Socio-Economic Change and the Broad-Basing Process in India 9780367146283, 9780429316418

This book offers a new concept of inclusion of the marginalised in India — the Broad-basing Process. The author examines

256 137 1MB

English Pages [249] Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright


Table of contents :
Half Title
List of figures
List of tables
List of contributors
1 The Broad-Basing process in India: an introduction
2 The Broad-Basing process and Dalits
3 Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka?: its achievements and challenges
4 The Broad-Basing process and the backward classes
5 The Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims
6 The Broad-Basing process in India and women
7 Whither workers in India?
8 Is there a Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy?
9 Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based?
10 Urbanisation in India: is it Broad-Basing?
11 Post-independence conservation policies and implementation in India: a socio-economic and ecological appraisal
12 The way forward
Recommend Papers

Socio-Economic Change and the Broad-Basing Process in India
 9780367146283, 9780429316418

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Socio-Economic Change and the Broad-Basing Process in India

This book offers a new concept of inclusion of the marginalised in India – the Broad-Basing Process. The author examines how through this process increasing numbers of marginalised social groups can enter into the social, political and economic mainstream and progressively derive the same advantages from society as the groups already part of it. The book critically reviews how the Broad-Basing process has worked in the past in India both before and after its independence. It examines how social groups like Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Muslims, women and the labour class have fared, and how far economic development, urbanisation, infrastructure development and the digital revolution have helped the marginalised and promoted Broad-Basing. It also offers mechanisms to speed up Broad-Basing in poorer economies. A first of its kind, this volume will be useful for scholars and researchers of political studies, sociology, exclusion studies and political economy, and also for general readers. M. V. Nadkarni is presently Honorary Visiting Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru, and a Member of the Governing Body at the Centre for Multi-disciplinary Development Research (CMDR), Dharwad, Karnataka, India. An economist by professional training, with specialisation in agricultural and ecological/ environmental economics, he is actively interested in development economics, political economy, history, sociology, philosophy, ethics, religion and Gandhian Studies. He was the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow for two years (2002–04) and Vice Chancellor of Gulbarga University, Karnataka, India, from 1999 to 2002.

Socio-Economic Change and the Broad-Basing Process in India Edited by M. V. Nadkarni

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter, M. V. Nadkarni; individual chapters, the contributors The right of M. V. Nadkarni to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-0-367-14628-3 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-31641-8 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon by Apex CoVantage LLC


List of figuresvii List of tablesviii List of contributorsxi Prefacexii Prologue



  1 The Broad-Basing process in India: an introduction



  2 The Broad-Basing process and Dalits



  3 Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka?: its achievements and challenges



  4 The Broad-Basing process and the backward classes



  5 The Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims



  6 The Broad-Basing process in India and women



  7 Whither workers in India?



  8 Is there a Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? MALINI L. TANTRI AND SHRUTHI MOHAN MENON


vi  Contents   9 Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based?



10 Urbanisation in India: is it Broad-Basing?



11 Post-independence conservation policies and implementation in India: a socio-economic and ecological appraisal



12 The way forward



References212 Index229



Gap between literacy and effective literacy rates across socio-religious groups in India 2011 5.2 Literacy and gender gap in literacy rates in India 8.1a Poverty at sub-national level (1993–94 to 1999–2000) 8.1b Poverty at sub-national level (2004–05 to 2011–12) 8.2 State-wise unemployed rate for persons aged 15 years and above on usual status basis in rural and urban areas of India (2015–16) 8.3 Unemployment rate for persons with usual status of age 15 years and above with differential education 8.4 Per 1,000 distribution of usually employed by broad category of employment 9.1 Tele-density: urban and rural 2001–14 9.2 Tele-density trends: public and private connections

80 81 125 125 131 133 134 144 146


1.1 Average annual growth (%) in per adult pre-tax real income by percentiles, 1980–2014 31 2.1 Literacy rates and urbanisation among SCs, STs and Others 39 2.2 Workforce pattern: proportion (%) in total main workers 40 2.3 Share (%) in agricultural area held as against share in population 40 2.4 Proportion (%) of people below poverty line by social groups 41 2.5 Occupational distribution of regular workers by caste, 1994 and 2012 (UPSS) (%) 42 2.6 Wage ratios by castes and employment status, 1983 to 2012 43 2.7 Decomposition of wage differences between SCs and FCs in public and private sectors: 2004–05 and 2011–12 (in percentages)44 2.8 Growth of employment by social groups 45 2.9 Number of graduates per thousand population 45 2.10 Crime rate against Scheduled Castes 48 2.11 Crime rate against all population 48 2.12 Coefficients of concentration of crime against SCs 48 5.1 Literates, barely literates and access to higher education across socio-religious groups in India, 2001 and 2011 79 5.2 Representation of different social and minority students and staffs in higher education in India: 2011–12 (%) 80 5.3 Gross enrolment ratios and higher education attainment ratios by religious and social groups in India: 1983 to 2014 83 5.4 Inequality in assets distribution across socio-religious groups in India 84 5.5 Percentage distribution of households in socio-religious groups in India, 2011–12 85 5.6 Youth employment by type across socio-religious groups in India 86 5.7 Percentage population below official poverty line among religious groups in India 87

Tables ix 5A.1 A.2 5 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14

Population and state of literacy and higher education among Muslims across states 2011 90 Percentage Muslim population below poverty across states 92 Labour force participation in India by gender, 1983 to 2011–12 95 Female labour force participation rate in SAARC countries95 Female participation in ownership or control over modes of production 96 Population and sex ratio in SAARC countries in 2015 105 Literacy rates of women and Gender Parity Index in SAARC countries 105 Growth rate by category of workers in organised manufacturing (%) 109 Growth rate of wages by different categories of employment110 Summary of early separation scheme 111 Net increase in the number of workers in India 113 Annual net increase in the number of workers and annual rate of growth of GDP in India 114 Mobilisations of trade unions 115 Health and nutrition indicators across social groups 123 Nutritional status of women and men across social groups123 Percentage and number of poor in India (1993–94 to 2011–12) 124 Decline in poverty ratios per annum 125 Proportion of persons belonging to BPL families by social groups (2011–12) 126 Poverty ratios of workers by industry and sector, 2004–05 126 Poverty ratios among farmers by socio-religious groups and land (possessed) size classes, rural 2004–05 127 Indices of poverty and inequality in terms of poverty ratio, and Lorenz ratio in India 128 Share of employment across sectors at all India level 129 Employment growth rate in agricultural and nonagricultural sector 129 Trend in India’s unemployment rate (per 1,000 persons 130 in the labour force) as per current daily status Rural-urban differences between men and women workers 2004–05 132 Percentage distribution of unorganised workers across expenditure classes 134 Relationship between sector and type of employment (UPSS), all workers (1999–2000 and 2004–05) 134

x  Tables 9.1

Change in ownership of digitally connected and other assets by rural and urban families (per cent of the sample) 143 9.2 Trends in tele-density in India (per 100 subscribers) 145 9.3 Change in ownership of modern assets by social groups (per cent of the sample) 150 9.4a Correlation coefficients with different indicators 157 9.4b  Correlation coefficients with different indicators 157 9A.1 Households owning digitally compatible assets: 2011 161 9A.2 Change in asset holding along with digitally compatible assets 162 10.1 Growth rate of urban population, 1901–2011 164 10.2 Literacy rates (%) – urban rural gap 168 10.3 Rural-urban differentials in sex ratio, 1951–2011 169 10.4 Slum population and access to basic amenities for urban population170 10.5 Primacy index 175 10.6 Size distribution of India’s cities, 1901–2011 176 11.1 Statewise details of the claims received and titles distributed as on 31 January 2017 186 12.1 Major fiscal indicators of social commitment 196


Subhashree Banerjee is a Research Scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru (when the concerned paper was prepared; now a successful Doctorate). R. S. Deshpande is presently Honorary Visiting Professor, ISEC; Dr D. M. Nanjundappa Chair Professor, CMDR, Dharwad; ICSSR National Fellow; Former Director of Dr B. R. Ambedkar School of Economics, Bengaluru, and of ISEC. Vinay Kumar is Frontline Supervisor (Foreman), Tata Steel Ltd, Jamshedpur. Shruthi Mohan Menon is a Research Scholar, Christ University, Bengaluru. M. V. Nadkarni is Honorary Visiting Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru, and a Member of the Governing Body at the Centre for Multi-disciplinary Development Research (CMDR), Dharwad, Karnataka, India. Sunil Nautiyal is Professor, Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources, ISEC. Khalil Shaha is Assistant Professor at Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC). Kala S. Sridhar is Professor, Centre for Research in Urban Affairs, ISEC. Lavanya Suresh is Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Birla Institute of Technology – Pilani, Hyderabad Campus. Malini L. Tantri is Assistant Professor, Centre for Economic Studies and Policy, ISEC. Anil Kumar Vaddiraju is Associate Professor, Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development, ISEC. Manohar Yadav is Professor, Centre for the Study of Social Change and Development, ISEC. S. Yogeshwari is Assistant Professor, Department of Business Studies and Social Sciences, Christ University, Bengaluru.


This is a collection of articles on an important social process in India, which I have called ‘Broad-Basing’, the idea of which was first advanced by me in an article in Economic & Political Weekly in 1997 (Nadkarni 1997). Broad-Basing is a process by which more and more social groups that were formerly marginalised or deprived enter the mainstream of social, political and economic life to derive the same advantages as the group already in the mainstream. It also means that the social basis of the power structure widens, and in the process it becomes more inclusive. It is distinguished from similar other related processes like social mobility, ‘trickle down’, empowerment, integration and democratisation. Broad-Basing need not be an automatic or preordained process, and certainly not the result of ‘charity’ of the powerful. It occurs as the result of conscious efforts on the part of the deprived social groups and their visionary peers to improve their status. The state and its policies too are an important determinant of the process. The book critically reviews how the Broad-Basing process has worked in the past in India both before and after its independence. The 12 essays in the book by competent scholars – both senior and young, describe how different social groups like Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Muslims, women and the labour class have fared, and whether and how far economic development, urbanisation and the digital revolution have helped the marginalised and promoted Broad-Basing. The Broad-Basing Process is receiving a probing, comprehensive and critical attention for the first time here. The contributors are drawn from economics, sociology and political science, and view their topics in an interdisciplinary way. They include eminent seniors as well as young, bright and very promising scholars. The book does not stop with rigorous analysis alone, but also points the way forward. I may also point out that the book takes a balanced view of the process of economic growth and development in India with an open mind, and not an ideologically prejudiced view. Quite a few social scientists, including particularly economists, write as if economic growth has nothing good to offer for the poor and the downtrodden, and its only consequence is that such persons will be ‘ground down by growth’, as the title of a recent book

Preface xiii suggests (Alpa Shah et al. 2018). The focus of such thinkers has been only on what marginalises, but attention to what promotes good in society, what has reduced inequality and inequity, is lacking – often deliberately due to ideological fixations. The result is a partial or truncated view, not a holistic view. There is no doubt that reckless development, without regard to whether it has the effect of causing deprivation of vulnerable sections of people, is deplorable and should be avoided, even if the deprived constitute a minority and the beneficiaries of development form a majority. The deprived have to be duly compensated, rehabilitated and resettled, with no one becoming worse off. This book tries to present a holistic view. It is not that the book glorifies economic growth ignoring its marginalising processes. An objective academic view should take note of both Broad-Basing, or inclusive, and the marginalising processes and probe into the net outcome. That is what this book attempts. I thank all the contributors profusely for their valuable articles. In spite of their very busy schedules, they spared their time for me out of love and regard. They have given me the benefit of their expertise, deep thinking and commitment. I thank Subhashree Banerjee for spotting a few mistakes and correcting them and neatly arranging the draft typescript for publication. I am grateful also to my daughter-in-law Amita for help in overcoming computer glitches whenever they emerged and in preparing the finalised version for publication on the computer. I am indeed grateful to Dr Shashank Shekhar Sinha and his Routledge team for processing and publishing the manuscript in good time. Last but certainly not the least, my hearty thanks to the publisher’s anonymous reviewer for very constructive and valuable suggestions which have contributed to further enriching the book.


The introductory part of the book, which is Chapter 1, explains the concept of Broad-Basing and its working. Briefly, Broad-Basing (or mainstreaming) is a process through which an increasing number of social groups enter the mainstream of social, political and economic activities and progressively derive the same advantages from the society as the groups already in the mainstream. Broad-Basing occurs alongside and often in response to the challenge of the opposite process of marginalisation, the two processes operating at the expense of each other. Broad-Basing is distinguished from similar other processes like social mobility, Sanskritisation, ‘trickle-down’, empowerment and integration. The close mutual link between BroadBasing, democratisation and civil society activism is discussed. Though conceptually different, all these processes generally contribute to Broad-Basing. After independence, judicial activism has been playing a constructive role in promoting social justice and hence Broad-Basing. Character of the state and its changes therein are also critically discussed from the four angles of caste, class, political parties and decentralisation, respectively – all of which have a great influence on Broad-Basing. Religion though considered, is held as not relevant in this process. A historical review of the Broad-Basing process is an interesting part of this chapter. Broad-Basing as it operated in the past is also discussed, since it is not a totally new process. It was in operation even in the distant past in India, by which outstanding poets in Sanskrit like Valmiki, Vyasa and Kalidasa had emerged from lower castes, enriching India’s literature and culture in spite of the caste system. In the medieval age, the Bhakti movement further contributed to the process under which many saint-poets from downtrodden castes came into prominence, whose followers came from all classes and castes. During the British period, both marginalisation and Broad-Basing were in operation with renewed intensity, the former prevailing over the latter till at least the beginning of the 20th century. Marginalisation took place during this period through the bulk of artisans losing their jobs and many small farmers losing their right to land due to the introduction of the Zamindari system. On the other hand, English education and its spread helped inculcation of democratic and humanistic values of

2  Prologue particularly equality and human dignity. It made many intellectuals sit up, introspect on the state of our society and introduce social reforms which strengthened Broad-Basing. Movements by Jyotirao Phule, Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy, Narayana Guru and Dr B. R. Ambedkar, who came from the lower castes, attacked the prevailing caste system and its unjust hierarchy and played a prominent role in accentuating Broad-Basing. After India’s independence, the process got a significant boost by the Constitution of India, the policy of positive discrimination or reservation, and initiation of planned economic development. The Ambedkar movement operated with renewed vigour for the uplift of Scheduled Castes (SCs) after independence. However, the acceleration of economic growth widened inequality in wealth and incomes, but all social groups gained significantly in absolute terms by it, though unequally. Under new forces of capitalist economic growth, the main factors which had structured the feudal caste system were very much weakened. Thus the old forces of feudalism gave way to new forces of capitalism. This has complicated the Indian society and polity, because even before the old caste system disappeared, new forms of inequality and marginalisation emerged. The main theme of the volume has to do with the question of whether the process of marginalisation, which was dominant under colonial rule, has clearly given way to a Broad-Basing process in the 70 years after independence. Among the rest of the chapters, we first take up those which deal with Broad-Basing in relation to relatively marginalised social groups – Dalits, OBCs, Muslims, women and the labour class. Then follows Broad-Basing among regions or states within India. This is followed by chapters dealing with different processes and how they have affected Broad-Basing – economic development, urbanisation, infrastructure development, the digital revolution and policies and practice of environmental conservation. Chapter 2 by M. V. Nadkarni, on ‘The Broad-Basing Process and Dalits’, focuses on the changing social, political and economic status of Dalits. Indicators like poverty ratios, literacy rates, employment status, wage ratios and proportion of graduates in the population show that Dalits still lag behind the general population, though showing significant improvements in absolute terms. Dalits now are definitely a part of the mainstream of the polity and society, though less so of the economy. They cannot any longer be taken for granted. Though atrocities still take place against Dalits, they generate instant and widely publicised protests and their incidence is lower than the general crime rate. The chapter concludes that Broad-Basing has been having a tough fight with the forces of marginalisation even with state help for the former. It is evident that the long-term tendency has been for BroadBasing definitely to win, but its victory is rather slow even if significant, and yet to show results adequate enough to end social disparities. Chapter 3 by Manohar Yadav, titled ‘Whither the Dalit Movement in Karnataka? Its Achievements and Challenges’, traces the course of Dalit movements in Karnataka – one of the states where the movement has been

Prologue 3 strong and sustained. To some extent at least, this is an insider account since the author was a leading participant in it since his student days. Yadav traces the origin of the movement to Basavanna (12th century), who fought the caste system and for social justice till the end. However, the movement could make an impact only after Dr B. R. Ambedkar came on the scene. Yadav acknowledges the contribution made by Periyar in Tamil Nadu to the anti-caste movement by fighting the hegemony of Brahmins in public life, which influenced Karnataka too. However, the anti-Brahmin movement in old Mysore brought more benefits to the OBCs than to Dalits proper. It was Dr Ambedkar’s impact which made a huge difference, as Dalits in Karnataka too fell under his spell; it was his concerted efforts focusing on Dalits which contributed to their rise. In the post-Ambedkar period, Yadav traces three phases of the movement: mobilisation and organisation of Dalits under Shyam Sunder in the first phase, the forceful push to the movement by Basavalingappa in the second phase after a lull, and further widening of the movement under Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) in the third phase. All three phases contributed to raising Dalit consciousness and the struggle for their rights. The emergence of Dalit literature in Kannada by eminent Dalit poets and writers like Devanoor Mahadeva is an important achievement of the movement showing the creativity of Dalits. Dalit movement in Karnataka also fought social evils like the Devadasi system and nude worship of the Yellamma Goddess. Dalits also launched struggles to secure land for the landless agricultural labourers with some success. In spite of these achievements, Yadav feels that the success of the movement has been limited, and the challenge continues to be difficult. For example, though having competent Dalit leaders, Karnataka could not so far have a Dalit chief minister. Dalits’ stride in the economy is very inadequate, and prejudices against Dalits in the society and polity have far from vanished. What is sad, as Yadav rues, even before the goals are achieved, the Dalit movement has splintered. Its future is not clear. Next to SCs and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the most deprived sections of India’s population were what are officially designated as the ‘Other Backward Classes’ (OBCs). Chapter 4, contributed by Anil Kumar Vaddiraju, is on how the Broad-Basing process has affected these classes. The OBCs constitute about 52% of the country’s total population but there has been no clarity, precision or unanimity about exactly which communities form them. A few communities previously considered as OBCs were later included among the SCs or STs. Because of the preponderant size of OBCs, their level of human development has had a defining influence on the development of the country as a whole. The Bhakti movements in the medieval ages contributed to their rise in the culture and society of the country, while the land reforms after independence raised their economic status in the rural society, with several communities assuming the status of what M. N. Srinivas called the Dominant Castes. Their rise in the politics of India’s states has been one of the most conspicuous developments in Indian politics. As Anil Kumar Vaddiraju notes,

4  Prologue this has also brought them into conflict with Dalit aspirations. They have also not been very helpful in the emancipation of women. Child marriages still take place in some of their communities in villages. Unfortunately, in several cases (particularly in northern states of India), some of the OBCs have been a factor in obscurantism and orthodoxy, illustrated by the influence of Khap Panchayats, and have hindered the process of democratisation and BroadBasing. Also, while their rise in politics has helped quite a few among them to gain enormously in power and wealth, the majority of OBCs have still remained backward in human development. Yet several famous writers and poets have emerged from these communities, and so have eminent political leaders. OBCs are not, therefore, amenable to easy generalisations. In a way, they represent the complexity and paradoxes of the country as a whole. Muslims are easily recognised as numerically the most important among religious minorities in India. Chapter 5 in the volume, by Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari, is on ‘The Broad-Basing Process in India and Muslims’. They show that there has been a process of Broad-Basing or convergence across socio-economic and religious groups in terms of indicators like poverty, literacy, education and even employment, but the rate of catching up of the marginalised groups with the rest has not been satisfactory enough. Disparities in particularly income are rising. However, there has been a faster decline in poverty rate among Muslims than among the rest. The preponderance of the informal economy into which most of the Muslim workers are caught, their lower representation in higher education and gender biases are major stumbling blocks in the progress of Muslims, according to these authors. The lower work participation of Muslim women is a significant factor in Muslims lagging behind others in employment. There is particularly a need to ensure increased participation of Muslim women in education and employment through affirmative policies. A clue to the economic backwardness of Muslims – at least of a majority of them – is provided by Chalam (2011: 104–113). He observes that a majority of the Muslim converts in India are believed to have come from the lower social groups, particularly from the artisan castes. But rural artisans have suffered from several disabilities both during the colonial period due to liberal low-priced imports of manufactured goods from England, and also subsequently after independence due to the rise of modern industry, which had the same impact. Most of the artisans were reduced to the status of agricultural labourers. Economic and technological development bypassed them. Economic reforms since 1991 increased the size of the informal sector, which had the same impact. Most of the artisans were reduced to the status of agricultural labourers. Research and development activities have not contributed much to modernising the skills of and markets for rural artisans. This is so in spite of the setting up of a separate Khadi and Village Industries Board. Thus the destiny of Muslims in India is tied up to a great extent with the destiny of workers in the informal sector, and their Broad-Basing can be promoted with the improvement in the conditions and status of the informal sector.

