ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Perversity of Special Schemes for Brahmins in South India

Viewing Caste Inequality Upside Down

The justifi cation for a slew of preferential policies aimed at Brahmins in three southern states of India are empirically examined. The results reveal that Brahmins in these three states are at the top of various human capital measures, various standard of living indicators, and have better political and social networks compared to all other social groups. Thus, these preferential policies retrench the existing caste inequalities instead of eliminating them. 

The preamble of the Constitution of India promises to secure for all citizens “justice, social, economic and political; [and] ... equality of status and opportunity,” among other goals.Ensuring genuine justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity is immensely challenging for any society; this was especially the case for the newly independent India. As the chairperson of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution, B R Ambedkar famously emphasised that by adopting these core constitutional values in 1950, India entered “into a life of contradictions,” in that political equality (the principle of “one man, one vote”) was superimposed on a foundation of social inequality embodied by caste hierarchy that permeated all parts of the country, albeit with regional variation.

Weakening the stranglehold of the deep-rooted and multidimensional caste inequa­lity was essential for the realisation of the goals of justice and equality. The Indian policy of affirmative action, the reservation system, was one step in that direction, designed as a scheme of compensatory discrimination via quotas. The affirmative action measures were complemented by several preferential policies targeted towards groups that were at the receiving end of the worst expression of caste in­equality, namely untouchability and the deep stigmatisation associated with it.

The administrative categories of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) (a list of jatis, that is, castes that were considered ritually impure and therefore untouchable) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) (tribes that were highly marginalised) came into being as groups towards whom compensatory discrimination would be targeted. This policy was constitutionally sanctioned via Articles 15(4) and 16(4).2 Untouch­abi­lity was abolished via Article 17, deemed illegal and punishable by law through the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955. This was followed by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.The aim of these policies was to move towards substantive equality that would make the formal guarantee of equality by the Constitution a lived reality. As a result, all states of India have special schemes targeted towards the SC and ST. Over time, other groups such as the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the economically weaker sections (EWSs) got added to the list of beneficiaries of affirmative action and preferential schemes.

Contemporary India has simultaneously witnessed vicious opposition to caste-based reservation alongside vociferous demands by groups for inclusion as beneficiaries. While the dominant discourse around reservation policies is opposed to caste-based preferences on grounds of these being antithetical to “merit,” and/or being populist vote-garnering ploys, the demand for being included in the reserved list continues to be raised by multiple caste groups, such as the dominant castes in speci­fic states (Jats in Haryana, Marathas in Maharashtra, Patels or Patidars in Gujarat, and Kapus in Andhra Pradesh [AP]).

We have provided empirical evidence to show why the extension of reservations to these dominant castes would be misplaced (Deshpande and Ramachandran 2017). We have also analysed the extension of reservations to the EWS category (the definition of which makes it a highly inaccurate way to count the poor, that is, those below the poverty line [BPL]) that effectively creates a quota for upper castes and dilutes the purpose for which reservations were created in the first place, which was to provide representation to the stigmatised and marginalised social groups in elite positions (Deshpande and Ramachandran 2019a).

In this article, we focus on an extra­ordinary set of measures adopted by three south Indian states, Karnataka, AP, and Telangana, which provide preferential schemes for Brahmins—the jati (caste) unambiguously at the top of the caste hierarchy. These measures are extraordinary and perverse for four reasons.

One, they invert the logic and purpose of preferential policies by suggesting that the most revered and socially dominant group needs protection, instead of the most vulnerable, as has hitherto been the case in independent India. Second, by conferring extra advantages to a group already at the top of an entrenched social hierarchy, these measures violate the constitutional vision that seeks to create a society in which caste-based disadvantages would be minimised in order to be eventually eliminated. Three, by earmarking certain types of training exclusively for Brahmins (for example, Vedic education, without going into the merit of this training), it reinforces the injustice of the caste system due to which the accident of birth becomes the arbiter of future life chances. Fourth, the three state governments have been issuing caste certificates to individual Brahmins who wish to avail of these policies.

Thus, these measures paradoxically count (that is, identify) a non-SC–ST caste group at a time when there is a fierce oppo­sition to counting caste through a national census. Such a census would throw light on the actual material status of individual castes, but it is vociferously opposed because of the belief that it would harden caste distinctions instead of obliterating them. Identifying Brahmins violates the status quo just as much as a caste census would since currently the only context under which caste appears in the official or public domain is that of reservation or preferential policies, that is, groups such as the SCs are identified as beneficiaries of schemes. For all other purposes, individual caste affiliation is not officially or legally recognised or counted, notwithstanding the ubiquitous presence of caste in the public sphere, via the marriage market or in the electoral strategies and outcomes.

