes of upward movement, caste matters; while stagnation and/or downward mobility need not be primarily the function of caste. It is also necessary to note that even in the case of upward mobility, the extent of upward mobility is different among different caste groups – the OBCs in particular do not appear to benefit from the trend towards

august 23, 2008

upward mobility. Tables 9 and 10 show that stagnation is the more prominent feature among castes classified as OBC. They are also lagging behind others as far as their upward mobility is concerned. Unlike the dalits, OBCs did not have the full support of the reservation regime, though token reservations did exist for them. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the situation of the OBCs alerts us to the fact that they are not a homogeneous social group, but only an administrative category. In terms of political mobilisation, consciousness of being victims of the caste hierarchy and socio-economic background, the different castes among the OBCs are at different stages. These factors throw up a skewed pattern of mobility among the OBCs. Besides, many of the castes included in the OBC group, are more likely to move into other horizontally situated occupations (as for instance the artisan castes taking up other new artisan and skill based occupations or service castes entering into the lower service occupations of semi-modern nature; for details see Deshpande 2004). Thus, we find that two differently situated caste groups appear to be the greatest “beneficiaries” of the move towards upward mobility

– maratha-kunbis and the dalits. In a sense, this is not surprising. Maratha-kunbis are the beneficiaries because of their ability to take advantage of opportunities that the modern urban sector offers. Their historical sense of power and relationship with state institutions enables them to appropriate their strategic location and to move beyond agriculture. The material situation of the marathas (residing in Pune and its out

i ncreasingly shows a concentration at the upper levels, there is also a rise in the proportion of those placed at the lower parts of the occupational ladder. Of course, marathas have been traditionally clearly divided between rich and aristocratic maratha families and peasants. The distinction between “maratha” and “kunbi” has also played an important role in the shaping of the internal divisions of this community. However, both these had a background of perceived ideas of superiority based on traditional status. The advent of democracy has more or less confused these distinctions in public life. The politics of the maratha community always tries to underscore the oneness of the maratha-kunbi caste cluster. Yet, at the same time, modern capitalist development and urbanisation, combined with the rise of new maratha leadership through the green revolution and the cooperative sugar factories in the state throws up new patterns of internal stratification among the maratha-kunbi community [for a discussion of issues facing maratha politics, see; Deshpande 2006].

6 Mobility and Stability across Generations

A careful reading of Tables 11 to 14 shows the complexities of the different trajectories not only along the lines of caste groups but also across generations and across occupational categories. Let us first look at the upper castes. In the category of upper occupations, they seem to have a sedate trajectory marked by linear progression. In the case of the upper middle occupations, the third generation (the generation of the R) seems to

Table 17: Regressions: What Contributes to Downward

skirts traditionally) also helps them (at have lost a bit, and it is the same genera-

Mobility?

least a section of them) to move to tion that gains considerably in terms of

B Std Error Beta T Sig

higher occupations. Dalits register greater numbers getting into upper

Upper castes -.016 .037 -.018 -.457 .648

upward mobility mainly due to the fact occupations. From the second genera

Maratha-kunbis -.021 .033 -.027 -.649 .516 that being at the lowest bottom of the OBCs -.03 .036 -.037 -.936 .349 tion onwards, the upper castes have a

occupational hierarchy, even a small SCs -.068 .036 -.037 -.936 .349 steady proportion in the middle occupa

shift from the category of “very low” Illiterates -.033 .040 -.029 -.836 .403 tions; while the third generation

occupation to that of “low occupation” results in upward mobility. So, their upward journey is different from that of the maratha-kunbis. In fact, a large section among the dalits is still trapped in very low occupations [for further discussion of dalits from Pune,

Middle school -.022 .029 -.031 -.770 .442

College and above -.014 .032 -.018 -.453 .650

Gender .013 .021 .019 .650 .516

Period of stay -.037 .038 -.028 -.991 .322

Dependent variable-downward mobility.