Prologue 5 The book does not cover other religious minorities in India like Christians, Jains, Sikhs and Farsees (Zoroastrians). This is not because they are not important; they certainly are also citizens equal in rights to the followers of other religions. They are playing an important role both in the polity and economy, and society too, in spite of the fact that compared to Muslims they account for a much smaller proportion of the total population. But unlike Muslims, these minorities do not have significant marginalised sections and are much better integrated with the mainstream without discrimination. In fact on the average, their human development levels are higher than that of Hindus. Chapter 6 is by Lavanya Suresh on ‘The Broad-Basing Process in India and Women’. She begins by observing that one section of society that constantly had to fight for their rights was women, and that one reason why such a hardfought battle has still not been won is that gender is culturally and socially constructed. Women are not a homogeneous single category. They are also divided into castes and classes like men, and often these identities dominate over gender among women. The way gender is articulated is determined by the patriarchal system of social structures and practices in which men dominate. Patriarchy exists through articulation of class and caste that intersect to create further forms of discrimination. Work is an important way through which women are discriminated against by being sidelined in paid work, although they do a tremendous lot of unpaid work. Labour force participation of women is not only low already, but it is declining further in India. Ownership of means of production is also adverse to women. Seventy-four per cent of rural women are agricultural workers, but only 9.4% own land. Less than 9% of firms have a female top manager. Lavanya takes note of the number of steps the Indian state has taken to uphold the constitutional rights of women to equal treatment and to prevent crimes against women. Half of the total seats in local bodies are reserved for women (raised from the earlier one-third), though such a step is yet to be taken at the national level in the Parliament or even at the state level. Nevertheless, the significant reservation for women in local bodies has helped them to get into public life, face-to-face with men. Many women have become chairpersons of local bodies. Women have taken significant strides in education and governance of the country. However, prejudices against having a girl child still persist, in spite of a number of incentives for having and educating a girl child. In respect of health, however, there have been significant gains for women. Maternal mortality rate has significantly declined, though it is still higher in India than in China. Though there has been improvements in absolute terms, India is still behind many other countries in the Gender Gap Index. In 2017, India ranked 107th among 144 countries, having declined in rank from 87 in 2016. The sex ratio is still adverse. Lavanya concludes, however, by observing that there is now much greater social awareness about the rights of women. This is a source of some optimism. Chapter 7, by Vinay Kumar, is titled ‘Whither Workers in India?’ Its focus is on non-agricultural, mainly urban workers. The situation of

6  Prologue agricultural workers is dealt with in the next chapter here, though as a part of a larger theme. According to Vinay Kumar, industrial workers in India, though much better off than agricultural workers, have never been in a dominant position either in the economy or polity. While ascendency of public sector and nationalisation in 1960s provided them social, economic and political respectability, this declined in the post-liberalisation 1990s. A vibrant private sector superseded the public sector and contract workers gradually replaced regular workers. Informal employment became a reality of the industrial landscape. Initially, contract workers went unheeded by stakeholders (employers, state, and trade unions) and deprived of basic requirements. But the necessity of industrial growth and peace compelled stakeholders to pay attention to their plight. This chapter argues that workers were empowered in the 1960s and 1970s, marginalised in the 1990s and again empowered after 2000, mainly through their own efforts at mobilisation, thanks to India’s democratic setup. Chapter 8 by Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon raises the question, ‘Is There a Broad-Basing Process in the Indian Economy?’ They answer it with the help of three criteria: food security, poverty and unemployment. Thanks to the economic reforms, economic growth in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) has certainly been significant in the last two decades, and the Indian economy has a noteworthy position in the global economy. Unfortunately, however, the achievements on the fronts of food security, poverty reduction and employment growth have not been equally impressive. The increase in food production has not resulted in wiping out nutritional deficiency among the poor. Infant mortality and under-5 mortality rates and prevalence of anaemia are still high among SCs and STs, though declining. The poverty rate has sharply fallen especially between 2004–05 and 2011–12, but 1 in 5 Indians continued to be poor even by 2011–12, which is a high incidence of poverty compared with other countries like China. The SCs and STs have higher rates of poverty. The states which have high levels of poverty are also showing a slower decline in poverty than others. Overall, however, the number of the poor is declining in absolute terms, though still high. Employment growth is taking place mainly in the nonfarm sector, being 3.49% per annum during 1993–94 to 2004–05, but it is much slower in the farm sector where it is a mere 0.40% per annum. But it is in the farm sector where there is a crisis,1 and both agricultural labourers and farmers are migrating from rural to urban areas in large numbers in search of more remunerative employment, which they do not get within agriculture. Viability of agriculture is declining, and agricultural labourers are now outnumbering farmers. Even within the non-farm sector, informal employment is increasing more than formal employment. Ironically, even within the formal sector, non-formal employment is increasing at the cost of the formal. Thus a large portion of the workforce – in agriculture and also non-farm sector – does not have job security, paid sick leave, medical reimbursement and retirement benefits. The conclusion of the authors is that

Prologue 7 though growth of GDP is good and has to continue to be good, it has not brought the marginalised into the mainstream of the advantaged. To solve the problem, they recommend greater stress on employment generation, skill creation, boosting the education and health sectors ensuring benefits to the marginalised, and a massive push to the village economy. Chapter 9 is by R. S. Deshpande, on ‘Is the Indian Digital Revolution Broad-Based?’ He observes that India is now among the world’s leading countries in digital knowledge creation and dissemination. There has been unimaginably fast progress in the growth and spread of digitisation. The country now stands shoulder to shoulder with developed countries in this regard. He says that there are many sectors in India where one cannot proceed without some basic understanding of digital technology. Deshpande traces the brief history of the progress of the digital revolution. The most important digital application was in the field of communications. The author is critical of ‘techno-phobia’, an irrational fear of new technology which is oblivious of its vast benefits. But he also raises some basic questions and answers them cautiously. Are the digital technologies accessible to all in this country of wide differences? Will their spread create problems for the economically weak groups? The author discusses technical and economic barriers to the spread of digital technology. Digital technology appears to have boosted the growth of India’s GDP. But has it also slowed down job creation in the economy? It may be argued that such an adverse effect may be in the short run, but we may always be in the short run, and the long run may never come! In any case, the author’s conclusion seems to be that digital technology has a vast potential for Broad-Basing (apart from mere growth), but there are barriers to be overcome, and imaginative and constructive policy is needed in the interest of Broad-Basing the benefits of the technology. Incidentally, Deshpande welcomes demonetisation and the drive to a more cashless economy, since it has the potential to compel tax compliance and check black money. Chapter 10 by Kala S. Sridhar is on ‘Urbanisation in India: Is It BroadBasing?’ Urbanisation has the potential of being liberating for the rural masses under the shackles of feudal oppression. It can offer new opportunities for coming into the mainstream. But how has urbanisation actually fared in India? This is the question that the author poses in this chapter. Unfortunately, the growth of urban population has shown a sharp deceleration after 2001, though increasing steadily in absolute terms. The official policy has been to ‘control’ urbanisation to make it more evenly spread and to promote ‘growth centres’ in economically backward regions. Urbanisation has surely helped the rural economy. An important way has been through remittances by migrants to cities to their relatives in villages and extending help in developing rural housing and infrastructure. Urbanisation is important in achieving diversification of the national economy, boosting human development, and improving overall infrastructure in the country. The author points out that female literacy is higher in states that are more

8  Prologue urbanised. The sex ratio is better in rural areas because there are cities to migrate to for more men in search of work. The author concedes that living conditions of the urban poor are much less satisfactory than their rural counterparts. But she quotes Glaeser to say that the poor migrants’ lives are not made worse by the city, but the city attracts poor migrants with the hope that it will improve their lives one day. Further, she notes a number of ways in which urbanisation has helped the poor. Urban poverty has declined faster than rural poverty, and there has been a significant and faster reduction in the proportion of slum population in India over the years, bringing it down below the world average. There has also been a decline in the proportion of urban households living in ‘dilapidated’ dwellings, which stood at only 2.9% in 2011–12. The author notes that the proportion of casual labour in urban India has declined from 18% in 1999–2000 to 15% in 2011–12. Even the urban unemployment rate has declined, though it continues to be higher for women. On the whole, urbanisation has been beneficial according to the author, contributing positively to the BroadBasing process. However, its spatial distribution is uneven, and large cities are growing faster both in number and population. Caste-based spatial segregation has persisted, but this is more in small and medium-sized cities. So is the case with caste discrimination against the marginalised. The author feels that the disparities between cities in respect of infrastructure and amenities need to be addressed seriously. Chapter 11 is by Sunil Nautiyal on ‘Post-independence Conservation Policies and Implementation in India: A Socio-economic and Ecological Appraisal’. He starts by stressing that India is a mega-diverse country, and has at least two global biodiversity hot spots: the Himalayas and the Western Ghats. It is India’s sacred responsibility to conserve and protect them. Biodiversity supports ecosystems that sustain human livelihoods and its protection is of vital importance in ensuring the survival of humankind. A number of laws have been passed and institutional structures have been erected to protect this biodiversity. But this can run into conflict with the livelihoods of people living in and near forests, unless managed imaginatively caring for both biodiversity and human livelihoods. Have the conservation policies and their implementation managed to do this in India? This is the theme of this chapter. It is a challenging task to reconcile both objectives, which the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 aims to achieve. A difficult feature of the forest situation in India is that a significant number of people still live in and near forests and depend on the forests for their livelihood. They constitute the most marginalised section of people, who hardly have the benefits and amenities of civilisation like school education and health care. Yet, in their effort to eke out a livelihood, the existence of a large forest-dependent population poses a threat to conservation of wildlife and biodiversity.2 It is neither possible nor desirable to forcibly evict such a huge number from the forests, but ultimately in the interest of their own future a good proportion of them have to be encouraged to resettle outside forests with all amenities of civilisation provided, but

Prologue 9 permitting those who are interested in continuing in forests to stay there. As yet there has been no coherent policy addressed to this problem. The author does not raise the question of inducing forest people to resettle outside but reviews the decade-long experience of implementing the FRA. His considered view is that there has been success neither in the task of conservation nor in satisfying tribal claims to land. The failure is particularly conspicuous in satisfying the claims of tribal communities who move from place to place, which is common with them. So only a minority of these people who have settled for at least three generations and can prove their cultivation of fixed pieces of land for so long can benefit from the act. The protected areas put serious restrictions on human settlements and livestock grazing, which tend to limit livelihood opportunities. In spite of this, that many of these people still continue to live in or near forests shows that they prefer even this kind of fractured livelihood to the uncertainty of life in the event of resettlement elsewhere. Nautiyal points out, however, that with all the restrictions on the forest people, the forest authorities have not succeeded in the task of protecting biodiversity. There has been invasion of exotic weed species like Lantana camara and Eupatorium, which threaten biodiversity. The potential of tribal settlements in fighting the invasion of such exotic species and in general taking care of both biodiversity and their own livelihoods does not seem to have been realised. Both the people living in the forests and the Forest Department are still looking for viable solutions to resolve the conflict. The concluding chapter, Chapter 12 by M. V. Nadkarni and Subhashree Banerjee, is on ‘The Way Forward’. The gist of almost all the chapters is that the Broad-Basing process is certainly in operation but is not adequate. The socially disadvantaged groups are bypassed in sharing equitably the benefits of economic development. The chapter discusses what is the way forward, given this fact. It argues that economic growth in the last two decades has been significant and has yielded enough resources for the state to end deprivation of the marginalised. India has to actively play the role of a welfare state which its constitution has entrusted to it. There has to be universal health care, food security, universal and free primary and secondary education, unemployment insurance, and an old age pension for the poor. There is scope to tax the rich for raising resources for the purpose. By these measures, extreme inequality and marginalisation would be moderated, and Broad-Basing promoted. M. V. Nadkarni Bengaluru

Notes See Nadkarni (2018: 28–34). 1 2 According to Bibhu Prasad Nayak, Priyanka Kohli and J. V. Sharma, the estimates of people dependent on forests for livelihood vary from 275 million to 400 million in India. See (downloaded on 23 April 2018). Thanks are due to Sunil Nautiyal for this reference.

1 The Broad-Basing process in India An introduction1 M. V. Nadkarni

The concept of Broad-Basing and related processes In an article in the Economic & Political Weekly, I had advanced the concept of a Broad-Basing process, applying it mainly to Dalits (Nadkarni 1997). Broad-Basing (or mainstreaming), however, is a wider process by which more and more social groups that were formerly deprived or marginalised enter the mainstream of social, political and economic life to derive the same advantages as the groups already in the mainstream. It also means that the social basis of the power structure widens, and in the process it becomes more and more inclusive. Sometimes inclusion can be undesirable or adverse when it is very exploitative. By Broad-Basing, we do not mean such inclusion. Evidently Broad-Basing and development, especially desirably inclusive and democratic development, would go in the same direction. Though economic growth is an inevitable part of development because the former fuels the latter – at least in developing countries if not the developed or advanced – mere economic growth in terms of increase in gross national product (GNP) by itself will not cause Broad-Basing. It will cause it only if the income growth is shared so well with people at the bottom of the society that poverty and absolute deprivation are wiped out and significant gains occur in their levels of living. Though equitable sharing of growth is more desirable, which should indeed be the policy goal, and it would indeed be effective and real Broad-Basing, it may rarely take place in most countries. If, however, even absolute gains do not take place significantly and, poverty and absolute deprivation are not wiped out, then it is not a case of BroadBasing at all. Under moderate Broad-Basing, the lower half of the population may not share the growth in income more than or even to the same extent as the upper classes, but they should at least be significantly enough better off compared to the past to be able to enjoy decent if not lavish standards of living with adequate education and good health for all. A more real Broad-Basing occurs when even relative disparities in income and levels of living are significantly reduced. Broad-Basing occurs alongside and often in response to the challenge of the opposite process of marginalisation. The two processes operate at the expense of each other. Broad-Basing operates to widen the power base, with the number of the marginalised

The Broad-Basing process in India 11 sharply declining. Society then becomes less polarised and more democratic in the bargain. In other words, marginalisation is reversed here significantly if not ended altogether, and even the needs of the remaining marginalised are taken care of well so that there is no serious deprivation. In such a case, the Broad-Basing process can be said to be the dominating feature of social change. If on the other hand, social, political and economic forces so operate that marginalisation is dominant, the power structure gets narrower and society becomes intensely polarised and less democratic. The most important question for a student of social change is to see which of the two scenarios prevails in the society concerned at any point of time, and if the Broad-Basing that has taken place is just moderate or real. This volume as a whole is an attempt to answer such a question in the context of India. The analysis of the Broad-Basing and marginalisation processes is made here in a holistic perspective, in the sense that unless otherwise stated, the two processes are taken to be operating in society inclusive of polity and economy too. While in pre-independence India marginalisation had prevailed over Broad-Basing, has the picture changed during the 70 years of independence? Dalits (inclusive of Scheduled Tribes, or STs) being the most marginalised section of society, the real test of the BroadBasing process occurring is to see whether Dalits enter the mainstream with equal rights. However, the volume goes beyond Dalits and tries to see if the process is in operation with regard to other vulnerable sections of the Indian society, particularly women, Muslims and blue-collar workers. The process is examined in relation to inter-regional differences too. This is done in various chapters of this volume. It is useful to distinguish between Broad-Basing on the one hand and similar processes like social mobility, ‘trickle-down’, empowerment, integration and democratisation. Social mobility is an important means by which BroadBasing occurs but may at times fall short of Broad-Basing. Social mobility is often concerned with individuals or families and sometimes with individual communities, whereas Broad-Basing refers to the society as a whole and its power structure. Moreover, to the extent that the shifting of livelihood from one context or place to another takes place without any significant change of the group’s relationship with the others, it falls short of Broad-Basing. The new relationship should be more equitable, resulting in a gain of respectability, wiping out the traditional feudal and hierarchical relationship. The ‘trickle-down’ process has a narrower connotation for similar reasons. It means that as a result of macro processes such as economic growth, certain benefits may accrue to the downtrodden who may be a little better off than before. Often such benefits are in absolute terms, but not in relative terms which can reduce inequality. It may not involve reduction in differences between those who possess power – social, economic and political – and others who are deprived. ‘Trickle down’ does not suggest empowerment and achievement of equity. Though Broad-Basing involves empowerment, it is useful to distinguish between the two terms. Empowerment of the hitherto

12  M. V. Nadkarni deprived is the means by which Broad-Basing is achieved. Empowerment can take place in different contexts. In a violent revolutionary process, empowerment of the hitherto oppressed can be expected to lead to the destruction of the earlier power structure and its replacement by a new one, which may not however be necessarily Broad-Based. On the other hand, in an accommodative process, which is usually peaceful (at least relatively speaking), empowerment leads to the widening of the power structure which will begin to include more and more of the hitherto deprived. Broad-Basing can and should take place as an accommodative process. However, Broad-Basing need not be an automatic or preordained process and certainly not a result of the ‘charity’ of the powerful. It occurs as a result of conscious efforts on the part of deprived social groups and their visionary peers to improve their status.2 It may be a slow process, but not a smooth one, and it has to overcome resistance; at every step it involves relentless struggles to change the existing social order, and in this context it is a revolutionary process3 (for a documentation of these struggles, see Rao 1978; Oommen 1990; Omvedt 1994; Zelliot 1996). Broad-Basing is different from integration. Families of the deprived castes/ classes who join the mainstream of society may retain their separate social and cultural identities and may not become one integrated mass of homogeneous people. To the extent that integration indicates inclusion in the power base of the society sharing benefits and functions on an equitable basis, Broad-Basing can he said to be involving integration. The term ‘integration’ is also used as indicating incorporation into a system of inter-relationship, where it may differ from Broad-Basing. The former untouchables were integrated into the traditional rural Hindu society, with certain duties clearly earmarked for them, whereby they were very much a part of the rural society and economy. Yet they were not a part of the rural power structure and their ‘integration’ could not amount to Broad-Basing, Thus the term ‘integration’ is used with different connotation in different contexts, and does not exactly and unequivocally convey Broad-Basing. The connotations of Broad-Basing and democratisation come quite close to each other, but they are not identical. Though it can be an end in itself, democratisation can be taken also as a means of achieving and maintaining Broad-Basing. ‘Democratisation’ is usually taken to refer to polity and to a lesser extent the society. Its connotation with reference to the economy is not always clear. Broad-Basing, strictly speaking, applies to all three spheres. It means not only the sharing of political power with the hitherto deprived and the end of social indignities heaped on them, but also the sharing of economic power and prosperity. There may be lags in the operation of Broad-Basing between the three spheres. Both liberty and equality are fundamental principles of a democracy, not liberty alone. Both liberty and equality pertain to all three spheres – polity, society and economy, and not to polity alone. It is not enough that all citizens have equal voting power. A democracy based on elections alone has a very narrow foundation, though certainly elections are important, and equal voting power is a minimum necessary requirement for

The Broad-Basing process in India 13 both democracy and Broad-Basing. But it is only a minimum, not an adequate, requirement. The essence of a democracy is that all the citizens have equal human rights – the right to life, decent living conditions, to food and education, to freedom of expression including the freedom to criticise the state policies and their implementation, to free association with others for peaceful and constructive purposes, to own and dispose of property without being under pressure, to employment or an occupation for livelihood and similar related rights. No Broad-Basing is possible and meaningful without these rights. The connection between Broad-Basing and democracy is thus clear. A democratic state guarantees the aforementioned rights, and the civil society is a repository of such rights. The civil society is the aggregate of free associations of individuals in the societal sphere – of non-governmental organisations and institutions, which can reflect the will and activities of people. An active civil society compels the attention of the state to make and amend appropriate laws, policies and institutions which avoid injustice and promote the welfare of both the society and its individual members. There have been conspicuous social movements in India particularly since the 1980s against caste oppression and inequities, exploitative working conditions, child labour, displacement of people in the name of development without proper compensation and rehabilitation packages, exploitation of women, discrimination against the third gender, environmental destruction, exploitation of farmers due to unfair prices, and against loss of livelihoods or injustice due to any cause. There have been movements also for the right to information and filing public interest litigation, the right to shelter, universal primary education, food security and consumer protection including the protection of patients against medical negligence. These agitations have often led to necessary legislations and have contributed to the Broad-Basing process in India. Article 19 of the Constitution of India provides for the democratic right to protest as a part of the right to freedom. It is only a free civil society that can do that, and a free civil society is possible only in a democracy. Thus a civil society advocates the rights of citizens and fights against their infringement. This may include mobilising public opinion and launching of protest movements. An ideal civic society also provides services in areas where the state is not active enough. Charitable hospitals, dispensaries, schools, hostels, and chhatrams (free residential and/or dining facilities for pilgrims and others) in India are examples of such services and their constructive role. Thus, it is not only the state and its agencies which can promote BroadBasing, but the civil society too. They fill up the gaps left by the state. It is relevant to remember M. K. Gandhi here. He said: ‘Swaraj government will be a sorry affair if people look up to it for regulation of every detail of life’ (Gandhi 1962: 4). Overdependence on the state leads to loss of freedom, he believed. He wanted a strong and active civil society to ensure freedom. It is pertinent to observe that for a civil society to be effective, it need not be one homogeneous mass. In fact, diversity helps. In any country, there are different communities and each community can have an association to care for the welfare of its members and to safeguard their interests. In India, there

14  M. V. Nadkarni are caste associations for almost every caste or community and they are quite active. They have also played a positive role. The Ezhavas’ movement under the leadership of Narayana Guru in Kerala and the Nadars’ movement in Tamil Nadu in the first half of the last century for the uplift of their respective communities helped them to overcome their status of low-caste ‘untouchables’. They are bright examples of how even caste associations have played a positive and constructive role (Nadkarni 2003: 4789). There are several more examples of this type. The caste associations have started schools in rural areas, students’ hostels in towns and cities for the benefit of children coming from cities, established hospitals, constructed community halls for the conduct of weddings and other functions, and floated scholarships for students to pursue higher studies. Some of these institutions like schools and hospitals have not been confined to their respective caste members but thrown open to others also. Though the caste associations have further strengthened caste consciousness, they have also contributed to promoting equality between castes and Broad-Basing in the society. They are a part of the diverse civil society in India. Their contributions have not necessarily been at mutual expense, but have on the whole promoted Broad-Basing by helping to draw lower and less developed castes to come into the mainstream of the society, polity and even economy. However, certain caste associations like the khaap panchayats still surviving in some rural regions have played a negative role by trying to prevent inter-caste marriages. In an environment of mutual tolerance and understanding, where it is acknowledged by all that all castes have to co-exist and develop in a co-operative spirit, under the belief that there is scope for development of all, caste associations can play a positive role. But if they regard each other as adversaries to be defeated or suppressed, they can be very harmful to the process of Broad-Basing. Autonomous of both the executive and legislative arms of the state, and also of the civil society, there is also a strong judicial system in India which promotes the Broad-Basing process. An interesting part of this system is what is called its judicial activism. Judicial activism takes place when the law courts review the state action including both legislation and governance. It is not meant to interfere with the day-to-day affairs of the state but to fill the gaps left by the state and/or to correct the actions of the state to fulfil the goals of the constitution including particularly social justice and ensuring human rights. Article 13 of the constitution along with Articles 32 and 226 gives the power of judicial review to the higher judiciary (the Supreme Court and the High Courts), under which it can ‘declare any legislative, executive or administrative action void if it is in contravention of the Constitution. The power of judicial review is a basic structure of the Indian Constitution’ (Jaswal and Singh 2017: 1). Judicial activism, however, is not confined to judicial review. The higher judiciary can take into account petitions not only from aggrieved parties but also from public spirited individuals or institutions without locus standi. Often there is reluctance or inability to directly approach courts of law on the part of aggrieved parties for a variety of reasons – lack of awareness of one’s rights, poverty, lack of adequate access

The Broad-Basing process in India 15 to higher judiciary, or fear of reprisal. That is when the role of public interest litigation (PIL) becomes relevant, which is possible only in a strong and developed civil society. The Supreme Court of India has recognised the need and legitimacy of PIL, which has become a powerful aid for Broad-Basing. Besides this, the higher judiciary can take initiative suo moto and intervene to correct injustice and prevent harm including harm to environment. An early example of how judicial activism contributed to promoting Broad-Basing in India is the action taken by the Supreme Court in the Bihar Under-Trials case in 1980. A series of articles had appeared in the press about the miserable plight of under-trial prisoners, some of whom had completed the maximum imprisonment due without even being charged. Following a writ petition filed by an advocate, the Supreme Court held that the right to speedy trial is a fundamental right and directed the state to provide legal facilities to under-trials so that they can get a bail or final release (Jaswal and Singh 2017: 6). The High Court judges even visited the prisons to check on the living conditions of prisoners. This was clearly a case of correcting a serious lapse on the part of the government. The Supreme Court recognised the fundamental right of children of 6 to 16 years to universal and free primary education as early as in 1984 (ibid.: 8); it was only recently that this was followed up by a proper legislation by the Parliament when the Right to Education Act was passed in 2009. In fact, such an act should have been passed soon after independence. In 2011, the Supreme Court directed the government to prohibit employment of children in circuses so as to implement the fundamental right of children to education (ibid.: 9). It is thus clear that judicial activism has filled an important felt gap in the system to ensure fundamental human rights, particularly in the case of the deprived and marginalised sections of people in India.