Using data from the India Human Deve­lopment Survey, 2011–12 for the united AP at the time of survey (which later split into AP and Telangana) and Karnataka, we compare Brahmins with non-Brahmin upper-caste Hindus, the OBCs, SCs–STs, and upper-caste Muslims in their respective states. Our results reveal that Brahmins in these three states are at the top of
(i) various human capital measures; (ii) various standard of living indicators; and (iii) have better political and social networks compared to all other social groups. Since these schemes focus on the EWSs within the Brahmin communities, we also compare the poor within each of these communities (by using a more sensible official poverty line cut-off that identifies the poor more accurately).4

Even within the poor, the caste hierarchy is clear and present, with the human capital and material outcomes of poor Brahmins being substantially better than those of the poor from other social groups. Lest it be argued that these states are exceptional, we also show that the pattern of Brahmin outcomes exceeding those of other social groups by a large margin is not unique to these states. Our results show that this is a pan-Indian reality. The rest of this article is organised as follows. In the beginning, it briefly outlines the details of the preferential schemes. Further, it shows the empirical results of comparing Brahmins to other social groups in the respective states. Subsequently, it focuses only on the poor and compares group differences between the states. Further, it presents a discussion of the results and offers concluding comments. The online Appendix presents the analysis comparing the poor among Brahmins with the poor in other social groups, for the entire country.

Details of Preferential Schemes for Brahmins

All three states have similar schemes targeted at Brahmins. It is noteworthy that the schemes have been named after iconic Brahmin figures such as Chanakya (Vishnugupta), the highly revered Brahmin philosopher, jurist, and economist and the author of the first treatise on economics, Arthashastra, dated between third and fourth century BC. Schemes are also named after other historical and mythological figures who are an integral part of the mainstream Hindu cultural ethos which the majority community subscribes to. Just this fact is sufficient to indicate that the schemes are not targeting a disadvantaged or marginal community but one whose icons predominate the mainstream psyche and cultural values despite the community being a tiny minority.

It is noteworthy that the set of policies not only promote or support Brahmins in their traditional caste roles (priesthood or pursuing Vedic knowledge) but also pushes for the diversification of livelihood opportunities outside traditional roles, for example entrepreneurship, in recognition of modern realities. This makes the policies all the more bizarre, as one can, for argument’s sake, justify a special policy to preserve a vanishing or a possibly non-remunerative occupation. The question that arises is what considerations compel these state governments to reserve diversification of livelihoods only to Brahmins and not open up these opportunities to everyone. Caste-based occupational or educational division is not meant to be promoted; it is a scourge that prevents equality of opportunity. Whatever the merit of Vedic education might be, reserving any kind of training or education for one section is anathema to the idea of equality.

We can see in the descriptions of the schemes that many consist of support to the poor, which is a laudable goal for public policy, had it not been exclusively reserved for the poor among the socially privileged and revered groups.

The pioneer in developing preferential policies for Brahmins was AP. In December 2014, N Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister heading the Telugu Desam Party government, set up the AP Brahmin Welfare Corporation for Brahmins in the state, a group with a 5% population share (Sood and Sadam 2021). While the initial amount of funding is not mentioned on the website, the state government’s CM Office Real-time Executive Dashboard (CORE portal) provides a fair amount of detail on the “Brahmin Welfare Corp” until 2018–19.5 It ran schemes such as Vedavyasa, a financial assistance for Brahmin students pursuing Vedic education; the Gayathri Scheme for Academic Excellence, “recognizing of ‘topper students,’ belonging to the Brahmin community, of a recognized and reputed” college at any education level; the Bharati Scheme for Education, providing “financial assistance to Brahmin students to continue their academic education”; Vasishta, “coaching and guidance to Brahmin students for competitive exa­minations”; Dronacharya Skill Development Scheme for Unemployed Youth “skill development among unemployed Brahmin youth”; Chanakya Swayam Upadhi Scheme, “encourage economically weak Brahmin entrepreneurs to set up enterprises”; Kalyana­mastu Pathakam “encouraging Vedic culture for the bride who is marrying to a Brahmin boy who is in the profession of Purohityam or Veda-Parayanam or Archakatam”; Kashyapa Scheme for Food and Shelter, “monthly pensions to poor orphaned or destitute women or differently abled, senior citizens, widows with food and shelter expenses”; Garuda Scheme for Funeral Expenses, “financial assistance for funeral expenses of deceased Brahmins where the family has no other means to meet the said expenses”; and Bhargava Matching Scheme, “matching grants” to catalyse, energise and strengthen the efforts of individuals or an association or organisation representing Brahmin community.