Table 18:Regressions: What Contributes to Occupational Stagnation?

recorded sharp decline in the numbers in lower occupations. If we look at the last two generations alone the patterns for the upper castes appear very clear

– rise in upper occupations, stability in the middle and decline in the lower occupations – features of overall well

see; Deshpande 2007]. B Std Error Beta T Sig being and advancement.
Upper castes -.002 .041 -.002 -.061 .951 In the case of the dalits, two things
Advantage Marathas? Compared to all Maratha-kunbis -.067 .036 -.076 -1.843 .066 stand out most clearly – one, the upper
other caste groups, the maratha-kunbi OBCs .002 .039 .003 .068 .946 occupation category shows a plateau.
caste cluster has experienced a consistent advantage over the last four generations. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this development is that a SCs IlliteratesMiddle school College and above Gender -.086 -.007 .049 .006 .048 .040 .044 .032 .035 .023 -.088 -.006 .061 .008 .061 -2.19 -.168 1.526 .195 2.080 .029 .866 .127 .846 .038 This means that dalits, over four generations, are still not into higher occupations in large numbers. Secondly, however, there is a sharp decline across the
sharply polarised stratification is taking Period of stay .013 .042 .010 .333 .739 four generations in the category of very

place among the marathas of Pune. Dependent variable- no mobility. While most communities would ordinarily witness stratification, the maratha-kunbi community appears to be headed towards a sharp polarisation between the upper and the lower occupational groups. Our data gives an indication of this development – a careful reading of Tables 8 and 12 shows that while the maratha occupational profile now

Economic & Political Weekly

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august 23, 2008

low occupations. Partly, this is due to the

struggles of the last 100 years, and partly to the opening up of limited opportunities for escaping the oppressive tradition of belonging to very low occupations. In the case of upper middle occupations also, the first three generations show a steady rise coupled with decline in the fourth generation. Similarly, while the second generation of dalits experienced upward mobility in the case of middle occupations, the third g eneration lost the momentum only to be picked up in the fourth generation now. What makes the story of apparent upward m obility among dalits com plicated is the fact that the downward graph of proportion of dalits engaged in very low occupations is marked by a corresponding rise in the numbers engaged in lower and lower middle o ccupations. This shows the limitation of the upward mobility among the dalits.

As said above, the maratha-kunbis report real upward mobility across four generations and across all occupational categories. From the first to the second generation, there is a clear upward trend at both ends; this is sustained in the third generation and clearly augmented in the fourth. This trajectory of the marathas is matched only by the steadfast stability and upward march of the upper castes. In contrast to this, the OBC group shows the least clarity in its journey across the four generations. Or perhaps we should say that it is characterised by remarkable stagnation. Except a very little upward movement in the fourth generation both in upper occupations and very low occupations, the OBCs appear to be unaffected by the developments of the last half century or so. Democratic politics and capitalist development both seem to have passed them by without making much impact.

In a nutshell, our study shows that the upper castes do not lose their pre-eminence, marathas continue to gain; and the dalits are allowed some gains at the lower end of the spectrum and some token advance at the top (though the gains at the lowest end might actually have a far-reaching impact). Most sections of the OBCs it seems will find it very difficult to tackle the metropolitan situation and the latest phase of capitalist development.

7 Concluding Observations

On the whole, there is a modest trend towards upward mobility in certain urban situations. This has a complex relationship with caste. Kumar et al (2002: 2987) argue that “class origins…make a substantial difference to…class destinations. More importantly, they argue that caste is not a good predictor of mobility [ibid; also Kumar et al 2002a]. However, dalits have improved their chances of getting into the salariat class [Kumar et al 2002a: 4096]. Our study also supports this trend towards upward mobility among dalits. It is possible that the significance of caste is found to be very limited in their study, mainly because the ruralbased castes still find it difficult to break free of the hierarchical dimension of caste-occupation clustering and continue to remain imprisoned by agriculture or simply agricultural labour. Besides, their argument that “class origins make the difference” needs to be read differently – we have seen that some caste groups were located in particular occupational categories one or two generations ago. It is not that “individual persons” were situated at particular class locations either by accident or ability; our data clearly shows that different caste groups had a clearly differentiated occupational location a few generations ago and Table 8 shows the effects of that historical differentiation at the present juncture. This underscores the need to take into account the r elevance of caste in plotting occupational differences across caste groups.

Whither Caste? We need not overemphasise the complexities of urban situations in contemporary India. So many factors mediate the effect of caste on the evolution of occupational trajectories of caste groups (and also of individuals) in modern urban l ocations that the effect of caste becomes less tangible and p erhaps affects the relevance of caste in collective relationship in the modern sector. This is not to argue that caste does not exist in the cultural universe of the urban dweller, far from it. The urban dweller would still prefer marriages within the caste and look to the world through the practices and prejudices of her/his caste. But a clear division between secular-material life and c ultural-symbolic universe obtains in the life of urban dwellers. This also means that the inability to move upward in comparison to earlier generations, is a limitation often resulting from specificities of family history and/or other non-caste factors. In contrast, the upward movement is much more strongly tied to caste.