Broad-Basing process before independence An important characteristic of Indian society is that it was never neatly bipolar. Though the dominant elite and the most deprived were always identifiable, there was also a vast mass of people between them who enjoyed some independent status whose support was valued by the elite. Though Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas clearly constituted the elite, others corresponding to today’s Other Backward Classes (OBCs) placed in between the elite and the Dalits were an important segment of society. They were a heterogeneous class, some of whom had control over landed property while others were labourers. In a complex society like this, both Broad-Basing and marginalisation could be in operation. Peasant castes who were called upon to join the armies in support of the kings could claim and even attain a higher rank in the social hierarchy. Some of them even established new kingdoms and started new royal dynasties. This upgradation of peasant castes was not necessarily a zero-sum game and must have resulted in the expansion of the power base of the society. This process was not confined only to those who had martial talent; some must have travelled to other lands taking up trade

16  M. V. Nadkarni and claiming themselves to be Shreshthis or Vaishyas. Even the entry to the class of the learned was not entirely closed contrary to what is generally believed. The most celebrated among the Sanskrit writers – Valmiki, Vyasa and Kalidasa – were not Brahmins but came from the most deprived classes/ castes. Similarly, Satyakaama Jaabaala, an eminent philosopher who wrote the Aranyakas in Sanskrit, came from a low stratum of society. It is clear that Sanskrit was not an exclusive domain of Brahmins. Those persons who showed talents in philosophy and literature were honoured members of the class of the learned and were treated as Brahmins. How could such eminent examples like Kalidasa emerge from them unless there was some openness of entry for the lower castes in the world of learning? But there are also examples like Ekalavya (of the Mahabharata time), who was denied the education he craved for and had to cut off his thumb for having learnt archery though not a Kshatriya. Evidently, ancient Hindu society is not amenable to easy generalisations. It was not a static society and ‘religion’ itself had been changing. Manu’s doctrines were written at the most decadent phase of Hinduism, but his work never had the same stature in Hinduism as the Upanishads, which were written in an age of free inquiry by all those who were interested in philosophy irrespective of class or caste. Marginalisation dominated Broad-Basing during the decadent phase of Hinduism, when society became rigid, determining status by birth rather than talent. Notions of purity and pollution constituted religiosity, pushing the inclusive philosophy of the Upanishads into a corner. Society became so hierarchical and stratified that it became vulnerable to external attacks. Yet Hindu society did not remain static after the days of Ekalavya. Gautham Buddha criticised the caste system and rejected the scriptures that sanctified it. After a long gap, Hinduism underwent many upheavals towards a Broad-Basing society thanks to the Bhakti movement. A majority of the leaders of this movement came from the non-Brahmin lower castes, while its followers came from all classes and castes (Nadkarni 2013: 203–250). The philosophy of this movement was that any person, however poor, irrespective of caste, could realise God and attain bliss through simple devotion to God. The Bhakti saints preached their philosophy in people’s own local languages, not in Sanskrit. The Bhakti movement contributed to the democratisation and Broad-Basing of Hindu society and religion. The roots of Bhakti philosophy go back to pre-decadent Hinduism, expressed eloquently in Narada’s Bhakti Sutras, Ramayana (illustrated through characters like Hanuman and Shabari), and the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita has a separate chapter on Bhakti Marg, a distinct path in its own right for spiritual attainment. Nevertheless, rituals and rules of purity and pollution gained dominance later, relegating all the paths of spiritual attainment mentioned in the Gita to the background. It is for a historian to say what revived the Bhakti movement again, adding a distinct social flavour of anti-casteism, antiritualism, compassion for the poor and equality of human beings. It is possible that the entry of Islam into India and its egalitarian philosophy could have been an indirect influence. However even before Islam could have had

The Broad-Basing process in India 17 an impact, Ramanuja (11th–12th century) in the deep south not only revived the Bhakti philosophy but also took into his fold non-Brahmins including the then untouchables. He looked down upon the caste distinctions with contempt (Seshadri 1996). Approximately around the same time (12th century), a socially aware and explicitly anti-caste Bhakti movement was started by Basaveshwara in south India, also before the impact of Islam there. He called upon people to respect manual labour and end caste inequality in society. He took into his fold devotees of low castes including untouchables and even inspired a marriage between the daughter of his Brahmin disciple with the son of a disciple of untouchable caste. Similarly, before the influence of Islam was felt in Maharashtra, Sant Jnaneshwar (13th century) interpreted the Bhagavad Gita for common people in Marathi to say that for the Supreme God, caste differences did not matter and all people were the same.4 A Dalit saint, Chokhamela (13th–14th century), and Eknath (16th century) were more explicit in denouncing caste differences. Islam had made its presence felt in Maharashtra by the time of Eknath. The revival of Bhakti and egalitarianism – whether influenced by Islam or not – enabled Hinduism not only to survive but even thrive. Hinduism ceased to be mere Brahmanism thanks to the Bhakti movement. The most interesting aspect of the Bhakti movement was that it enveloped all the castes, including the lower castes and even the untouchables. Zelliot (1966: xiii) has listed several bhakti saint-poets from among the untouchables – Nandanar, Tiruppan Alvar, Ravidas, Chokhamela, Mahar Gopal Baba, and a chambhar woman saint called ‘Santbai’. There were several other saints like Gora Kumbhar and Kanakadasa from the so-called lower castes, though not untouchables. Some of them could even upgrade the status of their castes. The most prominent among such examples is in the early part of the 20th century by Swamy Narayana Guru in Kerala, who transformed the formerly untouchable caste of Izhavas (also called Ezhavas) into an honoured part of caste Hindu society [Pulapilly 1976; Rao 1978, Vol. 2: 197–198].5 Sanskritisation’ was another route to Broad-Basing Indian society – a concept introduced into Indian sociology in 1952 by M. N. Srinivas (Srinivas 1952). It is a ‘process by which a “low” Hindu caste, or tribal or other group, changes its customs, ritual, ideology and way of life in the direction of a high, and frequently, “twice born” caste’ (Srinivas 1977: 6). It can also include the way in which the whole caste or community is reorganised. A prominent example is the way some of these communities established mathas or monasteries just like Brahmins, and started their own guruparamparaa (lineage of gurus or heads of Mathas). The heads of these mathas played not merely a religious or ideological role but also a political role for extending the sphere of influence of their respective communities. However, Sanskritisation had serious limits in achieving Broad-Basing. As Srinivas himself explained: Sanskritisation is generally accompanied by and often results in upward mobility for the caste in question; but mobility also may occur without

18  M. V. Nadkarni sanskritisation and vice versa However, the mobility associated with sanskritisation takes place in an essentially stable hierarchical order. The system itself does not change. (Srinivas 1977: 7) What is equally significant is that Sanskritisation ‘enabled low castes which had acquired wealth or power to shed their low ritual status and be included among the high castes’ (Srinivas 1977: 93). It may not be very helpful for a caste which does not already have wealth or political power, though it has been used by such castes as a symbol of protest. That is why Jodhka observed: ‘The path of social mobility through Sanskritisation was not available to the untouchables. Only rarely could an “untouchable” community move up and overcome their “low” status while living within the framework of tradition’ (Jodhka 2012: 71). However, the success of Ezhavas in Kerala under the leadership of Shri Narayana Guru (1856–1928) and of few Dalit communities in having their own Mathas and Swamis to head them, has shown that Dalits too used the means of Sanskritisation. By itself, Sanskritisation could not have been instrumental in obtaining material benefits, but it certainly helped in enhancing sell respect and social stature. While the Bhakti movement dominated the pre-British period, Sanskritisation appears to be mainly a phenomenon which became prominent during the British period to compete with the upper castes in extending influence. During the British period, both marginalisation and Broad-Basing were in operation with renewed intensity, but at least up to the early part of the 20th century marginalisation seems to have dominated. Marginalisation took place mainly through thousands of rural artisans losing their jobs because of the import of factory-made products and also because of the introduction of the Zamindari system of land tenure. Both strengthened the hold of the upper castes. The spread of modern English education on secular lines was a double-edged weapon. On the one hand, it produced a new class of English educated elite differentiated from the bulk of people who could not afford access to modern education and found themselves unable to benefit from the new opportunities thrown open by technological development and urbanisation. On the other hand, the influence of democratic values and the entry of Christianity into India made Hindu intellectuals and leaders sit up and introspect about their society. The influence of new values like democracy and human rights stimulated a variety of reformist movements which sought to change the character of Hindu society, making it more democratic, rational, humane and egalitarian. These movements like Brahmo Samaj, Prarthana Samaj, Arya Samaj and the one led by Shri Narayana Guru in Kerala sought to reorder Hindu society on non-caste lines; these movements attracted many intellectuals. Hinduism interpreted by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda (1863– 1902) condemned casteism and religious bigotry, and laid strong emphasis on social service and uplift of the downtrodden.6 Mahatma Gandhi also took up with great earnestness the cause of untouchables, whom he called Harijans (children of God).

The Broad-Basing process in India 19 One of the spectacular success stories of transformation of an almost untouchable caste into a powerful community playing its rightful part in the mainstream of Indian society relates to the Nadars in Tamil Nadu. Being toddy tappers earlier, they were considered a defiling caste with no entry permitted into temples and were barely above untouchables. They had a landowning sub-caste who took to trading also and started a process of Sanskritisation by the end of the 19th century which enveloped almost the entire community They claimed Kshatriya status, organised Upanayanams (thread ceremonies) like caste Hindus and built their own temples. When they saw that Sanskritisation was not enough to meet their objective, a caste association was formed in 1910 which played a key role in their uplift on all fronts: educational, political, social and economic. The association even discouraged their community members from continuing with the traditional occupation of toddy tapping. By the time of independence, trading and industry became the main occupation of the community. It started playing a key role in the state and even national politics, bringing forth a leader of Kamaraj’s stature.7 Some of the movements, particularly like the one launched by Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy (1879–1973), challenged the hold of Brahmins. He did not confine himself to upward mobility of one particular caste but addressed all non-Brahmins. His followers did not go out of the Hindu society, despite the Periyar’s anti-Brahmanism. Even earlier, Jyotirao Phule (1827–1890) in Maharashtra had challenged the supremacy of upper castes, especially Brahmins, and helped in spreading education among lower castes and women. The non-Brahmin movement in Karnataka, like the Tamil Nadu counterpart, played an important role demanding and securing reservation in jobs for non-Brahmins. The main beneficiaries of this were the non-Brahmins of the intermediate castes in the first instance. Such benefits were subsequently demanded by leaders of depressed classes (SCs/Dalits) for their communities too, even before independence, as they deserved these benefits more than intermediate castes (Srinivas 1996: xv–xvii). The Dalit movement under the visionary and spirited leadership of Dr B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956) was also started before independence. He did not stop at demanding reservations but also gave a shock to the Hindu society when along with his followers he formally came out of it and embraced Buddhism. But this was in 1956 – that is, nearly nine years after India attained independence. Protest movements and demand for reservation could not have by themselves gone far enough without access to educational facilities. Modern educational facilities were largely restricted to major cities, and even primary education was hardly available to bulk of the people. One of the major tasks which heads of non-Brahmin mathas, for example the Veerashaiva or Lingayat swamis in Karnataka, undertook was to create facilities for primary and higher education not only for the people of their own communities but for others too. It was not confined to starting schools. Free hostels were also started in towns for rural children to study in schools and colleges there. The richer people of these communities donated vast amounts of money to the mathas and educational institutions of the community for this purpose.

20  M. V. Nadkarni This process had started even before independence. In the princely state of Mysore, the Wodeyar kings built a wide network of schools even in small towns and nodal villages, which greatly benefited the landowning nonBrahmins. A similar thing had happened since the 19th century in Kerala under the Varma kings of Travancore. The famous Shahu Maharaja of Kolhapur started these facilities in Western Maharashtra, enabling the Marathas and lower castes to have access to education. However, the major beneficiaries of the spread of education before independence were hitherto backward castes fairly above the level of Dalits, until Dr Ambedkar took up the task of empowering Dalits too in a major way. His work continued well after independence and his task is yet to be fully accomplished, as can be seen from the following section.

Changing character of the state in India Before we discuss Broad-Basing in India after independence, it would be pertinent to analyse the changing character of the Indian state, as change became a conspicuous feature of the state after independence. The political dimension of the Broad-Basing process is important, because it is mainly in the arena of politics that social and economic interests in the state try to secure dominance and determine the character of the state. Similarly, political interests also compete with each other to dominate not only the polity but also the economy. The state is not a homogeneous mass of one interest, but contains different classes and castes, each having its own interest. While class is a stratum in the economic stratification, caste is a stratum in the social or traditional stratification. They may coincide significantly but not fully, and they are not identical. The outcome of an unceasing struggle between vested interests for control determines the changing character of the state. The Broad-Basing process in India runs across both classes and castes. But as Pratap Bhanu Mehta pointed out, achieving equality between classes tends towards abolition of classes, but equality between castes may hardly abolish castes, because caste identities may not disappear (Mehta 2011: 19). That the inequality between classes has not declined and that classes do therefore remain is another story. In any case, both classes and castes are expected to determine the character of the state. However, in a state where caste differences are considered as more important (because caste is a major – though not the only – determinant of economic opportunities and status), it is the competition between castes which determines the character of the state more than the classes. This may reduce the role of class struggles in politics as well as the economy (because the focus is on caste rather than on class), to the advantage of the top-most classes. It also reduces the political importance of reducing inequality between incomes and classes. It may be at least one reason why the rise in inequality in income and wealth (as the case is in India, as we will see below) is tolerated widely. We may try to discern the changing character of the state in India and its implication for Broad-Basing from four angles, since seeing from only

The Broad-Basing process in India 21 one angle will not provide a complete picture. It is not necessary that if one angle shows an increasing Broad-Basing, other angles also would do the same. They may well go in different directions, and that is what makes the character of the state in India too complex a matter to draw definitive and clear conclusions. Before we go into the four angles from which we analyse changes in the character of the Indian state, we rule out religion as a pertinent angle. India is not a theocratic state. Though Hindus form a large majority, it is not a Hindu state, and there has been no change in this even when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party alleged to be contributing to the Hindutva ideology, became the ruling party. The constitution declared India as a secular state in its preamble, and it will remain so. It guarantees equality before law to all citizens irrespective of religion and prohibits discrimination by the state on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Articles 14 and 15). Article 25 clearly grants the right to freedom of religion to all. This freedom is not confined to the constitution, but is found in practice too, since Hinduism as such is not opposed to it. Though there may be some fringe elements among Hindus which are parochial, Hinduism is not so. Lord Krishna assures Arjuna in the Gita: ‘In whatever way people try to reach me, I accept and reward them; O Partha (Arjuna), people can follow the path to me from all sides’ (IV.11). This assurance is repeated again: ‘Whatever form devotees choose to worship with dedication and faith (Shraddha), I make that Shraddha steady’ (VII.21). These statements mean that different conceptions of God and paths to it are accepted. The Gita never says that Krishna is the only true God. It simply says that whichever form or conception of God you worship, it goes to the One and the same God (IX.23). Togadia or his likes cannot change this promise of the Gita or the essential character of Hinduism. This tradition is what makes secularism in the sense of equal treatment or regard for all religions, acceptable to the Hindus. This is what has made India a secular state. So our four angles for analysing the changes in the character of the State are caste, class, nature of political parties and decentralisation of polity. Caste angle is taken up first here, which is also probably the most important determinant of the character of the state. Up to the time of independence and a decade or two after, the upper castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas or Baniyas – the higher three in the four-tier Varna hierarchy) seem to have dominated the society on the whole, though there were significant challenges to their dominance and exceptions to it as pointed out in the previous section. The polity may have been dominated by Muslim rulers during the medieval age and by the British in the modern age till independence, but it is the society which dominated the distribution of power subject to the overall dominance of the political rulers (first Muslim and then the British). It is well to remember that even during the age of Muslim dominance, there were significant pockets of Hindu dominance as in Rajasthan, large portions of south India under the Vijayanagar empire, and Maharashtra under Shivaji. Similarly, there were several princely states ruled by Hindu kings though subject to dominance by the British rulers. The political rulers – whether Muslim

22  M. V. Nadkarni or British – did not bother much about transforming the caste character of the society. The more rewarding economic opportunities were cornered by the upper castes as a result. There were of course anti-Brahmin movements particularly in the south to transform the power structure of the society, but the character of the state did not change much. The situation continued for some time even after independence, but three factors started changing it: democratic adult franchise; the reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs; and land reforms. The Constitution of India provided for adult franchise irrespective of qualifications like literacy, which favoured the intermediate castes who were the most numerous, and who were considered earlier as Shudras, the lowest in the Varna hierarchy. They were mostly tenant cultivators in rural areas at the time of independence. Democracy gave them an unprecedented power, and they were wise enough to be conscious of it and use it. Rural development programmes helped them further to improve their productivity, control over resources like irrigation, and incomes. Gandhi had mobilised them during the freedom struggle which helped them to enter into politics as candidates in elections and become leaders after independence. Soon they became dominant in politics and rural economy. Since they constituted most of the OBCs, they benefited through the extension of reservation benefits to them after the Mandal Commission Report was accepted and implemented by the central government. It helped OBCs to have better access to higher education and government jobs. Thus Broad-Basing was achieved in a significant way caste-wise and changed the character of the state. The state was no longer dominated by the upper castes and gave way to the other castes. The reservation benefits had been extended even earlier to SCs and STs by the constitution, which helped Broad-Basing not only in politics but also in education and government jobs. Some constituencies were reserved for SCs and STs to ensure their election in a proportionate manner to the Parliament and state assemblies. The voice of the deprived castes was thus heard in these important democratic institutions of the state. The third factor which helped the further rise of the intermediate castes was the land reforms legislation in most of the states, under which land ownership passed into the hands of tenants from the upper caste absentee landlords. That the actual tillers of the soil – the agricultural labourers – did not benefit from these land reforms is another story. Anyway, the change in the character of the state was that the upper castes were displaced from their dominant position by the most numerous intermediate castes. It means that Broad-Basing was only partial. Coming now to the class angle, it is often the only angle in terms of which class character of the state has been analysed so far, started and popularised by Karl Marx. In a Marxist perspective, under capitalism the state is dominated and characterised by the capitalists – the owners of most of the industrial means of production. Marx also pointed out the inherent tendency under capitalism towards concentration of capital resulting in monopolies. Even in a democracy, monopoly capital tends to exercise power over political leaders and influence policy decisions and their implementation, due

The Broad-Basing process in India 23 to their capacity to fund election campaigns and money power in general. However, even under capitalism, agriculture is not under industrial capitalists. But when farmers are not organised and many, they compete with each other in selling agricultural raw material to industry and do not get favourable terms of trade. Thus the main countervailing power against monopoly capital is organised industrial labour. The concept of countervailing power was advanced by J. K. Galbraith in the context of American capitalism (Galbraith 1956). When industrial labour is effectively organised into active trade unions, the power of capitalists over the state cannot be absolute. In India also, there is a long history of trade unionism dating back to pre-independence days. Through exercising their bargaining power with the employers, trade unions can prevent or at least reduce the exploitation of labour and contribute to improving security of service and other working conditions. This checks the extreme inequality in the distribution of incomes. An inverse relationship between the proportion of unionised workers and the share of income going to the top 10% of population has been empirically proved (Gordon 2012, quoted by Roychowdhury 2018: 295–296). The influence of trade unions is not confined to concerned industry alone but becomes widespread across industries, as they spread class consciousness in the labour class on the whole, particularly when the trade unions are led by leftist political parties. Trade unions are essential in a democracy, and that is why the Constitution of India includes among fundamental rights the right ‘to form associations or unions’ under Article 19(c), which obviously include trade unions. Trade unions thrive when the organised large industries grow, but they decline when employment in the organised sectors decline. India’s economic environment, particularly after 1980s, has not been very favourable to trade unions. Calculations by Roychowdhury (ibid.: 68) show that the growth rate of employment in all organised sectors, which was 1.57% during 1980–91, fell to 0.53% during 1992–2000, and became negative at −0.31% during 2001–08. The proportion of organised sector employment in total workforce (according to Usual Principal plus Subsidiary Status – UPSS), which was already small, began to become smaller still. It fell from 7.9% in 1983 to 7.1% in 1999–2000, and further down to 5.8% in 2004–05, but recovered a little to increase to 6.2% in 2011–12 (ibid.: 65). In contrast, the proportion of contract workers to the total workforce in the organised manufacturing sector has been increasing almost steadily: it was only 12% in 1990–91, increased to 20.4% in 2000–01, further to 33.9 in 2010–11, and to 34.3 in 2012–13 (ibid.: 78). The employers prefer contract workers because along with the small scale sector with fewer than 100 workers, they would be relatively outside the ambit of strict labour legislation. And that is where the trade unions are almost non-existent, and even where labour there is organised into unions organised across individual enterprises into industry-wide unions, they are still weak. Contract labour is found even in the organised sector, where its proportion has been rising (ibid.: 114). If we take the total workforce in India including the informal or unorganised

24  M. V. Nadkarni sector, less than 3% of them were unionised in 2017. However, only about 40% of workers in the manufacturing sectors were unionised in 2008–09. That is even in the manufacturing sectors, the majority of the workers were not unionised (ibid.: 129). Trade unions are hardly a dominant or determining feature of the Indian economy. An important indication of declining bargaining power of trade unions is the falling share of wages in the gross value added. It fell sharply from 26% in 1987–88 to 9.2% in 2007–08, but recovered a little to 12.1 per cent in 2014–15 (ibid.: 86). If we exclude the highly paid executives and higher management, the falling share may be sharper still, because during the last decade or so the remuneration of these highly paid personnel has increased much more steeply than that of the middle and lower-level employees. Real wage index of industrial workers has nearly stagnated, particularly after 2000 (ibid.: 137). Another indication of the declining power of trade unions is the sharp decrease in the number of strikes by employees (from about 2,225 in 1981–82 to about a hundred in 2014–15, as read from figure 3.3 in ibid.: 125), compared to the number of lockouts by employers (from about 350 in 1981–82 to about 200 in 2014–15, as read from figure 3.3 in ibid.: 125). The share of man-days lost due to disputes in total man-days has been small and that has also declined significantly over these years (from 1.8% in 1981–82 to just about 0.2% in 2014–15, as read from figure 3.9 in ibid.: 133). The labour class is so weakened that it is not even able to ensure safe industrial working conditions. Roychowdhury observes that especially after economic liberalisation in 1991, firms have been engaged in cost-cutting, reducing safety norms. As a result, the share of fatal injuries as a percentage of total injuries in industry has sharply increased (from just about 1% in 1990 to 20% in 2014) (ibid.: 137–138). So much for the countervailing power of organised labour in India. A very unfortunate aspect of the labour class situation is that it is quite heterogeneous and has no united class consciousness of its own. Though a few leftist parties have tried to unite industrial labour and labour in small and informal sectors and lead combined struggles against exploitation, the attempt has not been very successful. Particularly lamentable is the situation of migrant labour. They are the most exploited part of the labour class, earn lower wages, have hardly satisfactory working conditions, and yet this cheap labour contributes richly to the economy of the host states. Yet the value of their contribution is hardly recognised by local politicians of host states; on the contrary, they are objects of parochial or ethnic hatred and their very safety is often threatened. This has caused an exodus of migrant labour from economically advanced states such as Gujarat. They lead precarious lives and are excluded from the process of Broad-Basing. The power of the big industrialists and big business has increased, especially after the economic reforms since 1991. They can influence economic policy and get favours in return for election funding. As will be observed in the next section, the direct result of liberalisation has been a sharp and unprecedented increase in inequality in incomes and wealth. What is ironic is that even in state-led welfare schemes for health, an increasing role for

The Broad-Basing process in India 25 private sector participation in the form of providing payments by insurance companies is envisaged since recently under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and now under the Ayushman Bharat schemes. The government itself has been deliberately yielding its role to the private sector, even in the spheres traditionally under the state sector. Clearly the influence of the private business class is ascending. However, it will still be too much to say that big business and industry are in absolute control of the state. India is too huge and diverse a democracy for that to happen. Even though the countervailing power of the organised working class has weakened, there are other countervailing powers like the civil society, independent judiciary, the free press or media, the organised lower castes, political parties and an increasing number of small industries and enterprises having a vested interest in controlling monopoly in industry – all which can tame the big business class on the whole, if not separately. We may now try to understand the changing character of the state in India from the angle of political parties. A political party not only helps in identifying candidates for elections but also helps in formulating and articulating public opinion. Since they are active in arranging meetings and public lectures and seminars, they help in imparting political education and raise political consciousness, which is essential in a democracy. In a system which allows more than party, the opposition party acts as a watchdog and can prevent the government from carrying out anti-people policies. A healthy competition between political parties ensures democracy and can promote Broad-Basing. In a one-party system of government, the party determines the character of the state and the supreme leader of the party becomes the absolute ruler of the state, as was the case in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. There is no place for another party here. Any attempt to present a different view is suppressed, often violently, as dissidence. This cannot be a democratic state. In India, however, more than one political party is allowed. Though up to the mid-1970s, the Congress Party was the dominant party and formed the government at the centre, it was not because other parties were not allowed, but they simply could not win enough seats to form a government and the Congress used to have an absolute majority. The continuous rule by one party for 30 years did not detract from the democratic character of the Indian state, because basically it was open to other parties to contest elections and win seats, although they could not secure a majority then. The situation changed after the post-emergency election in 1977, when a non-Congress Party – the Janata Party – could form the government. Thereafter, there has been a multi-party situation till now, and often we had situations when no one party could obtain absolute majority and coalition governments had to be formed. This was the case both at the centre and states. The existence of several parties in the polity is a reflection of the diversity and complexity of India both in terms of regions and culture, and safeguards the democratic tradition in India. The transition from one-party dominance to a system of several parties has contributed to the promotion of Broad-Basing in India, though at times it often hampers

26  M. V. Nadkarni quick decision-making. The political parties may receive donations from the big business, but they are not subservient to it since the sources of funds of almost all the political parties are diversified. Moreover, no political party can hope to win an election with an image of being subservient to big business. A notable change in party politics in India is the rise of lower-castebased political parties since the 1990s. Nevertheless, we cannot exaggerate the role of caste even in elections. As Shah observes: It is simplistic to say that caste is redundant in electoral politics. It is equally naïve to say that caste determines politics. . . . Party managers and demagogues do talk in caste idioms, invoke caste sentiments. . . . Notwithstanding all these efforts, the study shows that caste sentiments have a very limited say in voting behavior. . . . Caste or jati of a candidate . . . is one of the factors and not the determining factor in voting behavior. . . . The rhetoric of development, though not completely unreal, clicked well in the public mind. (Shah 2010: 61) Almost all the political parties talk in terms of both social justice and economic development. Though social justice is seen mostly in terms justice across castes, justice across states and regions within states is not missed in the bargain. And that is where regional economic development comes in. The last angle from which we see the changing character of the state in India is decentralisation of democracy. A completely centralised system of even a democracy does not bridge the difference between people and the government, particularly in a vast country like India. Even the division in terms of states does not go far, because most of the states are fairly big and are of the size of European countries or even larger. It is when democracy is established at the grassroots level that people really start participating in governing themselves or self-rule. Gandhi laid a great stress on self-rule in this decentralised sense (Nadkarni et al. 2018: 65–94). Local bodies at the village level existed and continued since the Vedic times in India – in a checkered manner if not continuously, in many villages if not all, and mostly informal. They were revived through legislations passed in state assemblies after independence, but it was only in 1992 that they got a constitutional recognition in the form of the 73rd Amendment for rural areas and the 74th Amendment for urban bodies. As a result, the local governments became an integral part of the Constitution of India. There are three tiers of governance now: the union government at the national level, the state governments and the local governments. At the local level also, there are three tiers for rural governance: the Zilla Parishads at the district level, Mandal or Taluka panchayats, and village panchayats. The two constitutional amendments both deepened and Broad-Based India’s democracy. This has decentralised even economic – particularly rural – development, and planning exercises are undertaken at the district level taking into account local needs and natural resources. The states have devolved some powers in respect of functions, funds and functionaries,

The Broad-Basing process in India 27 though it may not have been to the desired extent. But this devolution of powers gave a sense of genuine participation to local people, gave a boost to training in local governance and promoted local leadership from the grassroots level. What made the local governments more Broad-Based than what they would have been is the constitutional requirement of reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the same proportion as their population in respective areas and also for women up to 50%. Seats are similarly reserved for the position of the presidents of the local bodies by rotation. Women’s entry has been a revolutionary change in rural politics, which was an exclusively male preserve earlier. There may still be a lot of deficiencies (see Nadkarni et al. 2018: 175–253), but there can be no doubt that democratic decentralisation has contributed to the Broad-Basing of the polity in India.