In January 2017, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government led by K Chandra­shekar Rao followed suit and established the Telangana Brahmin Samkshema Parishad (TBSP) with an initial funding of `1 billion (`100 crore) targeted at the 3% Brahmin population in the state.6

It runs schemes such as Vedahita (“encouraging and providing financial assistance to Veda classes, Vedic studies and students across the state”) and to provide “honorarium for Veda Shastra Pandits (expert scholars of the Vedas)” in the state; Vivekananda Overseas Education, which provides financial support to Brahmin students for higher educational courses abroad; Sri Ramanuja, which offers fee reimbursement to Brahmin students belonging to the BPL category; Brahmin Entrepreneurship Scheme of Telangana providing financial assistance to Brahmin entrepreneurs; and Brahmin Sadan, which establishes centres of cultural, religious, spiritual, and communal activities to benefit Brahmins from the state.

There is scant information available on the detailed functions of the TBSP, with the occasional mentions of “applications open for TBSP schemes” in some regional newspapers. An internet search revealed that the TBSP also runs a marriage scheme similar to that in Karnataka, which guarantees a joint fixed deposit of `3,00,000 and an additional `1,00,000 for wedding expenses to brides who would marry a Brahmin priest, with no upper limit for the number of couples who would get this assistance. In July 2020, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yediyurappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the national ruling party, set up the Karnataka State Brahmin Development Board (KSBDB) at a cost of `250 million (25 crore).7 The share of Brahmins in the state population is roughly 4%. These schemes include financial assistance to “needy” Brahmin students, training and skill development programmes to help students compete in national-level entrance examinations as well as for entrepreneurial activities, old-age support via pensions and old-age homes, and organising youth festivals for “younger generation in the development of [the] Brahmin community and society as a whole.” Significantly, the KSBDB also conducts a survey of Brahmins in the state.

Although the KSBDB website does not provide any details, the Karnataka government announced two schemes that were launched by the board, namely Arundhati (550 Brahmin women from poor backgrounds to be given `25,000 each for their marriage) and Maitreyi (offering a financial bond of `3,00,000 lakh for 25 women who marry Brahmin priests from poor backgrounds to be used over three years) (Devaiah B P 2021).

Comparing Brahmins with Other Social Groups


Data and methodology: We use data from the IHDS of 2011–12, which classifies individuals as Brahmins, Forward/General (except Brahmin), OBCs, SCs, STs, and Others as well as by religious categories— Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Tribal, and Others—giving us a sample of 40,588 households and 1,97,377 individuals.

We construct five social groups using data on caste category and religion that account for the two of the key cleavages in society: Brahmin Hindus comprising 5% of the sample; the upper-caste Hindus (UC Hindus); the non-SC–ST–OBC Hindus comprising 15% of the sample; the OBCs comprising 43% of the sample;8 the SCs and STs comprising 31% of the sample;and the upper-caste Muslims (UC Muslims) comprising 5.80% of the sample.10

We compare the five groups on indicators of human capital, material standards of living, and social prestige and networks. We present group-level means and the 95% confidence intervals for each of the indicators. For the indicators measured at the individual level, when calculating the group means and the confidence intervals, we account for the age, gender, and state of residence of the individual and also allow for the standard errors to be correlated for individuals living within the same sampling cluster. For the indicators measured at the household level, we account for the age, gender, and state of residence of the household head and also allow for the standard errors to be correlated for individuals living within the same sampling cluster.


