Tuesday, March 9, 2010

REVIEW: Economic Discrimination In Modern India

Blocked By Caste, Economic Discrimination In Modern India:
Editor(s) : Sukhadeo Thorat, Katherine S. Newman
9780198060802, Hardback
Rs. 750
ISBN: 9780198060802

In recent years issues like caste discrimination and social exclusion have been discussed extensively in India. However, while the linkages between caste and society have been studied widely, the interface between caste and economy or economic development remains an under-researched terrain. Blocked by Caste explores contemporary patterns of economic discrimination faced by Dalits and religious minorities like Muslims and the underlying attitudinal orientations that contribute to inequality in various spheres of life.

This volume investigates empirical evidence of discrimination by focusing on the urban labour market as well as other markets in rural markets. It also analyses discrimination in non-market transactions like access to education, primary healthcare services, and fair price shops. Through detailed case studies, the essays examine the consequences of exclusion on unequal access to business, wage-earning, health status, and educational attainments and suggest possible remedies.

The introduction provides a conceptual framework and the foreword by Kaushik Basu underscores the importance of developing an interface between economics and social sciences in order to give greater visibility to research on discrimination.

Caste & the labour market Hindu
This is an excellent volume — carefully-researched and eye-opening — on caste-based injustice in our society and economy. Now, while there is a literature that documents discrimination and the denial of civil liberties, there is very little understanding and research on the practice of caste discrimination in markets, notably in modern, urban and metropolitan settings, and in public institutions. This book takes up the challenge of understanding the latter by means of systematic research on the question.

A useful four-fold classification of the types of discrimination is proposed by Thorat and Newman: complete exclusion, selective inclusion, unfavourable inclusion, and selective exclusion. Complete exclusion would occur, for example, if Dalits were totally excluded from purchase of land in certain residential areas. Selective inclusion refers to differential treatment or inclusion in markets, such as disparity in payment of wages to Dalit workers and other workers. Unfavourable inclusion or forced inclusion refers to tasks in which Dalits are incorporated based on traditional caste practices, such as bonded labour. Lastly, selective exclusion refers to exclusion of those involved in “polluting occupations” (such as leather tanning or sanitary work) from certain jobs and services.

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