Broad-Basing after independence Within three years of gaining independence in August 1947, India adopted a constitution in the drafting of which Dr Ambedkar played a major role. In turn, the constitution has played a major role in the Broad-Basing of India’s polity and society, countering the opposite process of marginalisation. Thanks to the wisdom of our leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Ambedkar and Pandit Nehru, India chose the path of democracy based on adult franchise. This facilitated the Broad-Basing process like no other and imparted political consciousness to the masses. Leaders had to go to the masses for votes, and leaders themselves emerged from the masses. Welfare programmes had to be launched for the masses, maybe for votes, but they had to benefit the masses if they had to earn votes. The democratic system brought about a great intermixture of castes. Srinivas has described the impact of this development thus: Not only do high caste candidates, seeking election to a legislative body, have to approach members of the scheduled castes for votes, but many members of the high castes have to approach Scheduled Caste Ministers for a variety of favours. And it is well to remember that these events are happening for the first time in the history of India. (Srinivas 1992: 23) Initially, the preamble in the constitution had declared India to be a ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’. During Indira Gandhi’s regime, through the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act 1976, India became a ‘Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic’. The amendment only made explicit what was already implicit in the constitution, particularly expressed in the viewpoints of Dr Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The preamble further declared that the Indian Republic resolves to secure for all its citizens: JUSTICE – Social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship;

28  M. V. Nadkarni EQUALITY of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. Following this, the constitution recognised certain fundamental rights, including especially the right to equality; the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth; and the right to equality of opportunity. The constitution thus became a big boost to the process of Broad-Basing, and victims of infringement of this right to equality and non-discrimination could even go to a court of law for redressal. Though untouchability, which had prevailed in the country for centuries, was inconsistent with this provision, the constitution did not take any chances. It abolished untouchability explicitly under Article 17 and its practice became punishable according to law. But even this was not enough, and provisions were made in the constitution itself under Part XVI for reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes not only in the House of People (Lok Sabha), the state legislatures and Panchayat institutions, but also in jobs at least in the public sector and in state-aided educational institutions. The total extent of reservations for the marginalised categories (SCs, STs and OBCs) is now 49.5%.8 Perhaps no other country in the world has reserved jobs or seats to this extent. However, the private sector of the economy, which is larger than the public sector, and educational institutions not receiving grants in aid from the government are outside the purview of reservations. Even then, the implementation of the reservation provision in government jobs and education – even if inadequate – was probably the single most important factor in drawing lakhs of marginalised Dalits into the mainstream of the society, economy and polity after India’s independence. Reservations would not have by themselves made an impact in the absence of the spread of education and economic development. Based on the Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) – 2014, Iversen et al. have observed: Primary schools have been set up by the government in even the most remote places. . . . Today, nearly 100% of villages have a primary school, and nearly 80% have a middle school, within a distance of two kilometres. Enrolment at schools has consequently increased vastly. More than 95% of all children between the ages of 6 and 14 years are now enrolled at schools, and the difference between boys and girls’ attendance has diminished. (Iversen et al. 2017: 108) They point out further to some equalisation of educational achievement across caste groups, but only at the primary level, with continuing inequality at the college level. We have more to achieve, but what has been achieved is not insignificant considering the past. The role of economic development is expected to be as important as the constitutional provisions regarding justiciable rights and reservations in promoting Broad-Basing. This is so for the simple reason that in the absence of

The Broad-Basing process in India 29 economic development including growth of GNP, democracy alone could not achieve Broad-Basing. With stagnant GNP or wealth, a person or community can advance only at the expense of others. This situation is full of conflict. Inequity should be easier to resolve when the size of the national cake keeps growing. The national cake increases in size with technological advance which raises productivity, freeing human beings from drudgery and work of low status and income. However, it can also reduce work opportunities in traditional lines, and the rate of growth of employment should be significant to offset unemployment created initially by replacement of obsolete technology. Urbanisation, normally accompanying economic development, can free Dalits from feudal oppression of the rural society and can give new opportunities for advancement, provided urbanisation is not of the kind where the weak are simply pushed out of the villages into urban slums. Improvement in infrastructure, public health, and employment and education opportunities have the potential to draw the marginalised into the mainstream. Such an economic development can also break down social or caste barriers. The emphasis on the expansion of the public sector also helped, particularly during the Nehru era. Sadly, the enthusiasm for expanding the public sector did not cover even in this era an agenda of providing free, universal and compulsory education up to the secondary level, or of bringing health care under the public sector making it free, or at least, affordable for all. Both for this reason and others, expectations from economic development to include the marginalised people significantly have not been satisfactorily realised. The rate of growth of GNP itself was modest in India even after independence for over four decades – within about 3.5% per annum – till the early 1990s when the economic reforms were launched. Though not high, this rate of growth was above the rate of population growth, which made it possible to raise the rate of growth of real per capita income to about 1.5% per annum even before the 1990s. Food grains production grew enough to have overall self-sufficiency, and there was no need for anyone to face hunger. But this did not mean that hunger ended, because it is not enough to raise production and income; we have also to make their benefits equitably distributed. We had the paradox and irony of having hunger along with huge stocks of food grains in government warehouses. The problem was to put enough purchasing power or ‘entitlements’ (à la Amartya Sen 1981) into the hands of the poor. The economic reforms of the 1990s boosted the rate of growth of GNP to above 6.5% per annum (during 1990–91 to 2016–17) on the whole, nearly doubling it over the pre-reform average. Since the rate of growth of population had also slowed down to well below 2% per annum, the rate of growth in per capita real income also increased above 4.5% per annum between 1991 and 2016 – a step-up by nearly three times compared with the earlier rate. The size of the national cake has thus been increasing fairly well enough. Since, however, this proportionate rise is from the earlier low levels, we are still far behind in absolute terms not only compared with the Western advanced countries in this respect but also with China. We need to have still higher rates of growth and in a sustained way, particularly to substantially reduce the magnitude of poverty. An interesting paper by

30  M. V. Nadkarni Thorat and Dubey (2012), which has decomposed the changes in the rate of poverty into growth effect and distribution effect, has shown that both during 1993–94 to 2004–05 and 2004–05 to 2009–10, the growth effect on poverty reduction has been significantly large enough to more than offset the increase in poverty due to distribution effect. This is so both in urban and rural areas and for all social groups (Thorat and Dubey 2012: table 7 on p. 49). All social groups have shared the significant reduction in poverty, though sadly the reduction has not been substantial enough to eradicate poverty altogether. There is no doubt that growth of national income in India has helped in reducing poverty. This would indicate that the BroadBasing process has dominated the marginalisation process, at least in poverty reduction. But the crucial point is whether whatever growth we have achieved has enabled us to bring down disparities in income and levels of living. Since the rise in growth rate was stimulated by pro-business liberalisation of the economy with a fast-expanding private sector, it did not reduce inequality; on the contrary, it only increased it at unprecedented levels. A paper by Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty (2017) shows that in India the top 1% of earners had captured about 21% of the national income in the late 1930s. Their share fell to 13% in the mid-1950s, and further down to 5 or 6% in the early 1980s. The declining trend in their share reversed in the mid-1980s due to the pro-business economic reforms which had then been initiated. As a result, the share of the top 1% increased to 10% in 2000, and sharply to 22% in 2015. The authors show that this U-shaped pattern was seen in the consumer-expenditure surveys of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) also. The share of the top quintile in total expenditure decreased first from the 1950s to the 1970s and increased thereafter (ibid.: 1–2). This means that the greater share of the growth in national income is being captured by the rich, leaving much less to those at the bottom. The paper shows that of the total increase in the national income of India between 1980 and 2014, only 11% of went to the bottom 50%, 23% to the middle 40%, and as much as 66% to the top 10% of the people. Of this 66%, 29% was captured by the top 1% alone. However, the Indian case is more equitable than that of the United States. There, the bottom 50% got only 1% of the growth, while the top 1% of people captured 34% of the growth in national income during the same period (ibid.: figure 12, p. 25). Interestingly, however, each percentile of earners has enjoyed some absolute increase in national income, though unequally. The table on average annual growth in per adult pre-tax income in different income groups (percentiles) given by Chancel and Piketty (in Appendix 10, p. 45) is interesting for our purpose, and is reproduced in Table 1.1. The table shows that the incomes of even the bottom 50% of the people in India increased by 1.94% per annum per adult during the post-reform period, a rate of growth which is higher than what was achieved for the whole population before the reforms. No doubt, inequality increased but the bottom half of the population did gain in absolute terms. On the contrary,

The Broad-Basing process in India 31 Table 1.1 Average annual growth (%) in per adult pre-tax real income by percentiles, 1980–2014 Income group





Total population Bottom 50% Middle 40% Top 10% Incl. top 1% Incl. top 0.1% Incl. top 0.01% Incl. top 0.001%

3.25 1.94 2.02 4.96 6.70 7.92 9.39 10.66

6.33 4.38 6.14 7.75 8.83 9.38 9.98 10.44

0.92 0.69 0.85 1.17 1.93 2.95 3.61 3.97

1.48 0.12 1.13 2.41 3.36 4.34 5.22 6.17

Source: Chancel and Piketty 2017: 45

during the pre-reform phase, though inequality decreased, the absolute gain was hardly significant particularly for the bottom half. The picture of inequality presented by Chancel and Piketty is in terms of pre-tax incomes. Hopefully, the extent of inequality would be lower in terms of post-tax incomes. In any case, there appears to be a trade-off between achieving equality and higher growth, at least in the Indian context of capitalist development. It is pretty hard to contain rising inequality in a situation where the focus is mainly on economic growth in terms of fast-rising GNP, taking care of human development only incidentally. It looks as if denying growth for the rich may be at the cost of overall growth itself, reducing absolute gains for the bottom half of the people. If Broad-Basing is interpreted strictly as involving equitable distribution of pre-tax income with the lower income groups enjoying higher growths in income than the higher income groups, there would perhaps be very few countries to qualify for this distinction. It is also likely that such countries may not register high overall growth in incomes, and absolute gains in income for the lower income groups may not accrue. One wonders which state of affairs the lower income groups prefer: greater equality in income with little absolute gains, or more absolute gains in income even if unequally shared. That is why many countries including especially countries under the influence of the ideology of social democracy have adopted the policy of leaving growth to be decided by the market forces with relaxed regulation, but taking care of equality through progressive tax policy and equitable human development, removal of absolute poverty and deprivation, and ensuring equitable access to education and health. Such a policy when sincerely pursued can achieve Broad-Basing, reconciling equity with growth. The impact of economic development is not to be judged only in terms of growth of national income and its distribution, for it is much wider. The accompanying processes of like urbanisation, development of roads and transport, and spread of education produce systemic socio-economic changes which cannot fail to affect the caste system and inter-caste relations. At no time in the past history of India have these changes been operating

32  M. V. Nadkarni so forcefully and on such a wide scale. This has been a major cause of turbulence in the Indian society, because these changes which are largely progressive and inclusive have met with resistance from castes that traditionally enjoyed a monopoly of wealth and power. But the modern forces of change are bound to weaken this resistance, with the result that even if separate castes continue as mere jatis or communities, ritual superiority would no longer prevail. In fact, ritual hierarchy and ideas of caste pollution have almost vanished in urban areas, and are on the way out in villages too,9 thanks to common schools and decentralisation of democracy under the Panchayati-raj. This is not to claim that caste identities, exploitation of Dalit labourers by upper-caste farmers, and even discrimination against Dalits in employment have vanished. Let us note the changes that are altering caste relations towards BroadBasing, if not ending the caste system as such. An important socio-political development after India’s independence has been the entry of intermediate castes into the mainstream of the country’s political power structure. The intermediate castes which were powerful in rural areas gained from the land reforms more than the actual tillers of the soil. The ownership of land changed from the hands of the urban-based upper castes to those of the rural-based intermediate castes under India’s land reforms. But they too were cultivating lands with sub-tenants or tenants-at-will who had no records to prove their rights on the land they tilled. These people, who mostly belonged to lower castes including SCs and STs, lost whatever hold they had on lands and became part of agricultural labour, though some of them may have continued as tenants at will or casual tenants without rights. Thus while the land reforms enabled the inclusion of the intermediate castes in the power structure, they dispossessed the lower classes. It was BroadBasing at the middle rung but marginalisation at the lower rung of the social order. The intermediate castes which were numerically preponderant and also had a hold on most of the land, have been called the Dominant Castes by M. N. Srinivas (1959). The entry of these middle-order peasant castes into the mainstream of Indian politics certainly contributed to the BroadBasing process in India but also sharpened the contradiction between them and Dalits who were mostly agricultural labourers (Nadkarni 1987: chapters 1 and 5). The intermediate castes, mostly OBCs, bitterly resisted the rise of Dalits into the mainstream of India’s economy, polity and society. This is the main reason for atrocities still taking place in India on Dalits, though their incidence is sporadic.10 Though the atrocities on Dalits get headlines in newspapers and seem to indicate that the caste system is still alive and well, there are other indications of its breakdown. One of them is the breakdown of the Jajmani system, which had given an economic structure and base to the caste system. A growing dissociation of castes from their hereditary occupations is at the heart of this process. Under the Jajmani system, as Karanth explains, ‘members of certain castes rendered their services or supplied goods to the village community, particularly the landowning dominant castes, in return

The Broad-Basing process in India 33 for an annual wage paid in kind (which was a part of a wider patron-client relationship’. Karanth mentions one more institution: the caste panchayats which had a quasi-judicial status and upheld the caste system and its tieup with hereditary occupations and prevented inter-caste marriages. Caste panchayats were deprived of their power and became illegal after the Constitution of India was adopted (Karanth 1996: 89–90). The dissociation of caste from hereditary occupations was accelerated by other forces too, like industrialisation, urbanisation, development of roads and transport and the spread of education. However, this dissociation of castes with traditional occupations is yet to be complete, particularly in the lowest castes among Scheduled Castes. Even now, most of the municipal workers in urban areas engaged in scavenging come from the lowest of the Scheduled Castes. The Scheduled Castes also had a hierarchy of their own which is yet to vanish in spite of the Ambedkar movement. There is a regional dimension also to the Broad-Basing process. Unfortunately, high growth in India is in general associated with worsening interstate disparities in per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of states, as Radhakrishna (2016: 11) has shown. As a result, regional inequality has widened during the post-reform period. He observes that the poorer states gained less from economic reforms and continued to remain poor. The states with highest levels of poverty in the early part of the post-reform period (1993–94) witnessed the slowest incidence of poverty (Radhakrishna 2017: 10). ‘The state level experiences demonstrate lack of inclusiveness in the growth process’ (Radhakrishna 2016: 12). To soften the impact of increase in inequality and as a part of the poverty alleviation measures, a number of both legislative and non-legislative or budgetary measures have been introduced in India particularly at the national level since the start of the current millennium. Under democratic pressures, the role of the state as a welfare state has become more prominent along with the acceleration of economic growth. The additional resources released by higher economic growth have encouraged the Indian state to intensify welfare measures irrespective of which political party has formed the government. These measures have further promoted the Broad-Basing process and strengthened democracy. Among the important legislative measures may be mentioned: the Right to Information Act 2005; the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005; the Right to Education Act 2009; and the National Food Security Act 2013. Among the non-legislative or budgetary welfare measures may be mentioned the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, supposed to be the world’s largest health-insurance plan, mooted in the 2018–19 budget of the Government of India. Some of these welfare measures are discussed further in the last chapter of this book, but they have yet to produce a significant impact. India ranked as low as 130 among 189 countries in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index in 2018. But the index has steadily improved from the value of 0.427 in 1980, 0.483 in 2000, 0.581 in 2010, and to 0.640 in 2017. Even in the primary aspect of removal and malnourishment, India is still

34  M. V. Nadkarni lagging behind. This is in spite of the supposed food self-sufficiency in the country. Obviously, Broad-Basing has to take big strides forward in India, and fast!

Notes 1 This chapter is a considerably enlarged and updated version of the original paper, ‘The Broad-Basing Process in India and Dalits’ by the author, published in the Economic & Political Weekly, 32 (33–34), 16 August 1997, pp. 2160–2171. The latter part of this original paper on statistical analysis of post-independence trends in the situation of Dalits has been shifted to the next chapter after significant revision and updating. An entire new section on the changing character of the state has been added now in this chapter at the suggestion of the publisher’s reviewer. The original essay had benefited from discussions with Professors G. K. Karanth and Manohar Yadav.] 2 For an insightful review of the growth, spread, pitfalls and success of Dalit movements in India, see Pai (2013). 3 For a documentation of these struggles, see Rao 1978; Oommen 1990; Omvedt 1994; Zelliot 1996. 4 Quoted in Ranade (1961: 8), as reproduced in Zelliot (1996: 22). 5 For a detailed account of the social and religious significance of the Bhakti movement in different parts of India, see Nadkarni (2013: 203–250). 6 V.K.R.V. Rao, called Swami Vivekananda as the Prophet of Vedantic Socialism for his emphasis on equality and the right of all oppressed people to human dignity (Rao 1979). 7 For a detailed account of the rise of Nadars, see Rudolph and Rudolph (1967) and Hardgrave (1969). 8 There is a provision for reservation in jobs in the public sector and admissions to state-aided higher education institutions to the extent of 15% for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs. By a Supreme Court directive, there is an upper limit to the total extent of reservations at 50% so that there is adequate scope for open merit and free competition. There is also relaxation of the upper age limit (compared to the general limit) to the extent of five years in the case of SC and ST candidates, and three years in the case of OBCs. Even when enough numbers of candidates with the prescribed qualifications are not available for a certain post, the post has to be advertised again and the vacancy cannot be de-reserved. As a result, backlog vacancies are caused. The ceiling of 50% is not applicable to backlog vacancies. Moreover, though basic qualifications cannot be relaxed, the preferred qualifications can be relaxed/reduced in the case of SCs and STs if enough number of the right candidates are not available. The ‘creamy layer’ among OBCs are not eligible for reservation – the candidates whose parents’ income exceeds a certain limit specified from to time for three consecutive years (Rs. 4.5 lakhs of annual income specified in 2008). 9 On the basis of his study of a Tamil Village Alangkulam, Deliege finds that ‘ritual pollution has lost much of its importance in inter-caste relations. The pallars suffer much from their lack of education, capital and family connections in their attempt to improve their condition, but less from the traditional stigmas attached to them. Typically, people would refer to material conditions to illustrate the plight of the Harijans but nobody even mentioned pollution or ritual exclusion to me’ (Deliege 1996: 90) 10 In the next chapter, we probe into the incidence of atrocities on Dalits in a comparative perspective.