Human capital differences across groups: The first five indicators that we examine are (i) years of schooling; (ii) a dummy for an individual with 12 or more years of schooling; (iii) dummy for being literate; (iv) dummy for being fluent in English; and (v) dummy for having some English ability. We consider the sample of individuals aged 18 years or more in 2011–12, resulting a total of 18,383 respondents, and the results are shown in Figure 1 (p 46). We can see a clear ordering with Brahmins having the best human capital outcomes on all seven indicators, followed by the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the OBCs, the SCs–STs, and the UC Muslims. For instance, they have on an average 9.5 years of schooling, 41% have finished 12 or more years of schooling and 87% are literate. The commensurate figures for the SC–ST are 4.70, 13, and 53, respectively. Thus, compared to the SC–ST they have more than double the years of schooling, are three times more likely to have finished 12 years or more of schooling, and are 64% more likely to be literate. Even when comparing with the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, Brahmins have two more years of schooling, are 1.78 times more likely to have finished 12 years or more of schooling, and are 18% more likely to be literate.

The human capital indicators show that Brahmins also report superior English abilities—a skill rewarded highly on the labour market (Azam et al 2013); 22% and 63% report being fluent or having some English ability; the corresponding figures for the non-Brahmin UC Hindus and the SC–ST are 9%, 33%, 4%, and 21%, respectively.

These differences in human capital are already visible among children aged 8–11 years old whose ability to read as well as numerical skills were tested. The last two bars of Figure 1 consider the following two indicators for the children aged 8–11 years: (vi) dummy for a child that can read a paragraph or sentence; and (vii) dummy for a child that can divide or subtract. It shows that 64% of Brahmin kids aged 8–11 years can read a paragraph or story and divide or subtract, respectively. On the contrary, the figures for non-Brahmin UC Hindus is 53% and 64%, respectively, and for the SCs–STs, 40% and 44%, respectively.

Appendix Figure A1 (available on the EPW website) shows that the documented differences in human capital with Brahmins on the top, followed by the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the OBCs and SC–ST are true not only for these states but also at an all-India level.11


Differences in material standards of living: Figure 2 compares the same five social groups in AP and Karnataka on six indicators of living standards. Five indicators, namely (i) per capita household income measured in 10,000s Rs (in 2011–12 prices); (ii) per capita household consumption expenditure measured in 10,000s Rs (in 2011–12 prices); (iii) dummy for household classified as non-poor; (iv) dummy for households with access to some toilet facility; and (v) dummy for households who own or cultivate land are calculated at the household-level accounting for the age, gender, and state of residence of the household head and results in a sample of 5,664 households. The last indicator—(vi) dummy for holding a professional job—considers the entire sample of individuals aged 18 years or more and who report having an occupation (a sample of 8,836 individuals).

We again observe that Brahmins have the best outcomes, followed by the non-Brahmin Hindu UCs and the OBCs. The SC–ST and UC Muslims are largely indistinguishable though the UC Muslim households do better in terms of access to toilets and owning or cultivating land. In terms of income per capita, the figures are `58,200, `24,700, `22,600, `19,400, and `21,200, respectively, for the Brahmins, the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the OBCs, the SC–ST and the UC Muslims, respectively. In other words, the per capita income of Brahmins is 2.35 to 3 times greater than the non-Brahmin UC Hindus and the SCs–STs, respectively. Thirty percent of Brahmins hold a professional job, whereas the corres­ponding figures are 12%, 8%, 6%, and 3% for the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the OBCs, the SC–ST, and UC Muslims, respectively. Only 4% of Brahmin households are classified as poor, whereas the corresponding proportions are 8% and 10% for the non-Brahmin UC Hindus and the OBCs, respectively, and 16% and 19% for the SC–ST and UC Muslims, respectively. In other words, the rate of poverty is four to five times higher among the SC–ST and the UC Muslims compared to the Brahmins. Finally, there are large differences in the access to basic infrastructure, whereas 85% of Brahmin households have access to some form of toilet; the commensurate figures are 63%, 58%, 39%, and 57% for the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the OBCs, SC–ST, and the UC Muslims, respectively.

Appendix Figure A2 (available on the EPW website) shows that the differences on the same six material standards living indicators but now for all of India. We see that the ordering is maintained, though the UC Muslims perform better than the SCs–STs when the country is considered as a whole.

The evidence presented shows that the Brahmins do significantly better than the four other social groups in terms of both the human capital they possess, as well as the material outcomes in terms of income, consumption, occupation, poverty, access to sanitation, and land. Moreover, this is true not only for AP and Karnataka but for the country as whole. Thus, the Brahmins cannot be considered a disadvantaged group in terms of any capabilities or on the material basis of life.