For instance, our study indicates that caste is important for upward movement in the sense that the middle peasant and dalit castes are indeed making progress in real terms. This is due to resources, opportunities and power structure in the case of maratha-kunbis and affirmative action and urban location combined with the background of social awakening in the case of dalits. This study will certainly disappoint those who want to see the conclusions in a decisive manner – that caste is disappearing and becoming irrelevant in our modern capitalist universe. There is a growing literature from the discipline of sociology that appears to be impatient with the persistence of caste as a relevant category for understanding contemporary Indian society. The later work of Srinivas has given expression to this trend of argument [Srinivas 2003]. More recently, A M Shah has offered a similar analysis [Shah 2007]. In this backdrop, few studies actually attempt to measure the relevance of caste in the realm of materialsecular social relations. Our study aims at this sociological amnesia and wishing away of caste. The question that the present study addresses is one that is comparatively less investigated in sociology. So the argument that in modern urban situations caste would lose/is losing its salience appears to be sociologically convincing. We do not deny that possibility and the capacity of the modern secular sector to overcome the hold of caste in defining worth and opportunity structures available to groups. At the same time, our study clearly suggests that in the case of upward mobility, caste still matters.

On the other hand, the ideologues and supporters of the anticaste struggles are worried about the continued relevance of caste in our modern life. This anxiety leads them to believe that the cunning of the caste system penetrates the modern social order and that the modern social order is only a restructuring of the caste hierarchy. Our study is bound to puncture this anxiety and contradict the ideology-driven belief. In matters of choices of occupation and possibilities of occupational mobility, the role of caste must be understood with great care and caution – our study shows that in the urban context, the space for upward mobility undoubtedly exists almost irrespective of and across caste. The mediating factors of urban location and modern manufacturing and service sectors definitely moderate the adverse effects

august 23, 2008

implicit in a lower caste situation. Secondly, if we ignore the issue of the starting point, dalits do record considerable upward mobility in terms of their occupations. Thirdly, there is no direct evidence to suggest that caste (or the caste group) matters in case of stagnation and downward mobility. This third factor in fact points to the possible decline of the association of caste with occupational mobility. In other words, caste is not the only factor shaping occupational trajectories across caste groups. So the most important finding would have to be a sobering of the terms of discourse on the caste question.

The foregoing discussion draws attention to at least three issues. First, it is simply not possible to plot the class map of India without integrating the caste dimension. The class situation is becoming more and more complex with the middle class becoming more diverse in its caste composition [Sheth 1999a]. The upper middle class now includes the intermediate castes in large numbers. This brings the anxieties and interest of the intermediate castes to the forefront of the concerns of the emerging middle class. The history of lower occupations and the experience of upward mobility will definitely play an important part in shaping the self-consciousness of these new class formations.

Similarly, any slide downward in the occupational hierarchy due to the mechanisms of late capitalism, will easily get superimposed on the caste background. Therefore, material adversity will be understood through the prism of the cunning of traditional structures rather than ascribed to instrumental rationality of capitalist development and its inability to accommodate material interests of the less advantaged sections. Second, as each caste becomes sharply stratified and possibly “multi-class”, increasingly, class action on the part of caste groups or castes will become difficult and caste based collective activity will veer more and more in the inward direction of boundary maintenance and identity assertions. (The ongoing study of caste associations at the department of politics and public administration, University of Pune by Deshpande – 2006-08 – brings this out very clearly.) The abstract conceptualisations about formations of caste blocs will become increasingly esoteric and politically unviable. And yet, caste will continue to be the main node around which much of mobilisation will take place. Thus, caste will apparently continue to be the organising principle of collective action. Third, and perhaps paradoxically, the limited entry of the lower castes – dalits and OBCs into the core of the middle class and conversely, their concentration in lower occupations and lower class environs still posits them with the possibility of a collective action as lower classes; however, the opening up of possibilities of entry into higher occupations would operate as a subjective factor denying effective political action from

these sections.

Notes

1 Himanshu Bhattacharya and CSDS Data Unit helped us in getting the 1996 National Election Study (NES) dataset segregated for the urban sample and calculate the mobility index for urban respondents of the 1996 sample.

2 The authors are engaged in a long-term study of social profile of Pune city. An earlier phase of this study took place between 1999 and 2001 under the Special Assistance Programme of UGC at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Pune, See Deshpande 2001 and Deshpande 2004.