2 The Broad-Basing process and Dalits1 M. V. Nadkarni

The rise of Dalits in India’s power structure The word ‘Dalit’ should normally refer to all oppressed classes including not only Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), but also the really backward among ‘Other Backward Castes’ (OBCs). In fact, the Dalit Panthers in their 1972 Manifesto defined Dalits even more broadly in class terms to include not only SCs and STs, but also ‘the working people, landless and poor peasants, women and all those exploited politically and economically, and in the name of religion’ (Pai 2013b: xxxii–xxxiii). But there is also a general agreement about the SCs and STs forming the hard core of Dalits, who face more oppression and social indignities than the OBCs. The position of OBCs was considered to be above that of SCs and STs in terms of traditional caste hierarchy, and the term Dalit does not normally include OBCs. Since Dalit movements were mostly led by SCs, Dalits are taken as referring to SCs only in most of the usage of the term. The Constitution of India refers only to SCs and STs but not to Dalits. The term has come into usage more recently as a result of Dalit movements. Our main concern in this essay is both with SCs and STs. The proportion of SCs and STs in India’s population in 2011 was 16.6% and 8.6%, respectively. The proportion of OBCs is a debated issue and was estimated to be 41% by NSSO in 2007. While the SCs and OBCs are spread all over India, though mostly in rural areas (except where STs dominate), the STs are concentrated in a few regions, particularly in forests and hilly areas. The main problem for these social groups, particularly the SCs and STs, is that their share in the economy and positions of power is much lower than their share in population. The challenge is to bring them into the mainstream on equitable terms and end discrimination against them. Though there were quite a few attempts to accord a respectable treatment to Dalits before, the role of the Ambedkar movement (Zelliot 1996) in drawing Dalits into the mainstream of the society and even into the power structure has been significant. This task is still in progress and by no means complete. In spite of all shortfalls, it would be unrealistic to say that Dalits have stayed today where they were in the 1940s and the 1950s. They have

36  M. V. Nadkarni overcome their earlier docility and have immensely gained in self-respect and political strength. The one person who gets – and should get – the most credit for this is Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar (1891–1956). He succeeded where the earlier Bhakti saints failed. Apart from the fact that he was born among the very people whose lot he sought to change, he also analysed the causes behind the oppression of Dalits and worked out a holistic strategy. He was not content to be a mere academic but also became an aggressive political and social activist to achieve his objectives. His strategy rested on three pillars for Dalits: education, organisation and struggle for rights. He mobilised them and raised their level of consciousness and self-respect, tried to provide them educational facilities including college education, demanded their due in government jobs through reservations, and at a cultural level shook the complacence of the Hindu society by changing his religion along with thousands of his followers. Ambedkar undertook his task of uprooting the caste system in an entirely non-violent, peaceful and constitutional way. He did not want India to be destroyed and fragmented, and his struggle for social justice for all was a part of his greater effort of contributing to laying down the foundation of a democratic India. He wanted Dalits to prosper as a part of the mainstream in India and not in isolation. His influence on Dalits did not die with him. On the contrary, there has been a new resurgence of his ideology inspiring the Dalit movement all over the country. As Gopal Guru observes, Dalits argued that the reduction of human beings and treating them as wretched animals on the basis of their occupation or birth is absolutely unfair (Guru 2009: 221). This moral appeal had a tremendous force and won over many enlightened from the upper castes also to support the Dalit cause. It should be noted, however, that Dr Ambedkar and his movement succeeded where the earlier Bhakti saints failed also because during this time a robust democracy has been functioning in the context of a faster economic development at a rate higher than at any time in the past. These three forces – democracy including other forces of modern values, economic development and Dalit movement – complemented each other in favouring Broad-Basing in India as never before. Perhaps the most conspicuous Dalit political leader after Dr Ambedkar is Kumari Mayavati-ji (born in 1956). She was the chosen protégé of Kanshi Ram who founded the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1984. He wanted BSP to represent not only SCs and STs but also OBCs and religious minorities, particularly the Muslims, who together constituted 85% of India’s population. His hope was that, if united, these castes could take over political power and establish majority rule at least in ethnic terms and prevent discrimination against them. That is how he named his party as that of Bahujan (majority of people), asking Mayavati to lead the party. She could see, however, that the OBCs had their own political ambitions and their own party dominated by Yadavs (OBC). She declared, therefore, that her party was not against Forward Castes, but stood for the welfare of all people and justice. Though the party has its main base in Uttar Pradesh (UP), it became

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 37 an all-India national party, and has a presence in the state assemblies of not only UP but also in several others states spread over the country. In the Lok Sabha National Election in 2014, BSP emerged as the third largest national party in terms of vote share, though it did not get any seat. Mayavati served as the chief minister of UP four times, three times with the support of other parties; but in 2007, BSP achieved absolute majority and Mayavati ruled UP as chief minister for a full term of five years. There were expectations then that she would make a mark on national politics too, having the potential for prime ministership. She proved that a Dalit political leader could get political power on her own. Though her party is in a minority now, she is certainly not a spent force and has a potential to rise. Many prominent Dalits have played a leading role in India since independence on a scale as never before. They are now not only in the mainstream of politics but also in professions, literature and business. There have been two Dalit presidents of India so far, including the present one, Shri Ram Nath Kovind who took charge in 2017, and the previous one being Shri K. R. Narayanan (1997–2002) – both being very eminent leaders in their own right. There has, however, been only one Dalit chief justice of India – Justice K. G. Balakrishnan (2007–2010). There are now many Dalit entrepreneurs too, there being a Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, based in Pune, started in 2005 by Milind Kamble, an engineer and an entrepreneur himself. There has been a Dalit chairman of the University Grants Commission (during 2006–2011), Dr S. K. Thorat, an eminent economist who also subsequently became the chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (2011–2017). Though there are thus many shining examples of Dalits who achieved success despite many odds, the Dalit march into the mainstream of India is not yet complete, as the following section would show. Nevertheless, a quiet non-violent revolution is taking place at the local levels, particularly in the countryside, which has enabled SCs and STs to have a share in the power structure in the local government institutions. The 73rd Amendment to the Constitution of India passed in 1992 provided for not only decentralisation of democracy and people’s participation, but also mandated reservation of seats for SCs and STs according their share in population. Though initially, the reservation for women was only one-third, it was raised later to 50%. This has been effectively ensured. As a result, as of 1 March 2013, the proportion (%) of elected SC, ST and women representatives in Panchayats at the all-India level was 19.4, 11.7 and 46.7, respectively (Nadkarni et al. 2018: Table 7.1 on p. 225). They get elected as presidents of Panchayats also by turns. Though there are hurdles to be overcome still, it is no mean achievement for political Broad-Basing that from a position of near zero, SCs and women have risen to a position of reckoning (ibid.: 222–226). In the social sphere, the progress has been slower but not insignificant. The Broad-Basing liberalisation process which had started in the Hindu

38  M. V. Nadkarni society even before independence thanks to such peers as Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Shree Narayan Guru continued after independence too. An important breakthrough in reform which took place after independence was through opening the priesthood in Hindu temples to Dalits and women. Narayan Guru not only spearheaded the movement of opening Hindu temples to Dalit devotees but also took steps to train Dalits (Ezhavas in Kerala) in the rituals and scriptures required for qualifying as priests. Today, there are at least 500 priests from the Ezhava community in the Hindu temples of Kerala. Recently the Devaswom Board of Kerala appointed 60 Dalits as priests, all trained and properly qualified for the post.2 Similarly, Mata Amritanandamayi has since long taken up the task of training women irrespective of caste as priests for Hindu temples, and a number of women are working as priests as a result. Dalit priests in Kerala believe that ‘you are a Brahmin by Karma (work/occupation) and not by birth’. Kerala has given a lead which other states in India can follow.

Statistical evidence The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes formed 16.6 and 8.6%, respectively, of the total population in India as per the 2011 Census. Fifty years earlier, that is in 1961, these proportions were 14.7 and 6.8, respectively. This increase in their share, however, is partly due to the inclusion of some communities in these categories in between, which were hitherto regarded as Other Backward Classes. The shares of SCs and STs have some significance in that they serve as points of comparison with figures on their share in employment and such other parameters. In terms of bare literacy, both SCs and STs have gained significantly by 2011, compared to the very low levels in 1961, but they are still behind the remaining population – ‘others’ (see Table 2.1 here). The STs are behind the SCs, but are catching up. Even the ‘others’ are yet to achieve total literacy, having attained a level of 76.1% in 2011, compared with 66.1% among SCs and 58.7% among STs. Children up to 6 years of age are excluded when calculating literacy rates. The Indian population is still by and large rural, the urban population being only 31.1% in 2011. It was only 18% in 1961 (see Table 2.1). The ‘others’ are more urbanised compared with the SCs, with the former having 35.3% of urban population and the latter 23.6%. The STs are least urbanised, with only 10% of them being in towns and cities even in 2011. When a community is located mainly in rural areas, it is relevant to find what they do there. This can be seen from Table 2.2. The proportion of agricultural workers (cultivators and agricultural labourers together) among total workers has been declining in India, which is expected in a growing and diversifying economy. This proportion has dropped from 69.5% in 1961 to only 50.2% in 2011 in 50 years – not a drastic reduction compared with much faster declining share of agriculture in national income (from

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 39 Table 2.1 Literacy rates and urbanisation among SCs, STs and Others Year





Literacy rates (%) 1961 7.5 1991 37.4 2011 66.1

5.1 29.6 58.7

28.8 57.7 76.1

24.0 52.2 73.0

Urban population (%) 1961 10.7 1991 18.7 2011 23.6

2.6 7.4 10.0

20.7 29.2 35.3

18.0 25.7 31.1

Note: While calculating literacy rates, population of up to 6 years is excluded. Source: Census of India Reports

over 50% to a mere 11% during the period). Communities mainly dependent on agriculture for livelihood have suffered a relative decline in incomes compared with those which depend on non-agricultural occupations. From this point of view, the SCs are left behind the ‘others’, and the STs are still far behind even the SCs (see Table 2.3 under non-agricultural workers). While 54.5% of the ‘others’ are non-agricultural workers, 43.4 of SCs and only 22.3% of STs are under this category. But it is heartening that the latter two are catching up with the ‘others’, having moved significantly from their position as in 1961. Among agricultural workers, cultivators generally have a better stature than agricultural labourers with little or no land. If a person is mainly an agricultural labourer in his view, even if having a little bit of cultivated land, then he is included in the census among agricultural labourers. Compared to SCs, STs are more in cultivation than in agricultural labour. As in 2011, 41.1% of ST workers were cultivators, while only 16.4% of SC workers were cultivators. Correspondingly, as many as 40.2% of SC workers were agricultural labourers, while 36.6% of ST workers were in that category. Among the ‘others’, only 18.7% were agricultural labourers. Most of the rural poor come from the class of agricultural labourers, and they have much less status in rural society than others. In this respect, the SCs based in rural areas seemed to have fared worse than the STs in rural areas. The SCs have also much less share in land than the STs and ‘others’, especially relative to their share in population. This can be seen from Table 2.4. The ratio of the share in agricultural land over the share in population was as low as 0.52 for SCs in 2011, though this ratio has been improving since 1981. This ratio, already high at 1.31 in 1981 for STs, further improved to 1.35 in 1991 but declined to 1.33 in 2011. The ratio has slightly declined for the ‘others’ from 1.08 to 1.07 between 1981 and 2011, suggesting that their share in land is approximating to their share in population. Though it may seem that STs are better off than SCs in respect of land ownership, the extent of poverty is much higher among the former

40  M. V. Nadkarni Table 2.2 Workforce pattern: proportion (%) in total main workers Year





1. Cultivators 1961 1991 2011

37.8 23.6 16.4

69.6 54.5 41.1

54.1 40.5 26.8

52.8 38.7 26.5

2. Agricultural labourers 1961 34.5 1991 45.4 2011 40.2

20.1 32.7 36.6

12.5 20.1 18.7

16.5 26.3 23.8

3. Agricultural workers [(1) + (2)] 1961 72.3 1991 69.0 2011 56.6

89.7 87.2 77.7

66.6 60.6 45.5

69.5 64.8 50.2

4. Non-agricultural workers 1961 27.7 1991 31.0 2011 43.4

10.3 12.8 22.3

33.4 39.4 54.5

30.5 35.2 49.8

Note: While the percentages are with respect to total workers for 1961, they are with respect to total main workers (excluding secondary workers) for other years. Source: Calculated from respective Census of India reports

Table 2.3 Share (%) in agricultural area held as against share in population Year





Share (%) in area of agricultural holdings 1981 7.00 10.20 1991 7.90 10.80 2011 8.60 11.49

82.80 81.30 79.0

100.00 100.00 100.00

Ratio of share in land to share in population 1981 0.45 1.31 1991 0.48 1.35 2011 0.52 1.33

1.08 1.07 1.07

1.00 1.00 1.00

Source: Based on All India Report on Agricultural Census 2010–11, 2015, New Delhi: Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India

(43% in STs, as against 29.4% in SCs in 2011–12). This is because the size of land held may not be viable enough to lift them above poverty, and they have to still depend on casual agricultural labour. This is true both with respect to STs and SCs, and particularly so among the STs. Education is more widespread among SCs than among STs, and the occupational pattern of the SCs is also more diversified. As Table 2.3 shows, the proportion of nonagricultural workers among SCs has always been higher than among STs.

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 41 Elimination of poverty is an important and basic component of Broad-Basing. In 1993–94, when the economic reforms had been initiated some two years earlier, the poverty level among the total population was still as high as 45.7% as per the Tendulkar methodology, but it declined to 22% by 2011–12. The higher rate of economic growth combined with anti-poverty measures seem to have succeeded in drastically reducing poverty, but it may take more than a decade to completely eliminate it. In terms of percentage points, there has been a greater reduction in poverty levels in the post-reform period among SCs (by 31.1 points from 60.5% in 1993–94 to 29.4 points in 2011–12) than among STs (by 20.7 points from 63.7 in 1993–94 to only 43% in 2011–12) (see Table 2.4). A problem with STs is that they are mostly in rural – that too in forest – areas, and they have much less accessibility to anti-poverty programmes than the SCs. In any case, there was still a significant proportion of the poor even in 2011–12 among SCs (29.4%) and STs (43%), and even among OBCs (20.7%), which is much more than in the total population (22%). Interestingly, there is still noticeable poverty among the Forward Castes (Others minus OBCs), though it is 12.5% (one out of eight) which is less than in the case of the other social groups. Even while people rise above the poverty-line, some people face the risk of slipping down below it. Iversen et al. point out: Between 3.5% and 6.6% of households in rural areas, according to various calculations, and between 2.5% and 5% of households in urban areas, averaging to five per cent of the population as a whole, fall below the poverty line each year on account of ill health and medical expenses. (Iversen et al. 2017: 108) Pushing medical care to the highly expensive private sector is not consistent with India claiming to be a socialist democratic republic or its being a welfare state. Table 2.4 Proportion (%) of people below poverty line by social groups Year






Based on Lakdawala methodology 1983 58.5 64.4 1993–94 48.9 51.2 2004–05 38.0 46.3

– – 27.1

(40.8) (30.8) 17.0* (22.8)

45.7 36.0 27.7

Based on Tendulkar methodology 1993–94 60.5 63.7 2004–05 50.9 60.0 2011–12 29.4 43.0

– 37.8 20.7

(39.5) 23.0* 12.5*

45.7 37.7 22.0

Note:* Upper castes excluding OBCs; figures in brackets are estimates of others including OBCs. Source: Panagariya and Mukin (2014), Panagariya and More (2013)

42  M. V. Nadkarni However, Broad-Basing is not just elimination of poverty, and should include equitable access to all occupations including the more paying and socially prestigious ones. What is the position of SCs and STs vis-à-vis others if we take all the occupations together? Do you find them equitable, that is, relative to their share in population, in better paid and more prestigious occupations? Even where they have been employed, are there inequitable wage differentials between SCs and STs on the one hand and remaining communities (‘others’) on the other? Are these differentials fair in the sense they are mostly explained by differences in qualifications? In her brilliant doctoral thesis, Smruti Singhari (2017) has taken up these issues based on the data provided by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). Some of her findings which are relevant to us are briefly presented here. The NSSO divides occupation into nine categories at one digit level (NCO codes), such as (1) legislators, senior officials and managers; (2) professionals; (3) technicians and associate professionals; (4) clerks; (5) service workers, shop and market sales workers; (6) skilled agricultural and fishery workers; (7) craft and related trade workers; (8) plant and machine operators and assemblers; and (9) elementary occupations. The last is in the unskilled category. Table 2.6 below presents the distribution (in percentages) of the workforce (both rural and urban together) across these occupations for SCs, STs and others. These percentages may be assessed, keeping in mind that the respective shares (in per cent) of these communities in the total population were 16.3, 8.0 and 75.7 in 1991, and 16.6, 8.6 and 74.7 in 2011. It is clear from Table 2.5 that SCs and STs are highly under-represented in more prestigious and paying occupation like the first three, relative to their shares in total population. It is only in the unskilled last category (elementary) that SCs are better represented than their share in population. Table 2.5 Occupational distribution of regular workers by caste, 1994 and 2012 (UPSS) (%) Occupation Groups 1994 Administrative (1) Professional (2,3) Clerical (4) Service and sales (5) Agriculture & allied skilled (6) Production (7,8) Elementary (9) Total


SC ST 3.78 1.34 7.55 3.80 8.26 3.23 13.61 3.58 16.60 13.87 13.08 29.24 13.52

Others 94.88 88.65 88.51 82.81 69.53

3.95 82.97 6.85 63.90 4.49 81.99

Total 100 100 100 100 100

SC 8.05 12.12 14.75 15.96 23.78

ST 1.36 3.69 4.11 4.85 8.78

Others 90.60 84.18 81.14 79.19 67.44

100 100 100

17.42 3.21 79.37 29.02 6.46 64.52 16.90 4.10 79.00

Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

Notes: (1) Sample of individuals belongs to 15–65 age groups in 18 major states. ‘Others’ include OBCs. (2) One-digit NCO codes are given in parentheses. (3) UPSS – Usual Principal plus Subsidiary Status. Source: Singhari (2017: 114) calculated from unit level data of NSSO

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 43 Table 2.6 Wage ratios by castes and employment status, 1983 to 2012 1983 SC/ FC













Regular Rural 0.66 Urban 0.73 Total 0.64

0.63 0.80 0.59

0.74 0.76 0.71

0.80 0.90 0.76

0.65 0.63 0.61

0.63 0.80 0.65

0.70 0.70 0.68

0.75 0.63 0.64

0.74 0.74 0.68

0.81 0.71 0.71

Casual Rural 0.94 Urban 0.99 Total 0.91

0.84 0.85 0.79

0.95 0.98 0.93

0.85 0.86 0.81

0.96 0.92 0.93

0.82 0.76 0.78

1.00 1.00 0.99

0.99 1.06 0.99

0.80 0.89 0.79

1.04 1.17 1.06

Note 1: In 1983 and 1994, Forward Castes (FC) include OBCs; in 2005 and 2012, FCs exclude OBCs. 2: Sample of individuals belongs to 15–65 age groups in 18 major states. Source: Singhari (2017: 160)

However, there has been some improvement in the case of SCs as between 1994 and 2012 in respect of the first three categories, but the improvement is not significant in the case of STs. Singhari found through painstaking calculations that not only there is no fair representation of SCs and STs in better occupations, they also receive less wages than the Forward Castes on the average. Even for the same work, an SC or ST worker tends to be paid less. Her findings in this respect are presented in Table 2.6. The table presents average wage ratios both in regular and casual work, and rural and urban labour markets as well as in both these markets together. Due to non-availability of data on OBCs for 1983 and 1994, the wage ratios for these two years on the one hand and those for 2005 and 2012 on the other are not comparable in Table 2.6 because FCs (Forward Castes) include OBCs for the former two years, but separate data were available for OBCs and FCs (other than OBCs) for the latter two years. However, the changes between 1983 and 1994 are comparable, and so are those between 2005 and 2012. It may be noted that a higher ratio means less difference, and an increase in the wage ratio means a reduction of difference. The ratios are higher in the case of casual labour, which means that the wage disparity is higher in the case of regular jobs. As between rural and urban areas, there is no consistent pattern of wage disparity between social groups, though of course the urban wage rates are higher in urban areas than in the rural both for regular and casual labour for all social groups. As between social groups, the wage disparity is significant in the case of SCs and STs, particularly so among STs. In the case of OBCs, however, there is no disparity between them and FCs in casual labour only, but is significant in regular labour. The heartening point, however, is that there is a general tendency

44  M. V. Nadkarni for wage disparity to decline especially between 2005 and 2012, but wage disparity has still persisted especially in regular labour in 2012. Wage differences between SCs and Forward Castes (FCs), even for the same job, may be either due to differences in the endowment of workers on account of differences in qualifications and experience, or due to discrimination or prejudice. Madheswaran and Singhari (2016) have decomposed the wage differences on account of these factors, attributing the differences unexplained by endowment as due to discrimination. The analysis is with reference to only regular and urban occupations. They have calculated it for three years on the basis of NSSO data, 1993–94, 2004–05 and 2011–12. Table 2.8 presents findings for the latter two years only, since the figures for 1993–94 are not comparable with those for the latter two. This is because FCs include OBCs in 1993–94 but exclude them in the latter two years. Table 2.7 shows that the larger part the wage disparity is on account of endowment differences, and discrimination accounts for less than one-third of the wage disparity. The major cause for wage differences is on account of endowment, which suggests that the most efficacious way of reducing disparity is to provide quality education and training to all, especially the Dalits (SCs and STs). However, discrimination plays a more important role in the private sector where it accounts for about one-third of disparity, while in the public sector it accounts for less than one-fourth. While the role of discrimination has come down in the public sector between 2004–05 and 2011–12, it remains practically the same in the private sector. This means that the benefit of reservation has to be extended to the private sector also. In an economy where job opportunities are growing fast, labour has better chance of improved terms of employment, and the temptation of discrimination on the part of employers would be less. Full employment favours Broad-Basing, and a tendency to labour saving can induce marginalisation. Papola (2012) has calculated annual rate of growth of both total and regular employment by social groups for two periods – 1983 to 1993–94, and 1993–94 to 2009–10 based on unit level data of NSSO. They are presented in Table 2.8. Sadly, as Table 2.8 shows, the rate of growth of overall employment has declined from 2% per annum to 1.3% between the two periods, though the

Table 2.7 Decomposition of wage differences between SCs and FCs in public and private sectors: 2004–05 and 2011–12 (in percentages) Year – >



 Public sector  Private sector Public sector  Private sector 

 Endowment difference 70.1  Discrimination 29.9


67.4 32.6

Source: Madheswaran and Singhari (2016: table 2)


75.8 24.2


67.6 32.4

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 45 decline in regular employment is marginal from 2.1 to 2.0 per annum. The rate of growth of employment for SCs is higher than for the total population both in respect of all jobs and regular jobs. In the case of STs, however, the growth is lower in both categories of jobs. They also need more attention and encouragement to join the mainstream. They seem to be more disadvantaged than even the SCs particularly in respect of access to education. Employment in India is now increasingly oriented to the service sector. Hence access to higher education is crucial in securing better job opportunities. Here again the SCs are catching up with the rest of the population, but STs are lagging behind. The gross enrolment ratios for higher education (as ratios to respective population of groups of ages 18–23 years) in India in 2013–14 were 23.0% for all categories of students, but 17.7% among SC students and only 11.3% among ST students.3 A similar picture arises if we take the number of graduates per thousand population (of age groups of 15 and above), which is seen in Table 2.10. We see from Table 2.9 that the number of graduates per thousand of population has increased from a mere 22 to 41 among SCs between 2001 Table 2.8 Growth of employment by social groups Social Group

Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes Others All

Growth of Employment

(% per annum)


1993–94 / 2009–10

2.7 (1.0) 1.8 (-0.4) 1.9 (2.6) 2.0 (2.1)

1.7 (3.6) 0.9 (1.9) 1.1 (1.5) 1.3 (2.0)

Note: Calculated from unit level data of NSSO. Figures in parentheses are for regular employment. Source: Papola (2012: 14)

Table 2.9 Number of graduates per thousand population Year

All SC ST Others Year All SC ST Others







57 22 15 68 2011 81 41 26 96

75 34 22 88 2011 98 54 35 114

38 10 7 46 2011 64 27 17 77

Note: Population figures refer to those aged 15 years and above. Source: Census of India 2001 and 2011

46  M. V. Nadkarni and 2011, and from 15 to only 26 among STs. However, both these social groups are still behind ‘Others’ (inclusive of OBCs), since there is a considerable rise in the figure among ‘Others’ too from 68 to 96. The figure for even 2011 for the total population, namely, 81 graduates per thousand is quite low, considering the growing importance of the service sector. The table also shows greater relative gender disparity among SCs and STs than among others and total population, which however has declined during the decade. However, there is still a good scope for improvement in the situation.