The reservation policy was designed to account for social disadvantages faced by groups and to counter discrimination stemming from the caste system and the associated rituals of untouchability. Table 1 shows that 55% of Brahmins self-report that they adhere to the practice of some form of untouchability. Moreover, 22% of the SC–ST households respond that some household members experienced untouchability in the last five years. Table 1 also shows that Brahmin households are also likely to possess superior political and social networks both within and outside their caste/community. For instance, they are more likely to have acquaintance with doctors, teachers, elected politicians, officers, inspectors, other government employees, and health workers both within and outside their community/caste. Thus, Brahmins not only self-profess following practices that discriminate against individuals from other social groups but are also seen to be better connected both socially and politically. In sum, the evidence suggests that there are neither social nor economic criteria that justify targeting benefits to Brahmins based on their group identity.

Are Poor Brahmins Worse Off Than the Poor from Other Groups?

The eligibility criteria of the schemes is often only the requirement of belonging to the Brahmin community, though certain income thresholds have been fixed depending on the scheme. One might thus wonder that though the share of poor among the Brahmins is four to five times lower than the SC–ST and the UC Muslims, is it the case that the poor among the Brahmins are especially disadvantaged?

To explore this, we restrict the sample to households classified as poor and resident in AP and Karnataka and regress the 13 outcomes from Figures 1 and 2 on a set of group dummies as well as dummies for age, sex, and state of residence and cluster the standard errors at the level of the primary sampling unit. The coefficients on the group dummies are shown in Table 2 (p 48). We see that the picture emerging from the comparison of the poor from the five social groups is similar to the picture from the comparison of the entire population; poor Brahmins are again at the top followed by the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the OBCs, the SC–ST, and the UC Muslims. For instance, Brahmins are 10%, 14%, and 21% more likely than the non-Brahmin UC Hindus, the SC–ST, and the UC Muslims to finish 12 or more years of schooling or have a household per capita income that is greater by `8,200 and `5,400 as compared to the non-Brahim UC Hindus and the SC–ST, respectively.

Our estimates on the poor in AP and Karnataka reduce the sample to between 300 and 600 households. Therefore, we also explore the differences among the individuals classified as poor across the five social groups, but at the all-India level. Here, the larger sample allows for greater precision in the estimates. The results are shown in Appendix Figures A3 and A4 (available on the EPW website). The
patterns are stark and again in favour of the Brahmins followed by the non-Brahmin UC Hindus and the OBCs, whereas the SC–ST and Muslims are largely indistinguishable at the bottom of the pyramid. For instance, poor Brahmins have on an average 6.83 years of schooling, 17% have completed 12 or more years of schooling, and 77% are literate. Comparing these to Appendix Figure A1 shows that the educational attainment of poor Brahmins is greater than that of all the OBCs, the SC–ST, and the UC Muslims (poor and non-poor combined). Similarly, poor Brahmins are more likely to have access to a household toilet or hold a professional job as compared to the sample of both poor and non-poor SCs–STs and UC Muslims.

Discussion and Concluding Comments

Our analysis provides empirical demonstration of the reality, which marks contem­porary India, that Brahmins continue to be at the top across a range of socio-economic indicators. Whatever the churning in the caste system has been due to affirmative action and the “Mandalisation” of politics that saw a sharp rise in political representation from hitherto stigmatised caste groups, it has not upset the traditional position of Brahmins at the top of the caste hierarchy.

The thrust of all the Brahmin-specific welfare support schemes is financial assistance in a variety of ways to sections within the Brahmin community. Most schemes are laudable in their objective, but there is absolutely no justification for excluding non-Brahmins from their purview. Making special and exclusive schemes for Brahmins goes against the promise of equality in the constitution, which aims to create a society where the accident of birth would not determine future life chances of any individual. We have noted that affirmative action and preferential policies targeted towards the SCs–STs are subject to vicious opposition for many reasons, including the belief that these entrench caste consciousness rather than weaken it. It is remarkable that none of the usual anti-reservation frenzy, decrying the death of merit or pandering to vote banks or the politics of appeasement, has accompanied the announcement of these schemes. Even the mainstream media is strangely silent; there have been only two to three articles on these highly significant policy measures that have been around for at least five years.

These measures should make us reflect on why group-based preferential schemes are needed in the first place. Public policies should target groups qua groups when their socio-economic outcomes are adverse because of the systemic or structural causes. In the United States (US), analysis points towards systemic racism preventing equalisation of Black–White outcomes (Collins 2020). In India, the analogous institution that keeps caste hierarchy intact is Brahminical Hinduism, which is the dominant version of Hinduism. Thus, not only are Brahmins not systematically persecuted or suppressed, but on the contrary, the version of Hinduism that maintains their place at the top is the version that rules.