References

Crompton, Rosemary (1993): (1998 Reprint), Class and Social Stratification, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Deshpande, Rajeshwari (2001): A Socio-economic Profile of Pune City, Monograph prepared under the Special Assistance Programme of UGC, Department Politics and Public Administration, University of Pune.

  • (2004): ‘Inevitability and Inadequacy of Caste: Some Dilemmas for Mobilisation of Backward Classes in B V Bhosale (ed), Mobilisation of Backward Communities in India, Deep and Deep, New Delhi, pp 200-16.
  • (2006): ‘Maharashtra: Politics of Anxieties, Frustrations and Outrage’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 67, No 14, April 8-14; pp 1304-07.
  • (2007): ‘How Much Does the City Help Dalits? Life of Dalits in Pune City – An Overview of a Century’, Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol 68, No 1, January, pp 130-51.
  • Heath, Anthony (1981): Social Mobility, Fontana, London. Kingston, Paul W (2000): The Classless Society, Stanford University Press, Stanford. Kumar, Sanjay, Anthony Heath and Oliver Heath (2002): ‘Determinants of Social Mobility in India’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 37, No 30, July 20, pp 2983-87.

    Economic & Political Weekly august 23, 2008

    EPW

    – (2002a): ‘Changing Patterns of Social Mobility’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 37, No 40, October 5, pp 4091-96. Panini, M N (1996): ‘The Political Economy of Caste’

    in M N Srinivas (ed), pp 28-68. Shah, A M (2007): ‘Caste in 21st Century: From

    System to Elements’, Economic & Political

    Weekly, Vol 42, No 44, November 3-9, pp 109-16. Shah, Ghanshyam (2002): Caste and Democratic

    Politics in India, Permanent Black, Delhi.

    Sheth, D L (1999): ‘Caste and Class: Social Reality and Political Representations’ in Pai Panandikar and Ashis Nandy (eds), Contemporary India, Tate McGraw Hill, Delhi, pp 331-56.

    – (1999a): ‘Secularisation of Caste and Making of the New Middle Class’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 34, No 34, August 21-28, pp 2502-10.

    Srinivas, M N (1996): Caste: Its Twentieth Century Avatar, Viking-Penguin, New Delhi.

    – (2003): ‘An Obituary of Caste as a System’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 38, No 5, February 1-7, pp 445-59.

    Appendix I: Occupational Categories Used for 2000 and 2007 Surveys

    Upper: Class I officers, higher professionals, large-scale business, small-scale, medium- and large-scale industrialists.

    Upper Middle: Class II officers, small business, own small business based on modern skills (with three to four employees) small-scale b usiness of transport, small-scale business in the construction sector.

    Middle: Class III employees, skilled workers in class III occupations, skilled workers in organised sector, own business based on traditional skills, pensioners, farmers with landholdings of five acres and above, call centre employees, goldsmiths, priests.

    Lower Middle: Class IV employees, skilled workers in unorgani sed sector, semi-skilled workers, petty business, carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers, tailors, watch repairer, coppersmith, potter, barber, washermen, painters, masons, cooks, work with small financial institutions, farmers with 1 to 4.99 acres of land, part-time or full-time service + small business, lottery and other stall owners, rickshaw o wners and drivers.

    Low: Watchmen, unskilled workers, women engaged in home-based petty business, workers in warehouses, waiters, drivers, (salesmen, carpenters, tailors, masons, cooks, painters, barbers, weavers – employed), glass bangle makers, cobblers, milkman, farmers with land below one acre, landowners + agricultural labourers.

    Very Low: Beggars, prostitutes, landless a gricultural labourers, workers engaged in jute sack stitching, bidi workers, construction labourers, sweepers, domestic workers, baby sitters, casual labourers, ragpickers, basket makers, butchers, boys distributing news papers.