Crimes against SCs in a comparative perspective Economic development has no meaning if the law-and-order situation continues to be bad and people have no security even of their own person. On the other hand, an environment of security promotes both welfare and economic development. It is a mark of good civilisation if particularly marginalised sections of population and women feel safe and secure. Atrocities against Scheduled Castes have quite understandably caused considerable anger among them and a lot of unease in the governments – both the state level and central. Heinous crimes like murder, rape and arson are most deplorable whether perpetrated against SCs or others. But hate crimes, apart from hurting the victims and their dignity and security, arouse passions and lead to violence involving considerable loss of life and property. They vitiate harmony and breed hatred. They will also retard the economic development of not only the victims but also of the country in general. Whenever and wherever they occur, they should be investigated promptly and perpetrators be brought to justice. The attention given to atrocities particularly against SCs by media has given rise to a feeling that SCs are specially the focus of heinous crimes, and that they are singled out for them. This may very well be so when we consider individual instances. No doubt several developments after India’s independence have contributed to the rise of tensions between SCs and some higher castes in villages. This has often resulted in violence, and mostly SCs are at the receiving end, resulting not only in beatings but even heinous crimes against them like murders, rapes and arson. The main weapon used by SCs in defence consists of strong and well publicised protests. The publicity given to such hate crimes and Dalit protests should not, however, hide the fact that crimes against SCs are a part of the general crime scene in India, and that the crime rate against SCs, including even the rate of heinous crimes, is actually much lower than the general crime rate. Surely there should be no complacency about crimes against Dalits on this ground, but there should also be a factual understanding of their extent in a comparative perspective. Hate crimes, however, are much more emotionally disturbing, and rightly get more attention. My only hope is that a factual understanding may somewhat soothe the extremely agitated state of the Dalit mind, and while they should not reduce their protest against the atrocities to which

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 47 they are subjected, they should reduce at the same time any attitude of hatred against non-Dalits. It is not as if Dalits are subjected to more crimes than the population in general. The facts are evident from the three tables presented here, based on the data for respective years in the Crime in India Reports published by the National Crime Research Bureau, Government of India. Table 2.1 presents the rate of total crimes and also of three important forms of violence against SCs per million of SC population: murders, rape and arson. There are other forms of crimes also to which SCs are subjected, like physical assaults which are included in the incidence of total crimes. Table 2.2 presents similar statistics for the general population. The crime rates in the two tables can be compared with each other. They show that crime rate is much lower against SCs than in the population as a whole. By how much lower, can be seen in Table 2.3 which presents ratios of the crime rate against SC population over the crime rate against the total population. These ratios can also be taken as coefficients of concentration of crimes against SCs. The coefficients were calculated in two ways as a double-check, and both tallied. One way is dividing the crime rate against SC population by the crime rate against total population. The second way is dividing the percentage of crimes against SCs to total crimes by the percentage of SC population in the total population. A coefficient above the value of one suggests concentration of crime against the group concerned. But it is significantly less than one in all types of crime against SCs. It means that though the SCs are definitely subjected to crimes which should not be ignored, the population as a whole is subjected to an even greater rate of crimes. This is so with respect to all crimes together, as also for murders, rape and arson. A few more points also emerge from the tables. One is that among the three main types of heinous crimes against SCs focused upon here, rape has the highest rate, though the rate of rape is even higher in the general population. Rape is a particularly humiliating weapon among hate crimes. The rate of rapes has increased noticeably both against SCs and general population after 2011, particularly so against the general population. Since the rate of rape is higher even in the general population, it reflects the presence of a deplorable attitude of contempt or even hatred against women as a whole, rather than SCs alone. The coefficient of concentration of rapes against SCs increased significantly between 2011 and 2015, but it has declined slightly in 2016, though still higher than in 2011. Second, as between 2001 and 2016, the crime rate has increased both against SCs and total population in respect of all crimes together, but the increase is much higher against the general. It shows an increasing degree of violence and worsening of the law and order situation in the last 15 years. A redeeming feature, however, is that the concentration coefficient in the case of total crimes against SCs has declined by more than half from 0.117 in 2001 to 0.053 in 2016, but in the case of murders, the concentration coefficient which had declined has increased from 0.130 in 2001 to 0.118

48  M. V. Nadkarni in 2011 reversed its trend and increased to 0.160 in 2016. However, the coefficient is much below 1.0 showing that the rate of murders against the general population is much higher. Though the rate of hate crimes against SCs is lower than the general crime rate, hate crimes are far more serious in their emotional impact and impact on national integrity and even on the economy. All crimes have to be no doubt dealt with seriously, but hate crimes particularly require urgent deterrent action against perpetrators. A special difficulty of dealing with crimes Table 2.10 Crime rate against Scheduled Castes Years






Rate of all crimes Rate of murders Rate of rapes Arson

201.04 4.57 7.89 2.12

144.99 3.71 6.50 1.17

167.44 3.34 7.73 0.84

223.47 3.51 11.55 0.89

202.61 3.90 12.62 0.83

Note: Crime rate is calculated per million of SC population. Source: Based on Crime in India Reports for respective years published by the National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB), GOI, New Delhi

Table 2.11 Crime rate against all population Years






Rate of all crimes Rate of murders Rate of rapes Rate of arson

1722.76 35.25 15.65 10.26

1652.72 29.67 16.65 7.66

1921.66 28.35 20.00 7.49

2342.44 25.52 27.52 7.71

3992.42 23.90 30.57 8.79

Note: Crime rate is calculated per million of total population. Source: Based on Crime in India Reports for respective years published by the National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB), GOI, New Delhi

Table 2.12 Coefficients of concentration of crime against SCs Years






All crimes Murders Rape Arson

0.117 0.130 0.504 0.207

0.088 0.125 0.390 0.152

0.087 0.118 0.386 0.112

0.095 0.137 0.419 0.115

0.053 0.163 0.413 0.094

Note: The coefficients were calculated in two ways; both tally. One way is dividing the crime rate against SC population by the crime rate against total population. The second way is dividing the percentage of crimes against SCs to total crimes by the percentage of SC population in the total population. A coefficient above the value of one suggests concentration of crime against the group concerned. Source: Calculated by the author from the statistics in respective Crime in India Reports of NCRB

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 49 against SCs is that often big groups or villages are collectively involved in them. In such cases, the group as a whole has to be penalised, in addition to prosecuting individuals involved. A strict and prompt dealing with crimes can alone act as deterrent, particularly in the case of hate crimes. The atrocities against Dalits are taken very seriously by them, and understandably so. As Manohar Yadav has observed in Chapter 3: ‘In case of an event of atrocity or injustice committed on Dalits, either by higher castes or state machinery itself, thousands of people thronged in protest against the culprits. They took on the whole lot of the regime responsible for the crime by shouting slogans, dancing and drum beating and singing songs’. Such strong, prompt and organised protests, capturing widespread media attention, may definitely have contributed to reducing their incidence, compared with crimes against the general or total population.

Conclusion Our overall conclusion is that the social hierarchical gap between castes has apparently declined over the decades; however, since economic growth has been increasing the disparity between classes or income groups, and since the SCs and STs are by and large still in the lower income groups, the economic disparity between castes has not been slowing down fast enough. Zoya Hasan has significantly remarked: However improbable it might have seemed in 1950, the trend toward greater equalization is unmistakable. The policy of providing benefits to historically disadvantaged peoples, which was established through several provisions in the Constitution played an important part in advancing this agenda. (Hasan 2009: 4) A few steps are necessary to remedy persistent discrimination against Dalits. As Shah et al. (2006: 171) have observed through a study of 565 villages across 11 states in India, all SCs do not experience untouchability equally. Those with education and in white-collar jobs in cities face it least; at the other end, those SCs still in ‘unclean’ jobs like manual scavenging face it most (ibid.: 165). Technological advance has made it unnecessary to have dry latrines, and manual scavenging has to be ended throughout the country immediately. Village and small industries should be encouraged to absorb those who are displaced from ‘unclean’ jobs. Since economic forces now largely determine the social now, economic growth has to be so influenced as to benefit the deprived castes and classes. This strategy has to complement the strategy of reservations to make the latter effective. One such strategy in India is the rural employment guarantee programme. A study of agricultural wage data of 209 districts across the country showed that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment

50  M. V. Nadkarni Guarantee Scheme introduced on a national scale in 2006 with the support of the Union Government has contributed to relieving rural poverty by increasing the growth of real wages of agricultural labour by 4.3% per year on the average. The increase was not just a one-step rise but an increased growth in wages. Apart from the direct benefit to beneficiaries, the scheme raised the demand for labour and also had a productivity effect through creation of productive assets and supporting the rural economy. This is clearly the world’s largest public works programme and generated 2.6 billion person-days of employment in the financial year 2010–11 (Berg et al. 2018: 239–240). The scheme has improved the bargaining power of labour vis-à-vis the employers, though it does not intend to compete with normal agricultural employment. This is one of the reasons for increased tension between Dalits, who are by and large labourers, and OBCs, who are by and large farmers. This, however, is a passing phenomenon, since agricultural wages which had remained depressed due to the feudal caste oppression had to be liberated and find a more justifiable level. The rural economy has to accept this liberation and adjust to it. Violence does not help. However, hate crimes against Dalits have to be dealt with promptly and their perpetrators be brought to justice without fail. Any laxity in the matter is disastrous. Dalits should be encouraged to join the police force in greater numbers. The state in India is not alive enough to the need to step up educational opportunities for Dalits. It is to the government rural schools to which most of the Dalit children go. However, not enough is done to raise the quality of teaching and infrastructure in these schools. As a result, many of the students are not able to pass well enough to go to higher education and do well there. Many are thus condemned to remain in villages as labourers. The urgent need is to create more employment opportunities in rural areas through encouragement to agro-processing and other cottage and smallscale industries. Though it is acknowledged that reservations have helped a large number of deprived castes to come into the mainstream, the scope of these measures is confined today only to the public sector and state-aided institutions, and does not cover the private sector whose importance in the economy as an employer has significantly increased over the last three decades. Some way has to be found by the state policy to encourage the private sector also to extend a preferential treatment to the deprived castes. It is a part of the social responsibility of the private sector. The state also has to encourage private enterprise by Dalits themselves, through preferential treatment in procurement of supplies, awarding contracts and credit policy. A few Dalit communities, such as Chamars in UP and Ezhavas in Kerala have already proved their mettle in business. But this has to spread and be encouraged among other Dalits too. There is one more issue. There are more deprived castes even among Dalits. There is a hierarchy even among them. The upper crust of Dalits have

Broad-Basing process and Dalits 51 benefited most from the system of reservations or quotas for them in admissions to educational institutions and jobs. There are high earning professionals, political leaders and even businessmen among them. In any competition, their children will have an advantage over the children of labourers whose generation is the first to go school in their families. There arises an ethical question thus of whether such a preferential treatment based on caste and tribal identity should still be applied in cases where parents of candidates concerned have on a personal basis long overcome their deprived status. To put it concretely, should not the criterion of the creamy layer, which is presently applied in the case of OBCs, be extended to the SCs and STs as well? It is well to remember that there are poor and deprived sections in other social groups also such as suppressed castes among Muslims and Christians. There is poverty even among upper caste Hindus. An exclusive focus on caste disparities has no doubt contributed to considerably reducing social distances and has strengthened the belief in the equality of citizens, which is no mean achievement in India. But such an exclusive focus has led India to ignore terribly widening economic disparities. Not excluding the creamy layer among SCs and STs is unfair not only to non-SC competitors but also to those within SCs, particularly to sub-castes within SCs who are more deprived. Excluding the creamy layer from such benefits will eventually reduce the power of caste identity and will one day lead to ‘annihilation of castes’, which Dr Ambedkar desired and aimed at. Otherwise, the present system will lead simply to perpetuation of caste politics and caste divide which is hardly desirable in a democracy. It breeds a narrow mentality such as one of opposing inter-caste marriages, and comes in the way of developing and implementing the concept of Vishva-Maanava (A Universal Human) which the eminent Kannada poet, Kuvempu (K. V. Puttappa) talked of, a human not bogged down by narrowness of caste, religion, nationality or language. To avoid any possible misunderstanding, let me clarify that I am not opposed to caste-based reservations or quotas in jobs and admissions to educational institutions, but only suggesting that they be subject to excluding the creamy layer among castes. Our democracy, using the words of Sudha Pai (2013a: 169), has to raise itself from being merely ‘procedural’ to being ‘substantive’, which can happen only when justice reaches all citizens and equality is achieved as promised by the Constitution of India in the preamble. Broad-Basing has a tough fight with the marginalisation process, and the long term winning tendency of the former – though evident – is not fast enough. The disparity between social groups appears more due to the lag in the process of catching up with the more advanced groups, than due to a deliberate marginalisation or discrimination, though the latter also exists to a lesser degree. Improvement in the access to quality education for all can hasten up the catching up process, while a policy of continuing with the reservation system and extending it to the private sector can tackle discrimination. Both of these strategies together can achieve a greater degree of Broad-Basing.

52  M. V. Nadkarni

Notes 1 I am grateful to Dr Khalil Shaha for statistical support. Tables 2.5 and 2.6 are taken from Singhari’s unpublished doctoral thesis. I am grateful to her as well as to her PhD Supervisor, Prof. S. Madheswaran, for permission to use them. Thanks are due also to Dr V. Anil Kumar and Dr Lavanya Suresh for drawing my attention to some books. 2 From Rediffmail News, karma-not-by-birth/20171025.htm, downloaded on 25 October 2017. 3 Source: Educational Statistics at a Glance 2016, Government of India, Ministry of Human Development, New Delhi, Table 25 on pp. 36–38.

3 Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? Its achievements and challenges1 Manohar Yadav

Historical account of central conflict There are sufficient reasons to justify the Dalit movement to have been the most successful social movement in India, both from the viewpoint of the historical and contextual experiences of not only outlining ideas and objectives but also carrying through them in reality. The history of Karnataka is not simply a history of conflict between kings ruling various regions but also one of cultural conflicts and religious subversions. The challenges and counter challenges, involving defenders of feudal hegemonic order and the affected people trying to overcome its exploitative effects, have also been parts of history. Such history is not confined to Karnataka, since the structural and cultural linkages cannot be segregated from the rest of the regions in India, particularly the southern ones. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have influenced Karnataka to a great extent and Karnataka in turn has influenced, in its own way, these states too. Sharana Sanskriti, drawn from the widespread Buddhist cultural movement, operated as the linking line of articulation and assertion for non-Brahmin movements in these states. The followers of Buddhism in some of these states had constituted a significant portion of population. According to Sadasivan, ‘Mahayan Buddhists accounted for 85% of the population even as early as the 12th and the 13th centuries’ (Sadasivan 2000: 336). Around the same time Basaveshwara, the founder of the Lingayat religion and a strong proponent of Sharana tradition, had organised masses in Karnataka against the priestly tradition of inequality. Large numbers of untouchables had also found refuge in his new religion, which, though theistic, based its egalitarian ethics on Buddha’s teachings. The main objective of Basaveshwara’s movement was to establish a right relationship between man and man, and God and religion such that universal values of love, compassion and brotherhood became fundamentals of life. He ridiculed discrimination based on caste and untouchability and drew his disciples from every stratum of society. His movement was truly great with simple virtues of secular humanism. (Yadav 1998: 108)

54  Manohar Yadav But his spiritual war lost its fire or rather was swallowed by Brahminism over the course of time. Lingayatism was nothing but a moulded form of Buddhism, which Basaveshwara had conceived to encounter Brahminism and every other oppressive aspect of Hinduism. He went to the extent of organising marriages between untouchables and higher castes so as to root out caste discrimination. Naturally those with Brahminic bent of mind led by Brahmins turned their ire towards Basavanna’s movement. However, in the days to come, Lingayatism survived but in a distorted form. It gave rise to many ‘narrow parochial monasteries without any open door practices’ (Yadav: 108). Thus it did not spread much beyond the boundaries of Karnataka. Although during subsequent centuries, various saint poets tried their best to revive Basavanna’s movement in its original spirit, their efforts did not suffice to do that since it was too challenging a task to shake the formidable rock of Brahminism. But at any stage of history, the presence of expression of dissent against Brahminism has always been there, whether fierce or mild. Hence we need to reconstruct Dalit movement from a historical perspective. According to Alain Touraine, ‘the idea of a social movement seeks to demonstrate the existence, within every societal type, of a central conflict. It was central conflict that set nation against prince, and then workers against employers’ (Touraine 2000: 89). Though he makes a broad case for the presence of a ‘cultural conflict’ he treats it from the viewpoint of a contextual conflict ‘being waged . . . by a Subject struggling against the triumph of market and technologies on the one hand, and communitarian authoritarian powers on the other’ (ibid.: 89). He does not bring about any corresponding historical link between transient cultural conflicts passing through various phases of history as interminable processes. Dalit movement, however is not related to any specific societal type of struggle resulting from contemporary crisis. It is necessarily long, protracted persistent phenomenon and is essentially and completely civilisational in content. In fact it looks like total ever-existing conflict. Therefore Dalit movement is very different from the Farmers’ Movements, Eco-centric Movements, or any New Social Movement. Dalit movement in Karnataka is historically structured and has a built-in element of unceasing social struggle. It was there in the past and it is here in the present. And perhaps it will continue to be there in the future as long as clashing interests keep on persisting either in defence of the so far enjoyed prerogatives or with insistence on the hitherto denied claims. The innermost spirit of this struggle is assertion of cultural superiority of one interest group over the other. Of course, other factors capable of constituting similar historical strife are also present in the background. But as priesthood and power were bound together, cultural collisions assumed special significance over the rest. In this backdrop, the history of India is no more or less than the history of conflict between Buddhism and Brahminism. According to Babasaheb Ambedkar, ‘it is the struggle for supremacy between Brahminism

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 55 and Buddhism that gave rise to the institution of untouchability’ (Ambedkar 1948: 155). Brahminism must not be mistaken to be strictly with reference to Brahmins as people. Brahminism may have possessed any class or community of people for that matter. Therefore what Buddhism encountered was not people but what it saw as Brahminism being possessed by people. Indeed, the essence of the struggle between Brahminism and Buddhism is the driving spirit of the Dalit movement in Karnataka. The former symbolises inequality, bondage and oppression whereas the later exemplifies equality, freedom and fraternity. Although this struggle began with Buddha, the Basaveshwara revived it with equal vehemence. In modern times Babasaheb Ambedkar gave it much needed strength and vigour and took it to its utmost heights. Naturally the Dalit movement in Karnataka derives its impetus from the struggles led by these three great icons. And therefore its ideological symbols, even today, are put together as Buddha, Basava and Ambedkar. The ideological sameness or repetition of an ideological stance at every turn should be seen as a new avatar of the old one, and each of these ideologies should be looked at as radically full and complete. When Ambedkar pleads for the urgent uplift of the extremely lower castes, he does not exclude Other Backward Classes from his liberationist scheme. He only means that the more wounded deserve to be treated first and somewhat specially. But certainly all others also should also get equal treatment in his conception of justice.

Princely State of Mysore: non-Brahmin and Dalit awakening British rule in India as it stayed on for more than one and a half centuries had made holes in many of the unjust irrational layers of the Hindu society. Particularly, as it went on spreading the Western outlook with the introduction of English language, the religious model of life came under strong pressure. Slowly the face of society started changing. This had its own effect on the Mysore state as well. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, much awaited awakening among the non-Brahmin communities took place. Several of the non-Brahmin castes began to think of overcoming their fixed stations of life. Also because of the subtle presence of the philosophy of Basaveshwara, soil had already become fertile for this assertion. without resorting to direct attack against the Brahmins, each non-Brahmin caste in its own way was trying to mobilize itself towards achieving a higher stature in socio-cultural life. Castes like the Lingayats rejected Hindu framework and attempted to attain social prestige and status within the Lingayat framework. It was not Sanskritization, but a secessionist process through which they were trying to mobilize respect for themselves and prove that they were smart, superior and distinct. (Yadav 1998: 109)

56  Manohar Yadav Entire South India was charged with waves of such sort of mobilisation. But what is important is direction of this wave, which turned beyond and transformed itself into a move towards securing social and political justice. The rise of reform movements too, such as Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and Ramkrishna Mission, which had spread their branches in Karnataka mainly to address such peripheral practices as child marriage, created a progressive environment that could morally boost the assertive actions of the nonBrahmin communities in Mysore. Domination of Brahmins in the power structure of the Princely State of Mysore had amply irked the non-Brahmin communities. The well-to-do among the Lingayats and Vakkaligas had become much more discontented towards the Brahmin monopoly of administration. Hence they were feeling the imperative need to organise themselves to break the iron grip of Brahmins over the power configuration and make way into it for themselves as well. With this backdrop, community development activities were also taken up and ‘prominent caste associations (like) the Mysore Lingayat Education Fund Association and the Vokkaligara Sangha (were) established in 1905 and 1906 respectively’ (Chandrasekhar 1985: 34). By the time the Princely State of Mysore took up developmental activities and as a part of that process created new job opportunities, the non-Brahmins had become substantially organised to place before the rulers what they felt as ‘discrimination in recruitment’ (ibid.: 34). The new mechanization and industrial policies were termed as policies intended to favour the educated urban Brahmins, to the detriment of the rural, agriculturalist non-Brahmins. (So) as if to satisfy such forces it was decided to reserve 25 per cent of the jobs to nonBrahmin qualified candidates. But since the candidates of these groups were found to be ‘not qualified’ the posts were given to ‘better qualified’ Brahmins. (ibid.: 38) But what is important is some of the family members of the Maharaja had shown requisite sympathy to the non-Brahmin cause. They had come forward to support persons like M. Basavaiah, K. H. Ramaiah and Yajaman Veerabasappa to organise the non-Brahmin movement. But when C. R. Reddy, an ardent follower of Phule, came to Mysore and joined Maharaja College, the movement got a real momentum. Reddy attempted to bring various non-Brahmin interests under a single banner and founded the Praja Mitra Mandali in the year 1917. ‘The movement assumed a (serious) shape of demand for adequate representation in services because it was noticed that in 1918 Brahmins had preponderance in the public services’ (Havanur 1975: 3). It is said the most notable achievement of non-Brahmin movement in Princely State of Mysore was the constitution of a committee on the Backward Classes.

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 57 To a deputation consisting of the leaders of non-Brahmins which met His Highness the Maharaja Mysore in 1918 an assurance was given that a Committee on Backward Class would be appointed to consider the problem, and in fact such a committee was appointed under the chairmanship of Sir Leslie Miller, Chief Justice of Mysore. (Also) in 1921 His Highness the Maharaja implemented the recommendations Millar Committee. (ibid.: 3) But though the movement began with the genuine objective of developing the backward castes, it hardly worked for that goal. In practices its goals were opportunistic and directed towards acquiring positions in the princely State of Mysore (Yadav 1998: 110). A controversy too engulfed among them as to how much share each non-Brahmin caste should get in the entire arrangement of reservation for the posts in administration. Hence there was not much integration and united common collective action. The so-called non-Brahmins were themselves afflicted from the notions of Brahminism. Also they were ridden with unyielding prejudice towards the untouchables. Thus they kept the Panchama problem out of their non-Brahmin framework. But the princely state acted upon it very sincerely. ‘It provided for Panchama education by starting separate schools from them and by 1901 it could start as many as 65 Panchama schools’ (Shastry 1991: 39). But when the princely state took initiative to integrate these schools with the general schools a storm of protest arose. ‘Not only the orthodox Hindus but the Muslims also agitated and withdrew their children from the schools. The redoubtable C R Reddy, the then Inspector General of Education, did not budge and stood by the legitimate rights of Panchamas’. The helpless Panchamas were also trying to organise themselves. As early as 1906 they had established the Adi-dravid Abhivridhi Sangh to represent their problems to the princely state. Consequently, although it could strike at the power base of Brahminism, the non-Brahmin movement in the Princely State of Mysore was successful only in a restricted sense.

Ambedkar and the rise of the Dalit movement in Karnataka There is a strong link between the evolution of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on the national scene as an exclusive champion of the depressed classes and the rise of the Dalit movement in Karnataka. Actually, the influence of Ambedkar on the Dalits of the Hyderabad and Bombay regions of Karnataka was so great that every pocket had responded to his calls and had organised meetings for him on huge scales. Ambedkar’s movement was activated from Mangaon, where he held the first convention of untouchables in the year 1920 under the presidency of Chhatrapati Shahoo Maharaj of Kolhapur. Mangaon is 30 km from Chikkodi in Belgaum District.