Groups at the bottom of the hierarchy are typically negatively stereotyped everywhere in the world. Debates on Black–White disparities in the US hinge on whether the disparities are caused by structural or systemic racism or by cultural or even genetic deficiencies within Black communities (see the discussion in [Small et al 2010] and [Bump 2014]). India has witnessed similar debates, where the SCs (Dalits) are mocked as undue beneficiaries of reservations, ridiculed as sarkari damaad (sons-in-law of the state, that is, living off largesses without doing any work), and suffer the stigma of incompetence in addition to the ignominy of their “untouchable” status.

However, the stereotypes for Brahmins are the exact opposite, that is, they are extremely positive. Indeed, the TBSP’s des­cription of Brahmins makes no bones about their belief and explicitly states that the community is “superior,” a description that can be read as a belief in innate or genetic superiority. Their home page states that

BRAHMIN stands for Broad and Brilliant in Thinking, Righteous and Religious in Livelihood, Adroit and Adventurous in Personality, Honesty and Humanity in Quality, Modesty and Morality in Character, Innovation and Industry in Performance and Nobility and Novelty in Approach (sic).12

This description is dangerously close to the white supremacy argument, which consists of “beliefs and ideas purporting natural superiority of the lighter-skinned, or “white,” human races over other racial groups.”13

Is poverty a problem among Brahmins? Indeed it is, but poverty does not afflict Brahmins exclusively. There are poor Brahmins just as there are poor within every community. Our argument is that all poor individuals should be able to avail of universal programmes that India has in plenty, such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 or the public distribution system providing subsidised foodgrains. Are these universal programmes sufficient in their reach and depth? The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the serious shortcomings of the programmes and proved that these are woefully inadequate. Therefore, it is clear that India needs to streng­then its welfare support system, which will benefit the poor among all communities, including Brahmins. There is absolutely no justification for schemes exclusively targeted towards the Brahmins. As political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta argues, these schemes are a “grotesque perversion of constitutional values” (Mehta 2021).

The original contradiction, highlighted by Ambedkar, of the form of formal equality being superimposed on a structure of substantive inequality remains persistent and serious (Mosse 2018; Deshpande and Ramachandran 2019b), especially since the state has made no effort to sensitise society to caste-based discrimination by, for instance, inclusion of caste sensitivity training for bureaucrats or politicians or curriculum addressing caste disparities and its origins at any level of education. The measures implemented by the three states are the exact opposite of what needs to be done to weaken the stranglehold of caste. These are possibly motivated by political, electoral, or ideological considerations and unlike preferential schemes for the SC–ST that provide a modicum of social justice (albeit nowhere sufficient enough), these are quintessential appeasement policies that have no place in a modernising India that aspires to be a global superpower or a “vishwaguru” (teacher to the world).


1 of india/preamble.

2 of india/fundamental rights/articles/Article%2015.


4 We use the official poverty line based on the Tendulkar methodology (Tendulkar 2013).

6 To put this number in perspective, it is interesting to note that, for instance, the entire state budget for mid-day meals for 2019–20 was `318 crore; see\website/Files/PAB/PAB-2019-20/PAB\2019-20\minutes/Telangana.pdf.

8 The OBCs are a group of intermediate to low-ranked castes and communities meant to correspond to the Shudra varna (traditional occupation of labourers and other menial occupations) in principle. The OBCs receive affirmative action since 1992 in central government services and since 2006 in central and private institutes of higher education (Deshpande 2013).

9 The SCs–STs are among the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups and receive preferential affirmative action, for which purpose they are listed in a government schedule (hence called the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes). While the nomenclature of SC and ST is the official administrative categories, Dalit meaning “oppressed” and Adivasi meaning “indigenous people” are often used to describe the SC and ST communities.

10 Both Islam and Christianity display caste-like divisions in South Asia. Dalit Muslims and Christians have been demanding affirmative action similar to their Hindu and Sikh counterparts.

11 The ordering between the SC–ST and the UC Muslims switches around, that is, the SC–ST perform better than the UC Muslims in AP and Karnataka, whereas the UC Muslims perform better when the country is considered as a whole.




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Updated On : 8th Aug, 2022
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