    Appendix II: Note on the Occupational Mobility Index

    1 The survey collected information for occupations of male and female earners from four generations of the family-respondents and their spouses, parents of the respondent, grandparents and earning sons and daughters of the respondent (for maximum three children). 2 In case of married women respondent,

  • o ccupational information was sought for their parents and grandparents and not those of their husband. 3 Occupational information was sought even for those sons/daughters of the respondent, who were not staying with the parents, including the married daughters of the respondent. 4 These occupations were initially coded on a 99 point scale and details of the same are provided separately with this note (Appendix I). 5 The survey questionnaire contained nine occupational variables in total (grandparents, parents, respondent + spouse and three sons/ daughters). These were recoded into a 6-point scale in order to derive upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle, low and very low occupational categories. 6 We developed four different mobility indices on the basis of the occupational data of four generations of the family.
  • (a) Mobility index for the two generations of father and respondent.
  • (b) Mobility index for two generations of respondents and first earning son/daughter.
  • (c) Mobility index for grandfather, father, respondent and first earning son/daughter.
  • (d) Mobility index for all four generations of

    male and female earners of the family. 7 The first three indices were easy to derive by simply combining the occupational scores of the groups involved. However, the exercise was inadequate for following reasons:

  • (a) Many of the respondents were nonearners (a large number of them were of housewives who reported themselves to be non-earners). Their non-earning status significantly reduced the number of valid cases available for constructing occupational mobility index for both the generations of father and respondent and that of the respondent and son/daughter.
  • (b) More importantly, the simple mobility indices that we attempted, assumed that the occupational status of a family is entirely dependent on the status of the male earners of the family and that women do not contribute to it in a significant way.
  • 8 This realisation led to an attempt to construct a comprehensive occupational mobility index of four generations of all male and female earners of the family. The construction of the index was quite a complicated task and involved a lot of manual work, in spite of the use of sophisticated computer software like SPSS. More than that the index is largely based on the researchers’ assessment of weightage to be given to a certain occupational score assigned to a family. 9 The construction of the index involved following steps:

  • (a) The first was to calculate the combined occupational score for each generation of earners.
  • (b) An 11-point scale of the combined occupational scores was derived for each generation of earners.
  • (c) The 11-point scales of all generations were added and computed into a new variable to arrive at a unique score for each family/occupational status and their combinations across generations.
  • (d) The scores were manually placed on and recoded into a five-point scale that reflected patterns of upward mobility, downward mobility, no mobility, a skewed pattern of mobility across generations and others (those families where information about only one generation of earners was available with us) (SPSS syntax available with authors).
  • 10 The most useful part of this exercise is the accounting of occupational and therefore economic worth of women family members across generations. It also created a somewhat flexible tool to assess intergenerational mobility even when information about any two or three g enerations was available.

    Institute of Social Sciences

    8 Nelson Mandela Road, New Delhi 110 070

    Conference on

    Three Decades of Rural Decentralisation in West Bengal: Lessons and Future Options

    12 - 13 December 2008, Kolkata

    CALL FOR PAPERS West Bengal was the first state to introduce the new generation of panchayats in 1978. In June 2008, these institutions of local governance completed 30 years of their uninterrupted existence. The Institute of Social Sciences is organizing a two-day international conference in Kolkata on 12-13 December 2008 to review West Bengal’s experience in decentralized governance, its success and failures, strengths and weaknesses. The conference will bring together national and international experts as well as elected panchayat representatives from West Bengal and other states. Papers on the following themes are invited: (i) Devolution of functions and resources to the panchayats: West Bengal and other states;

    (ii) The problems of institutionalizing participatory democracy at the local level; (iii) Conflicts over land and other local resources and the panchayats: Experiences of West Bengal and other states; (iv) Decentralization and poverty reduction: Lessons from past experiences; (v) Institutionalization of decentralized planning for development: West Bengal and other states; (vi) Accountability and transparency of Panchayats: Constraints and Possibilities. An abstract of about 300 words must reach Mr B. D. Ghosh, Senior Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences Eastern Regional Centre, Kolkata (Email:isscal1@dataone.in/isskolkata@rediffmail.com) by 1 September 2008. Selection of the abstracts will be made by the seminar committee and intimated to the authors by 15 September. The authors whose abstracts are selected should send their papers to the Institute’s Kolkata office by 15 November 2008.

    Travel and other expenses of scholars from India whose papers are selected will be met by the organisers. The Institute will only provide local

    hospitality to foreign participants. For further details contact: Mr. P.N. Kuttappan, Institute of Social Sciences, 8 Nelson Mandela Road, New Delhi 110070 (Tel: + 91 11 26121902/26121909, Fax: + 91 11 26137027), Email: issnd@vsnl.com OR Ms.Sucharita Dutta, Institute of Social Sciences, Kolkata CF-149. Sector I, Salt Lake City, Kolkata 700 064, Tel: + 91 033 23340233; Telefax: 23592684.

    august 23, 2008

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