58  Manohar Yadav Further, as early as 1924 when he founded Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha, Babasaheb Ambedkar was invited to address Dalit assemblages in Nippani, Khadakalat, Bedkihal and Examba townships of Chikkodi taluk. Dalits in these adjoining areas of Kolhapur District came forward to support Ambedkar movement because they were economically better placed, as the entire tobacco retail business was then in their hands. Ambedkar had also toured through some of the villages and townships in Bijapur, Bidar and Gulbarga Districts. Dalits in these areas thronged in the thousands, walking miles of distances to attend and hear Dr Ambedkar, whenever and wherever arrangements were made for his public meetings. The Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha had initiated its activities in Sholapur and Belgaum Districts by starting hostels for the students of the Depressed Classes. ‘The Sabha bore the expenses incurred by the students on clothes, stationery and boarding’. Jivappa Adyale was appointed as the superintendent of hostel at Sholapur and Devu Ingale was made in charge of the hostel at Belgaum. Thereafter the Sabha began its welfare activities in Dharwad District. In 1927 Babasaheb himself took personal interest in starting a hostel in Dharwad for Depressed Classes students. During the same year he had inaugurated the Machagar Mahasangh at Dharwad, where Chamars were organised to take the leather business on a cooperative basis. A host of admirers and lieutenants of Babasaheb Ambedkar had emerged on the scene of Karnataka to espouse the cause of the Ambedkar movement. While in Southern Karnataka men like M. Jayaseelan, M. Mahaiah, M. Chikkalingaiah, R. L. Umapathy, S. M. Siddaiah, M. Y. Murugesan and C. M. Arumugam were active, in Northern Karnataka Datta Katti, B. H. Varale, Rao Saheb Papanna, Revappa Kale, Yallappa Hongal, M. D. Ghodake, D. Y. Sambrani, and Shankardev Vedalankar were active. In 1926 Jivappa Adyale had founded Satya Prasarak Bhim-Sena Mandal which organized a troop of 380 persons for maintaining discipline in the community. (Kshirsagar 1994: 169, 387) This speaks to the influence that Ambedkar had on the Dalits in Karnataka. When he rose to national fame, even the Princely State of Mysore, which had a Gandhian leaning, changed its attitude towards Ambedkar. The Prince of Mysore donated about ten acres of land to Ambedkar to erect a Buddhist monastery and start educational institutions. During the last days of his life Ambedkar had a large number of followers in all the major pockets of Karnataka, and his impact was so brightly growing that the conversion to Buddhism took place at Kolar Gold Field even before the historic mass conversion to Buddhism at Nagpur in 1956. Pandit Jyothidas was the pioneering leader in converting the Depressed Classes

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 59 to Buddhism. Marikuppam Bangalore and Hubli were the centres of South Indian Buddhist Association, founded by Pandit Jyothidas at Madras. (Kshirsagar 1994: 169, 387)

Post-Ambedkar scenario The developments that appeared after Ambedkar’s Parinirvan fall into three phases. The first phase began with one of the great followers of Ambedkar organising Dalit masses, particularly in the southern part of the Karnataka, namely Shyam Sunder. This second is attributed to Basavalingappa’s almost two decades of fiery concern for the Dalits in Karnataka. And the third is what has been widely regarded as the most revolutionary movement launched by the Karnataka Dalit Sangarsha Samiti (DSS). Shyam Sunder launched his struggle with the setting up of his most famous Bhim Sena, an organisation named after the first name of Ambedkar ‘Bhimrao’ in 1968. But Shyam Sunder was himself a thinker, yet most of what he thought was all within the framework of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s thinking. The Bhim Sena began its career in Gulbarga Township and later spread in some parts of Karnataka. Through his small book, The Four Immediate Needs, Shyam Sunder placed before the country four important demands: ‘surrender of 25% of villages in every taluk, a separate electorate, a separate Scheduled Caste University in each state and a strong political organization for untouchables’ (Shyam Sunder 1987: 13–14). These demands were nothing but a distorted version of the perspective plan of Babasaheb Ambedkar, which he had built for the untouchables in his brochure, titled the Rights of Minorities in a Free India. Scholars like Gail Omvedt agree that Bhim Sena grew very fast by ‘fostering the tradition of militancy’. But in reality, except in terms of generating some emotional fervour, it did not leave behind much impact. Still Bhim Sena and its founder have a place in the history of the Dalit Movement in Karnataka. After Shyam Sunder, there was not much void. Soon Karnataka produced another vigorous Ambedkarite in B. Basavalingappa, while at the same time the Dalit Panthers movement was exuberantly building up in Maharashtra. It attracted the Dalit masses in the bordering districts of Karnataka and opened up branches wherever possible. At that time Basavalingappa was associated with the Congress Party for his political aims, but in full measure always stood for the cause of the Dalits. He was a brilliant lawyer and an academician par excellence. Also he was known for outspokenness. That was how during his lifetime he became a genuine voice for Dalits in Karnataka. However, very often – maybe it was his method of treating the enemies – he used to let loose his temper with the not so healthy diatribe he was known for. He was a daredevil in hurling sarcastic statements whenever he took dig at the Brahmanic system and its proponents. He never loved the Congress Party but used it as a mere plank. That is evident from one instance. Being

60  Manohar Yadav a congressman, in one of his public talks, he quoted Ambedkar to have said of it ‘as a burning house’. Basavalingappa was also bold enough to tell his followers that there should be no discussion on Ambedkar’s thoughts. He was of the view that Ambedkar should be accepted as he is. That being so, he remained an ardent of champion of the cause of the revival of Buddhism in India as envisaged by Ambedkar. Even during his tenure as a minister he could organise Buddhist meetings, and when the Dalai Lama was given the Nobel Peace Prize, he felicitated him by organising a huge Dalit Buddhist convention. Through his pointed eloquence he had kept public conscience in Karnataka ever more alive. Once, even when being a minister in Congress government, he criticised and likened the entire Kannada literature to Bhusa (cattle feed) and generated bitter controversy. There was uproar in the state until he quit his job as minister. But it is this incident which provided the foundation for the ascension of the Karnataka Dalit Sangarsha Samiti (DSS), an organisation which, in the days to follow, was to become most popular in the state. It created such an environment where all the enlightened Dalits were forced to pool together to form this historic organisation. ‘The DSS went on to become organisationally the strongest and long lasting Dalit movement in the country’ (Gail Omvedt 1994: 337).

The new beginning Indeed the DSS was a revolutionary beginning. DSS founded itself on the concept of attaining an entity of wholeness where art, culture, science and activism operate together, with the spirit of both reason and emotion to wage war on the established notions of exploitative relationships functioning in the society in Karnataka. Accordingly, it had pulled power from every direction. All potential Dalit writers, poets, novelists, social scientists, artists and activists were drawn under its banner to form a unique combination of a front hitherto unknown. Poets, writers and thinkers acted as philosophers, whereas activists were the commanders. The former inspired the latter. A most scientific attempt to organise people was followed with the help of discourses, cadre camps, workshops and cultural programmes. There were balladeers, singers, dramatists and artists performing their shows to educate the literate and ignorant masses. In less than a decade of its start, DSS reached every man and woman and owned their heart. That was how Dalit Sangharsha Samiti posed a serious threat to the hegemonic order in Karnataka. In case of an event of atrocity or injustice committed on Dalits, either by higher castes or state machinery itself, thousands of people thronged in protest against the culprits. They took on the whole lot of the regime responsible for the crime by shouting slogans, dancing and drum beating and singing songs. These gestures demonstrated new forms and contents of protest. Sometimes scoffing shrills were also heard from the strong crowd. Yet such expressions appeared to be very meaningful distinctive modes of disputing the enemy’s doings. These events were used as instruments to

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 61 impress victims about the kind of society and social system, which, instead of shunning, they wrongly revered. Centuries-old anguish had found a great channel in DSS to flow out as forcefully as it could. It was an image of an alternative world, if not utopia, that had possessed people to free them from the age-old shackles. Hundreds of protest events took place every year across the state of Karnataka. Every burning issue was taken up as a cause of concern and atrocious events particularly so. Social evils also received equal attention. A religious practice, such as Devdasi, in which young Dalit women were devoted to Goddess Yellamma for a lifetime and sexually harassed by rich upper-caste men in villages, was one such evil over which DSS acted very promptly. In 1985 a huge procession was organised in Soudatti, a place where the temple of Yellamma is located, but devotees clashed with DSS activists ending in chaos. The practice of nude worship of Goddess Chandragutii Yellamma was later taken up and the government was forced to enact law prohibiting these practices. Many instances of struggle for the grant of land can be recalled too. Verily each district unit of the DSS planned the land struggle even though it did not achieve much. The Sidlipura land struggle was the first of its sort and was followed by similar struggles in Chandagodu, Bidrekavalu, Kalasankoppa and others. On 14 April 1986, a huge mass of people from all over the state gathered in Bangalore to declare the launch of the ‘Self Respect’ movement by the Dalits. During this Swabhiman Samavesh (self-respect conclave), the DSS constitution and flag were released. In succeeding days a horrifying incident took place at Bendigeri in Belgaum District, where a few Dalits were forced to eat human waste on the charge of stealing crops in the caste Hindu fields. This sparked off bitter protests everywhere in the state. Around the same time in the same district at Bidaroli village, a Dalit woman was paraded naked on the streets for no fault of her own. To show strength of solidarity and condemn such heinous crimes DSS organised huge rally at Bangalore. It may have been the largest rally that Bangalore ever witnessed in 1987. DSS acted upon these incidents valiantly and succeeded in punishing the culprits. The Dalit literature grew as an inherent part of the Dalit movement in Karnataka. This literary movement formed the fulcrum around which the entire movement was building up. In the process, DSS gave birth to many literary figures. The writers had developed rarest style of using language whose rhetoric effect could successfully break people’s silence and at once instil strength, courage and confidence. Many literary works won incontestable admiration and applause from the readers. The inner essence of these literary works contained organised experience of the writers representing pain, hunger, humiliation and the fallen state of Dalit masses. Dalit literature is not just a cruel exercise of the words roughly knit to attack an enemy in scathing terms. . . . What it aims to strike at is the cruelty in the enemy’s heart, thoughts and actions. As such though it is superficially

62  Manohar Yadav wild, kindness is its true spirit; though its approach is direct, openness is its secret; and though its method is ridiculous, its interest is genuine. It is a spontaneous outburst of feelings with a concern for oneself, society and its system. Therefore, in its final and decisive battle what it wants to do is to deliver both enemies and the victims together from their age long, sluggish and sloppy system, smashing it once for all. It is with this revolutionary zeal that Dalit literature in Karnataka grew and spread as far as the village streets. (Yadav 1998: 117) Thus, Dalit literature created a great deal of awakening, enthusiasm, anxiety and ability to perform on the part of those who joined the DSS. It motivated people to understand it and become one with it. Because of the sharp signifying qualities of the Dalit literature, DSS reached such a height that every Dalit owned it and embraced it. Unfortunately the Dalit literature in Karnataka is also losing its flame. It is not as powerful as it used to be, although some writers continue to endow it with much needed dynamism.

Symbolism, ideology and action of DSS In terms of its contributive value, DSS has produced a lasting impact on the Dalits of Karnataka. However, till about a decade after its outset, DSS did not invent any symbol to represent its ideology, although it took a firm stand on the side of the Dalit masses on many issues. To that extent it proved to be ambiguous and amorphous. Since it had drawn its thinking folk from various ideological links, it lacked clarity on its directions and practical actions. First, it did not think of broader issues like deliverance of Dalits from the exploitative framework of Hindu society. But it did vigorously place before the government the demands for action on issues such as punishing the culprits of atrocious acts on untouchables, or grant of government land to them or whatever injustice committed on them in the area of sharing public jobs or seats in educational institutions. But nothing beyond that which is radically liberationist was seriously taken up. ‘Ambedkar had developed a crisp and coherent theory of liberation. First of all, Ambedkar wanted the Dalits to be delivered from the socio-cultural exploitation of Hinduism. Secondly, he wanted the Dalits to be economically self-reliant and politically powerful’ (Yadav 1998: 119) to the extent that it enabled them to launch a counter-revolution against the Brahmanic hegemonic hold over the Indian masses. Ambedkar was addressing an issue of central conflict between the Buddhism and the Brahminism and was trying to energise the longsuspended historic movement of Buddhism against Brahminism. Only to revive that stilled movement he had given a clarion call to the Dalits to abandon Hinduism ad infinitum and seek solace in Buddhism, which, according to him, was their original heritage. But that was not the only objective. By

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 63 casting off Hinduism, Ambedkar was aiming to bring about a new social order in tune with the spirit of the times. Ambedkar had rightly understood the Indian mindset and knew very well that only in the name of religion the common people could be induced to imbibe scientific thoughts. To him Buddhism was a truly scientific path of liberation and a science in itself. Without developing scientific bent of mind, it was not possible to advance in any progressive direction. Ambedkar took culture in a holistic sense of including every other component of human life and once a new cultural pattern is created, every other component will shape itself accordingly. He stressed the need to approach the problem of Brahminism through Buddhist way of life to bring in a truly authentic society, people and the nation at large. The DSS did link itself to these articulations of Ambedkar, but it did not pursue them with engaged willingness. Perhaps there was not much consensus on the issue of ideology. Yet activists shared the commitments as if to confess to some vague meanings in which they believed and based their activism. Of course they did use Ambedkar’s photo extensively and shower praises on him through what they called revolutionary songs. Also they could organise workshops and discuss perspectives of Ambedkar in relation to other ideological figures such as Marx and Lohia, where most often Ambedkar got projected as a thinker limited to the Dalit issues. But they also allowed Gandhi to hide behind the most apparent Ambedkar. What appeared to be Ambedkarite turned out to be Gandhian too. This became nearly manifest in 1986, when a decision to elect DSS conveners through democratic methods was taken at a meeting at Dharwad. First the state convener was to be elected by the district conveners. Mr Devanoor Mahadev, a prominent Dalit litterateur in Karnataka, was elected as the state convener. At the same meeting the issue of having a symbol was also taken up for discussion but ended up into bitter controversy without any agreement. A pre-decided symbol representing ‘sweeping broom and pickaxe’ was placed for acceptance and clearance in the meeting. Many took that symbol as degrading and mean. Nonetheless, after a lapse of few weeks, the same symbol came to be shown as accepted in the central committee meeting alleged to be held in the absence of the opponents of that symbol. This spoke at length about the mindset of the lead figures in the DSS. M. K. Gandhi, who moved during his campaigns with a broom and bucket to exemplify himself as a model sweeper, became symbolically the guiding force of the DSS. Subsequently such activities were promoted which were in tune with the Gandhian approach to untouchability. In the year 1987 a strange strategy to test the degree of untouchability was planned. A state-wide programme was organized in the streets of Karnataka such that Dalit youth with water pots in their hands were to request the caste Hindu passer-by to drink their (the Dalit) water. If a

64  Manohar Yadav caste Hindu drank the water from Dalit’s hand then it was understood that, so far as such person is concerned, untouchability was no more a practice and vice-versa. But the irony is that, Devanoor Mahadev (the State DSS Convener) himself had a fair number of caste Hindu friends who were always ready to share with him not only water but all other things. Yet Mahadev never ceased to be an untouchable. (Yadav 1998: 122) It means DSS succumbed to the same evils with which it was crossing its swords. Knowingly or unknowingly it could only try its strategies within the given social system. The symbol of DSS indicated a form of traditional slavery. A pickaxe with a sweeping broom did not portray an idea of self-respect. Instead it stood in contrast to the meanings delineated by the Dhamma Chakra or the blue flag of the Maharashtra Dalit Panthers. Also what DSS sentimentally accepted as Dalit traits only led them back into their ordained world of Hinduism. Naturally the idea of cultural emancipation remained far-flung from the scope of the DSS. But the cultural slavery automatically converted into political slavery. (Yadav 1998: 122) The DSS did not create the needed political awareness among the huge Dalit masses it had so laboriously organised. It left them on that point in a divided and undirected state of mind to act on their own. The forerunners in DSS, however, had a clandestine deal with the politicians of their ilk. The awaiting politicians of various political parties in the state took advantage of such situation and successfully brought about splits in DSS. They lured some leaders and granted them political benefits. That is how party lines divided DSS leadership. Some of the DSS leaders like B. Krishnappa thoughtfully felt like joining the Bahujan Samaj Party of Kanshi Ram, which embedded itself on the Ambedkar ideology. The committed B. Krishnappa remained a pure Ambedkarite throughout his life without yielding to any other political party. Yet ‘Ambedkar’s dream of making Dalits more influential political force still remained a far cry. Consequently, the Dalits in Karnataka automatically remained politically powerless, dependent and unorganised’ (Yadav 1998: 122). This circumstance is continuing because though a few of the prominent Dalit leaders like Mr Mallikarjun Kharge do wield political power in parties like the Congress, they are not so powerful as to become even the chief minister of the Karnataka state, let alone the question of empowering the entire Dalit community in itself. They face opposition from all corners in any event of such a choice being made by the party high command. Such is the political position of Dalits in Karnataka.

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 65 The economic domain of the Dalit life also remained out of the reach of the DSS. The DSS did not base its assertions in terms of collective ventures to build the Dalit economy. To the extent possible independent of the Constitution, Ambedkar, had favoured a ‘self reliant’ parallel economy of Dalits where the Dalits could have their own organized banking system, co-operative societies, agricultural colonies, industrial units etc. This was to come through a sheer self-help movement emerging out of the spirit of self-respect and self-reliance. (Yadav 1998: 122) No Dalit organisation in Karnataka did plan on such lines. But ‘as else where, attempted to do their best only within the framework of the constitutional provisions like reservation etc. They could at the most strive to ask for such policy measures, which brought about just or cursory benefits to Dalit communities and not the benefits in the real sense of the term. In sporadic instances, though DSS succeeded to get some pieces of government land such land was often useless and uncultivable’ (Yadav 1998: 122). Thus, except that whatever it got as a result of the general processes of development, the Dalit world economically maintained the same status as before. As a collective body of the great mass of people, the Dalit community could have been mobilised to make it at least substantially strong in this respect. That did not happen.

Current realities and fresh turns of DSS Since the last decade, the Dalit movement in Karnataka has taken a sensitive turn. But one has to be prudent enough in speaking about such a trend. It has not lost its incandescence although it gives an impression of being at a tangent now. Till 1986 the DSS functioned with full measure of its completeness. The leadership was collective although conveners at the level of the state, the district and the Taluk were operating as the lead workers. There was perfect harmony, from top to the bottom level, between all the wings of DSS. The leadership so far was natural and grounded on common consent. But all of a sudden there arose a move to elect the leader democratically. It only means, of late, there had developed internal fissures, which were about to be delivered into various factions. Spontaneity had lost its strength to drive the movement further together. Of course, through what was called as democratic method a leader was elected. But slowly some lead persons started distancing from the main body of the DSS run under such a leadership. Soon there came up one more parallel organisation in the state with the same heading. That split the organisation into two parts even at the level of hamlets. Subsequently many such splinter groups took by their own ways. Presently one cannot

66  Manohar Yadav exactly identify how many groups are there in the state functioning as real DSS. The DSS while making itself into a mighty force had long striven to overcome historical hurdles operating in the form of regional diversities and internal fissions among the various Dalit communities in Karnataka. Now these diversities were enlivened. A few in North Karnataka started their own organisations functioning at the level of their districts. So also regional caste organisations such as Machagar Mahasangh got their life back. The left- and right-hand caste contempt also got revived over the issue of sharing the benefits of reservation. And developments in that respect went beyond imagination. Madigas (left-hand caste members) held many demonstrations insisting on separate quota in job reservation and so forth. That weakened DSS to an immeasurable extent. The huge band of unemployed youth having been earlier recruited in DSS slowly turned out to be lumpen elements not interested any more in real organisation but in their own survival devices. They got opportunities in being distributed among various factions of the DSS to serve their own ends. Each faction developed nexus with one or the other political party and the police and the administrative echelon of the power structure. At the level of Hobli or taluk, the operation of such nexus is very rampant and visibly open. These developments can also be attributed to the contemporary temper of the larger society. Dalits have also fallen prey to the prevailing social milieu where power, self, and other prerogatives are valued more. Individual achievements and self-centred concerns have become more important than ever before. Increased interactions and exposure to changes in the wider society have been promoting lavish and laxity loaded individualism among the Dalits. All in turn have become free from the larger society. While being in a job, living among new neighbours and even while working in remote farms, Dalits are experiencing distinct social environment. So they behave as if they are more related to their kith and kin. If an ordinary person’s image about today’s society were to be tested, he will talk differently than he could have talked about it, say, some three decades ago. This type of change, of course is not so healthy, but everybody has yielded to it. Unemployed youth, whoever has joined DSS, will first think of raising money for him rather than for the organisation with which he is involved. Many well-to-do among the Dalits feel no need for organisation at all. This is a reality. But it can be linked to the kind of modern historical trends as observed by Alain Touraine. According to him, Modern history is the history of two contradictory but complementary tendencies: the increasingly obvious emergence of the personal Subject and the growing dominance of a moralizing and normative power. . . . Social movements call less and less for the creation of society or a new social order, and more and more for the defense of personal freedom, security and dignity. (Touraine 2000: 71)

Whither the Dalit movement in Karnataka? 67 Yet, while this can be submitted as the current reality, the hopes of rejuvenation of the Dalit movement in Karnataka are also in the offing. Many of the split DSS groups have become redundant with no real following in the state. Hence they are slowly becoming extinct. This has led to the expansion of truly passionate factions. Presently the most prominent of the DSS factions is the one led by Mr Mavalli Shankar named the Ambedkarvad faction. Very earnestly it is pursuing the goals of Ambedkarite movement and obviously has grand mass following in the state. It has all the potential to give the Dalit movement the requisite new turn. Mr Indoodhar Honnappa and Mr Muniappa lead the other two prominent factions of the DSS in the state. Further, integrative actions have also been put into use by some responsible Dalit figures so as to principally bind various factions without hurting their individual identities. In the year 2003, although it was Mavalli Shankar’s group which took the lead and was promptly assisted by Mr R. A. Audhi, a retired PWD secretary to the state government, there emerged nearly a total collective consensus among the various Dalit factions to organise a conversion movement in Karnataka. Accordingly on 14 October 2003 a huge mass of people, counted to be about 70,000, was converted to Buddhism. Perhaps no such event ever occurred in entire South India as far as conversion to Buddhism is concerned. It was a first of its kind occurrence, which arranged by various factions collectively, addressed the cultural conflict between Brahminism and Buddhism. All the vows of Babasaheb Ambedkar were accepted as an inevitable standard of conduct and upright principles of constructing a truly Buddhist way of life. Once these vows become behaviourally charged, the Hindu phobia of the existence of God and other corresponding beliefs will disappear from the mindset of the people to make them truly rational. The Mavalli Shankar faction of DSS has been extensively engaged in the implementation of its enlightening project. It has put conditions to opt for its membership, which include rejection of Brahminic tenets of human conduct and adoption of Buddhist doctrines with a deep faith in Ambedkarite methods of emancipation. Besides it has joined hands with other organisations in taking up some genuine programmes helpful in enabling the people to face the world of competition. It supported the cause of introduction of English language from the first standard onwards in all Kannada primary schools. This cause, the introduction of the English language, was espoused by many progressive Kannada literary figures like Nataraj Huliyar, Devanoor Mahadev, Indoodhar Honnapur, Nagaraju and others. This move generated heated debate all over the state. Few of the fake votaries of Kannada language opposed the idea of early introduction of English language and were engaged in fanning the regional language sentiments. Ultimately the state government of Karnataka took a positive stand on the issue. But the cause of the introduction of the English language brought all the DSS factions together and that is its important contextual contribution. The Ambedkarvad faction of the DSS is also opposing the idea of separate quota of reservation in jobs for each segment of the Dalit community. Its

68  Manohar Yadav basic idea is to oppose the total hegemony of Brahminism with an emphasis on self-respect and thereby invoking the other ideas of Ambedkar namely self-help and self-reliance to make them a reality in the near future. Finally one can estimate in a nutshell the contribution of DSS to the Karnataka Dalits in terms generating a conscienticisation process. Out of the forced societal circumstances, it gave rise to the stormy wave of protest against all sorts of oppressive tendencies inherent in the social fabric of Karnataka. It played decisive role in awakening the Dalits of Karnataka. But it also shook the rigid irresponsible Hindu conscience and spread like wildfire, burning every sluggish mind to transform it into a zealous flame. It gave strong blow to the terrible hold that the Brahminic and the feudal Hindus had over the untouchables and other masses. It changed the mindset of untouchables, to the extent possible in their culture, and instilled new spirit in all of their life driving energies. Therefore it will not be an exaggeration to speak of it as having really hailed a new age of hope for Dalits in Karnataka. In response to its powerful emancipatory gestures, Dalits of every hamlet, village, town and the city, joined DSS en masse to make it a common plank of pride, hope, struggle and liberation. Presently, though, it gives an image of being wounded, hopes of restoring its strength are not bleak. Hence let us wish that the DSS gets back to its old state of health.

Note 1 This essay is a thoroughly revised, enlarged and updated version of my earlier articles in Yadav (1998) and in Thangaraj (Ed.)(2007).

4 The Broad-Basing process and the backward classes Anil Kumar Vaddiraju

In Indian society, economy and polity, three factors have contributed to the emergence and consolidation of backward classes in different regions. These are (a) agrarian change over time, (b) affirmative action and (c) social reform movements. Today the backward classes form a powerful social group in commanding economic and political power. Their Broad-Basing has been a product of historical/structural change in agriculture – with earlier upper castes having largely left agriculture and villages. State action in terms of safeguarding their interests in terms of using state resources (prominently in employment and education) has also contributed to their rise. Social reform movements which had started centuries ago in various parts of India basically focused on reform of iniquitous inter-caste relations and helped in bringing these classes into the social mainstream. However, all these three dimensions – agrarian change over time, state affirmative action through allocating resources and social reform – are increasingly under question. The critics of these processes today hold that all the three have stopped at the level of backward classes, who in turn are not responsive to further calls for social, economic and political change. Critics go on to say that the backward classes – who are themselves a highly unequal and stratified group – are forming a stumbling block for further Broad-Basing and democratising Indian society. While whether this is true or not is to be empirically examined, this chapter is a modest attempt at elaborating some of these issues. The backward classes actually form part of the middle ranking castes of the Indian caste system. They form 52% of the Indian population. Their caste names vary from region to region and their nomenclature varies from state to state. They are not homogenous, and internal hierarchy of subcastes among them is almost universal across the country. There are upper backward castes and lower backward castes and so on. However, taken together they form a social and political bloc which is, in terms of the sociological ritual status, neither the ‘twice-born’ castes nor the Dalits. They are in between the ‘twice-born’ castes and the Dalits of Indian society. As such they form very much a central part of Indian society. They are numerically preponderant and are also known in the Hindi heartland as Bahujans.

70  Anil Kumar Vaddiraju Historically they have been under the dominance of upper (or twice-born) castes and have been generally considered as backward castes. They traditionally worked as farmers, weavers, washermen, village blacksmiths and goldsmiths, sheep grazers and potters and formed various other casteoccupations of the village economy. Together, they formed within the framework of the Jajmani system, a caste system and division of labour in the villages. For the reasons of affirmative action in some states they are even divided into A, B, C and D categories. Thus, they traditionally also formed the middle class of Indian society. They often also form the bulwark of rural society with their caste occupations, varying degrees of land ownership and tenancy arrangements with both upper and lower classes/castes. The question as to whether the backward classes form middle class in Indian society as a whole is difficult to answer. At any rate, the backward classes form a substantial middle class of the rural society. They are mostly land owning and cultivating castes. When taken as the rural sector per se, they do form the middle and lower-middle ranking class of the sector. However, the question then is, in the overall context of decline of agriculture in India, do the backward classes still form the middle class of rural society? And even if they do, is this fact structurally significant? The answer to the latter question is, the backward classes form the middle class of the rural society in two senses: (a) in terms of land of ownership and (b) in terms of numbers. Even while the overall agricultural sector is in decline, given the democratic politics of the country, and given their numerical strength they form a quite significant part of the country. Thus their mainstreaming should contribute to the well-being of the majority of people in rural areas. This fact indeed was not lost out in democratic politics of the country. Given the social structure of the country, the ‘upper’ castes still form the dominant part of the elite and hegemonic intelligentsia of the country. These have become urban-based and have spread to the public, private and governmental sector. These ‘upper’ castes today also control most of the economy and business. A part of them are still found in agriculture. In backward states like Bihar and UP still the ‘upper’ castes continue to be the dominant castes in the rural sector. These castes show tremendous resistance to the mainstreaming of the backward castes, or for that matter any one below in the caste structure. The resistance by these so-called upper castes during the Mandal agitation is demonstrative of this. Secure white collar jobs happen to be the forte of this class and they are loath to give up their control of these white-collar, often urban-based, well-paid jobs with all the benefits that accrue from them. Therefore the question of mainstreaming of backward classes faces formidable hurdles in the context of Indian society. In spite of the aforementioned resistance, from the point of view of BroadBasing, defined as mainstreaming the downtrodden, backward castes are so far the most successfully Broad-Based castes in India. This has happened as an historical process of democratisation of Indian society, economy and polity over time and since independence. However, this process has varied from

Broad-Basing process and backward classes 71 region to region within India. The regions which were under the erstwhile colonial regime were far ahead in this process than the other regions. While this is true for the social development in general, the particular BroadBasing process of backward castes has first happened in the erstwhile Madras Presidency. This was closely followed by the Mysore State and with similar patterns of mainstreaming in Kerala. Karnataka is generally also known for its more accommodative political culture wherein different parties have sought to accommodate social groups within the power structure thus leading to an overall liberal and cohesive society. Thus in an overall sense, the Dravidian south has taken lead in the mainstreaming of the backward castes when compared to the eastern region, the western region and the north.1 In the south the political movements led by Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker for self-respect of the non-Brahmin castes took place in the nineteenth century. The emergence of the backward castes in this region into the politics and their consequent social development dates to the same period. Ever since then the politics in the state of Tamil Nadu have been continuously dominated by the presence of the backward castes. It is also true that the decline of the Congress Party happened relatively early in Tamil Nadu when compared to the northern region. This has led to the emergence of strong backward caste–led regional party politics in the state.2 The point is that the emergence of the backward castes in the politics has happened owing to social movements, particularly the non-Brahmin self-respect movement on the part of the backward castes. The themes from these politics were later taken up and internalised by the regional parties of the Tamil Nadu. Radhakrishnan (1996) deals with backward class movements in Tamil Nadu in detail and while discussing the same brings out the differences within the backward class movements in Tamil Nadu. More recent discussion on backward class movements and the contradictions therein is brought out by Pandian (2013). Here there seem to be an increasing contradiction between the upper backwards and lower backwards on one hand and backwards and Dalits on the other. Thus according to the accounts given by Radhakrishnan (1996) and Pandian (2013), backward class movement is not a singular, homogenous movement in Tamil Nadu; rather it is a plurality of movements struggling for recognition and accommodation in state politics and economy. In Indian history, the Bhakti movement of the medieval period played some role in mainstreaming these castes. The Bhakti movement was also a social reform movement. This movement defied caste and appealed to devotion to God and an egalitarian society. The Bhakti movement which started in the south and spread to different parts of India preached that all humanity is equal before God and therefore caste distinctions do not matter. Many who wanted to escape the strict hierarchy of Brahmanical society subscribed to the different sects founded by the leaders of these movements. The net impact of these religious reform movements was to democratise the society to some extent and take away the burden of inequality from the

72  Anil Kumar Vaddiraju society. A conspicuous example of Bhakti movement that led to the betterment of lower castes is the Veerashaiva movement or the Basava movement of the 12th century in Karnataka. This led to the founding of the Shaivaite Lingayat sect, which in turn solidified into the Lingayat caste, which is one of the most powerful backward castes of today’s Karnataka. Similar examples can be discerned throughout the country (Nadkarni 2013: chapter on Bhakti movements, pp. 203–250). In Karnataka, three reasons can be attributed to the emergence of backward castes. First were the social reform movements since the 12th century. In this regard particular mention is needed of the Basavanna’s movement in the Northern Karnataka. Second was the accommodation of backward castes through affirmative action by the Princely State of Mysore in jobs and education. And third was the post-independence land reforms carried on successfully since the time of the then chief minister, Devaraj Urs. All three reasons have helped the successful emergence of backward castes in the society, economy and politics in Karnataka. And the beginnings of these processes too are earlier than independence and were subsequently strengthened by post-independence politics. These processes in turn helped emergence and strengthening of two backward castes in Karnataka, namely the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas. Lingayats are predominantly concentrated in north Karnataka and the Vokkaligas in the erstwhile Mysore state region. Within Indian politics, and particularly in northern India, the Lohiaite socialist movement championed the cause of the backward classes since the early days of independence. The emergence of these castes as a major structural phenomenon was noted in the late 1980s by Rudolph and Rudolph (1987) and Francine Frankel and M.S.A. Rao (1989). Rudolph and Rudolph argued regarding the emergence of ‘bullock capitalists’, and Frankel and Rao too argued that state power as well as dominance is shifting towards these castes in the polity. The latter two have presented statewise case studies interrogating state power and dominance in both local and supra-local arenas. The emergence of these castes in the Indian polity also coincided with that of the success of the green revolution and farmers’ movements for better prices for farm produce and better terms of trade towards agricultural sector. This phenomenon, while centred largely in the north and western region, also had its counterparts in the south in Karnataka (Nadkarni 1987: 23–25, 140–141). In the northern region the emergence and Broad-Basing of the backward castes has largely been a post-green revolution and postemergency phenomenon. This process, as is obvious, has taken place much later than in the southern region. What Yogendra Yadav called the second democratic upsurge has indeed come in the north in the 1990s (Yadav 2000). This has also coincided with the decline of the congress party in UP and Bihar and the rise of identity politics: both caste and religion. However it may be noted that the type of socialist politics that emerged in the states of UP and Bihar soon led to further splits. The Samajwadi Party, which championed the cause of backward classes, soon was divided to the

Broad-Basing process and backward classes 73 Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party, the latter championing the interests of the Dalits.3 Thus these politics have brought out the inherent contradictions in the rural society to the fore. On the other hand, these politics taken together with the religious identity politics have tremendously politicised the countryside in the northern India. Since the economies of these states never picked up momentum even after liberalisation, these politics largely were fought for social recognition and state patronage/resources. Thus in these states democracy went ahead of the economy. The politicisation on democratic lines did not coincide with the simultaneous development of the economy; on the other hand, increasing politicisation against the backdrop of a stagnant economy often pitched strident politics against limited state resources. However, the major gains of these politics have been in terms of improvement of social status and recognition rather than uplifting the Dalit and Bahujan masses from the poverty of agrarian society. The emergence and consolidation of backward castes has been criticised on two grounds: one that the Broad-Basing process, while strengthening the democracy in the country, has socially been exclusionary. That the latter in the sense that the backward castes have been reluctant to share social and political power further down in the caste hierarchy with the Dalits. Pai goes a step further to say that increasingly the attacks on Dalits are coming from the middle castes who are the backward castes in different parts of the country; that there is an increasing contradiction between consolidation and strengthening of the backward castes on one hand and the emergence and Broad-Basing of Dalits on the other. The second criticism that the backward castes are exclusionary is made, and often with evidence, that the main opposition to the affirmative action for women in central legislature often comes from the backwards caste political parties and leaders. This opposition to affirmative action for women in parliament has often come from the Samajwadi Party of Uttar Pradesh and Rashtriya Janata Dal of Bihar. The argument of these political parties is that the affirmative action in parliament benefits only the elite/upper caste women. Therefore they have often demanded quota for backward caste women within the general quota for women as a category in parliament. Thus these two parties have often been criticised for not allowing the bill for women’s reservation in Parliament to pass and thereby have been accused of misogyny. On the other hand, the ideological strong point of backward caste politics in the north in particular been their electoral alliance with minority groups, particularly the Muslims, and thus they have systematically cultivated the pro-minority politics and secular arguments within the polity. Throughout the country the decentralisation of governance since the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the constitution too has strengthened the backward castes; this is particularly the case with rural decentralisation. When compared with urban decentralisation, the rural decentralisation has been a relatively successful phenomenon. And almost in all the states, the reservation of seats

74  Anil Kumar Vaddiraju in local bodies for backward castes has been according to their actual percentage in population. That means around 50% of the seats are reserved for these categories in addition to that of Dalits and women. Sometimes the backward class seats are also reserved for backward class women. This process has definitely provided levers of power at the grassroots to backward caste men and women. Grassroots political institutions thus have been strengthened and these in turn have strengthened the middle sections of the rural society. Though most of the time the reservations for women candidates are managed by their family male members while relegating women to ‘proxy’ candidates, in spite of this the reservations have definitely added to the strength of the backward castes as social group in Indian rural society. This combined with what we mentioned in the beginning as the structural decline of upper castes in the villages has provided ample space for numerically preponderant backward castes room to manoeuvre in local power structure. Despite of the internal contradictions among backward classes, it is undoubtedly true that whatever they have achieved in terms of self-respect, social status, political recognition and economic accommodation has been achieved because of their social movements. The contradictions between the upper backwards and lower backwards, between the backwards and Dalits have arisen at a later date. It is also true that being numerically strong and being land owning castes backward classes have largely been successful in making gains vis-à-vis the state: regional, national and local. It is also true that by mainstreaming this section the Indian society and state have provided the democracy a stable foundation. The limitations to this phenomenon however, is that on one hand the agricultural sector, which consists of the majority of the backward class sections, has been in decline since the liberalisation reforms. Second, the state has been either retreating from public sector education and employment or the space available within the state has been shrinking. This has been true since the market-led growth strategy adopted in India. This makes the further consolidation of the gains of the backward classes, at least in those states where there has not been much uplift of these sections, more difficult in the coming days. Second, the increasing assertions of the most backward classes (MBCs) and Dalits in the society makes the contestation over governmental education, public offices and public employment even more strident among these sections. Privatisation and unequal access to market means that if these contestations and contradictions are to be solved, either there has to be an increase the public expenditure on expanding government education, employment and public offices, or the state has to face and manage these conflicts peacefully. Jodhka (2012) has pointed out that in Indian society there are three definitive moments of social change: the first one belonged to the upper castes; the second one belonged to the backward classes; and the latest moment of

Broad-Basing process and backward classes 75 social change belongs to the arrival of Dalits on the stage of social transformation. This third moment, however, is fraught with enormous struggles and contestations among the backwards, between the backwards and Dalits and among the Dalits. Much like the accommodation of the backwards has taken time and has happened over time; the accommodation of all the sections of the Dalits along with all the sections of the backwards too may take time for the regional, national and local state. As we have mentioned in the abstract of this article three processes have contributed to the emergence of backward classes in Indian society: (a) agrarian change, a process whereby the ‘upper’ castes have left the agriculture and the erstwhile features of absentee landlordism and big-landownership have declined; therewith average farm size too has declined; (b) affirmative action by the state in accommodating the backward classes in government education, employment and public offices; and (c) social movements from the backward class sections. Of these the first two, namely agrarian change and affirmative action, seem to have run out of the potential to further accommodate backward classes and Dalits in the future. The further accommodation of backward classes in agriculture and state led education, employment and public offices requires revival and reinvention of (a) Indian agriculture and (b) the Indian state’s public policy. The current trends seem to running to the contrary. Agricultural decline has been a marked phenomenon of late. With the decline of agriculture most caste occupations, which are the backbone of backward castes, declined drastically. Second, along with this since the liberalisation, the shrinkage of space for affirmative action within the state is a matter of serious concern. Finally, the social movements for change that have led to the accommodation of the backward classes hitherto have to face increasing challenges of assertion of most backwards within and from the Dalits. Therefore the further mainstreaming of the latter appears to be increasingly contested in the current scenario with ‘upper’ castes/classes, and the established/arrived backward classes demonstrating marked resistance to the further sharing of their social, economic and political space/ privileges with lower backwards and Dalits. Equally important are the assertions of women in local, regional and national arenas. Thus what was quiescent society is increasingly a politically mobilised society today. In this context the misogyny of the backward classes is not going to provide them any moral ground in politics. Increasingly the assertions of women are raising serious questions of the male dominance and patriarchy. It is in this context of dwindling opportunities in agriculture, retreating state and challenges from below that the backward classes mainstreaming needs to take place today. In this context economy has to compete with democracy to accommodate the increasing assertions from below, for politics is likely to overtake economics in this scenario. All said, majority of the lower backward classes and most backward classes who come from various caste occupations and agriculture-allied activities still happen to be in the rural sector and happen to form the

76  Anil Kumar Vaddiraju majority of poor of the country. The reservations, even after including the 27% provided by the Mandal Commission Report implementation, still do not reach them. The reservations and quotas are often skimmed away either by the upper backward classes or the urban elite among them. In order to mainstream the lower backwards what are required are the revival of agriculture as well as provision of robust primary and secondary education. The question is inextricably linked with the uplift of the rural sector from the current downward trend.

Notes 1 When it comes to caste politics, Sudha Pai classifies the country’s regions into three: Dravidian South; Ambedkarite West; and Gandhian North. It is interesting to note that Pai also argues that in the Dravidian South and Ambedkarite West, the assertion of ‘lower’ castes predates independence and follows since then. In the context of this paper we follow similar classification of regions. 2 It is important to mention Tamil Nadu as forerunner in this phenomenon because the same process of emergence of backward castes, decline of the Congress Party and the assertion of regional and quasi-regional identities, has taken place in the northern India much later in the late 1970s and since the 1980s. Therefore it is also true that the reaction to the later introduction of affirmative action was different in different regions of India. 3 A. K. Verma recently pointed out that the backward caste politics in the north India is in decline and is shifting towards class politics. That is, towards the coming together of Bahujan and Dalit politics. And that there are attempts towards ‘homogenization of backward castes’; we do not know whether the latter phenomenon has been taking place in the north but certainly in the south India, the upper backwards have been pitted against lower or most backward castes, thus making a unified category of OBC much difficult to conceptualise. This is besides the regular conflicts that are reported in the south as well as from rest of the country between the backward castes and the Dalits.

5 The Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari

Introduction India has witnessed a perceptible change in the socio-economic spheres after the independence from the British Raj and more specifically since the early 1980s. The economic performance in the recent decades has been quite outstanding considering her past record and those of major economies. Despite strong economic growth and targeted programmes and policies to uplift the poor and marginalised groups, Indian polity and practitioners have continued to struggle with issues related to disparities in the level of income, consumption, access to education, health and general well-being of its subjects. For a large number of policy makers and economists in particular, these are essentially problems of economic underdevelopment. The discussion on issues related to social stratification and the abilities of economic approaches to supersede caste/ethnic/religious differences more or less remained confined to sociological and political debates involving realm of politics of social injustice and more recently in the growing arena of institutional economics. While constitutional provisions backed by political actions did contribute to ameliorate pervasive discriminations in public places and increased the participation of the marginalised in education and employment in public sector, the poor socio-economic indicators including concentration of poverty and widening gap of income and wealth among different socio-economic, ethnic and religious groups are still undoubtedly key challenges before India even today. And hence, there comes a continuum of political demands from marginalised groups for action for equality, social justice and share in economic growth and prosperity. The action for social equality and justice has been a long political demand from marginalised group of Scheduled Castes. The focus on the socioeconomic backwardness among Muslims, OBCs and women across occupations and regional characteristics (rural-urban), however, appears to be a much recent phenomenon. The failure of higher economic growth to deliver employment in the post-economic reforms period, shrinking role of the state, urban bias of the economic policies as well as increased gap in the conspicuous consumption and wealth across different social and religious

78  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari households are some of the contributing factors in expanding the focus on these groups. The results of recent census and national sample surveys on the status of consumption, employment, education and health across different social and religious groups did set a tone for rethinking on the growth process in state functionaries and attracted attention from a large section of academia on socio-economic backwardness among marginalised social as well as religious groups (Government of India 2006, 2007, 2014; Thorat 2011; Desai et al. 2010; Laksmi Devi 2016; UGC 2008). Among these the Sachar Committee (Government of India 2006) notably extensively covered the deplorable condition of Muslims in terms of high prevalence of illiteracy, dropout rate, low asset base and concentration of workforce in low-skilled informal jobs. Issues like limited access to public programmes, poor credit flow from financial institutions and low representation in public services also brought back the backwardness of Muslims to the forum of public discussion. Though previous studies provided some glimpses on socio-economic status of Muslims in India vis-à-vis other social and religious groups, they failed to give a coherent view of change over the period of time. The BroadBasing framework of Nadkarni (1997) would be a good starting point for capturing the change in the socio-economic status of Muslims vis-à-vis other social and religious groups in India. A perspective on some larger process of convergence or divergence is expected to help us to capture the change in social, economic and political status of a social group, as well as to know the direction of the process of ongoing changes – whether they are on the track of Broad-Basing or further marginalisation.

Education The societies with better access to education and higher level of educational attainments fare well on the scale of economic prosperity and human development. The access to education determines upward mobility and disparities between different classes, castes and religious groups. Though India’s progress report is commendable in providing access to education, the extent of disparities in the educational attainments found across social and religious groups is still a matter of public concern. Despite of public provisioning of schools and colleges, the educational status of Muslims is not much different than that India’s most socially marginalised groups – Schedule Castes (SCs) and Schedule Tribes (STs). Muslims in terms of literacy rates fare better than SCs and STs; their literacy rates are lowest among all religious groups and their representation in higher education is even worse than those of SCs and STs (Tables 5.1 and 5.2). Beyond the glittery of growing number of literate population, what we have often missed in the presentation is the very concept used for calculating number of literates.1 The concept, which bases on self-declaration a person whether or not they can read or write, has no objective measure to test the literacy status of the respondent and many

Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims 79 are more proximate to the illiterates rather than to literates. For instance, the barely literate population (literate but without even primary education) within age group 7 and older still constitutes a significant proportion of the total literate population (29.4% in 2001 and 23.8% in 2011) of India (Table 5.1). If we remove the barely literates from the literate population, the resultant (effective) rates of literacy2 take out much of the sheen from officially declared literacy rates (Figure 5.1). As far as the proportion of barely literate population and gap between effective rates of literacy and officially used literacy among Muslims and socially marginalised groups are concerned, the picture is certainly not encouraging (Table 5.1 and Figure 5.1). Barring STs, Muslims have highest proportion of barely literate population (30.1%) in the country. In terms of access to higher education, Muslims (3.8%) remain even behind STs (3.9%) and SCs (5.7%). Moreover, the state of elementary education in India is not impressive according to the Annual Status of Education Reports (ASER). The situation of secondary and higher secondary school education (between ages 14–18), is not much different. Almost 23.4% of youth struggled to read standard II level Table 5.1 Literates, barely literates and access to higher education across socioreligious groups in India, 2001 and 2011 Religious Literacy rates* (%) group

2001 ST# SC# Muslim Hindu Sikh Buddhist Christian Jain All 2011 ST# SC# Muslim Hindu Sikh Buddhist Christian Jain All

Barely literates** (%)

Higher education*** (%)










47.1 54.7 59.1 65.1 69.4 72.7 80.3 94.1 64.8 59.0 66.1 68.5 73.3 75.4 81.3 84.5 94.9 73.0

59.2 66.6 67.6 76.2 75.2 83.1 84.4 97.4 75.3 68.5 75.2 74.7 81.7 80.0 88.3 87.7 96.8 80.9

34.8 41.9 50.1 53.2 63.1 61.7 76.2 90.6 53.7 49.3 56.5 62.0 64.3 70.3 74.0 81.5 92.9 64.6

44.1 36.7 36.3 28.9 20.7 29.9 23.2 13.7 29.4 34.3 27.3 30.1 23.1 15.1 24.8 20.8 12.3 23.8

41.7 41.7 34.3 26.9 20.5 28.3 22.8 12.2 27.5 32.6 25.4 29.2 21.6 15.3 23.5 20.3 11.2 22.5

48.3 48.3 39.3 32.0 20.9 32.2 23.7 15.4 32.3 36.8 29.8 31.2 25.2 14.8 26.3 21.3 13.5 25.6

2.7 3.5 2.4 5.0 5.4 4.4 8.7 21.2 4.8 3.9 5.7 3.8 7.7 8.1 7.6 12.8 29.6 7.3

3.2 1.8 4.3 2.0 3.3 1.3 6.8 3.2 5.9 4.9 6.3 2.4 9.5 8.0 24.8 17.3 6.4 3.1 4.6 3.0 6.6 4.3 4.8 2.8 9.5 5.7 8.0 8.3 9.3 5.7 13.2 12.4 32.4 26.6 9.0 5.6

Note: * Proportion of literates to population age 7 and above; ** proportion of literates to total literate population within age 7 and above; *** proportion of population in post higher secondary education, incl. diploma in technical and non-technical courses to total literate population. #Social categories cutting across religious groups. Source: Authors estimates based on data from Census 2001 and 2011, Government of India

80  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari Table 5.2 Representation of different social and minority students and staffs in higher education in India: 2011–12 (%)  


Teaching staff

Non-teaching staff

Muslim Other minority ST SC OBC

4.5 2.1 4.2 12.5 31.7

3.1 3.6 2.0 7.3 25.7

3.3 2.8 3.6 12.6 26.0


84.5 66.9




73.3 56.3



59.0 38.7

60.0 40.0



Literacy Rates


Effective Literacy Rates




Source: Government of India (2013)

20.0 0.0









Figure 5.1 Gap between literacy and effective literacy rates across socio-religious groups in India 2011 Source: Authors’ representation based on Census 2011, Government of India

text (ASER 2017). Only 34.3% could recognise the numbers 10 to 99, 22.6% did subtraction and 43.1% simple division. Given this state of education on the general group of pupils, the situation of those from Muslims and socially marginalised groups is likely to be even more grave. The direct outcomes of these factors are not only reflected in their lower enrolment ratios and high dropout rates, but also turning towards madrasa3 education providing free education, food and other amenities (Government of India 2006; Alam 2006). It is startling to note that almost 60% of urban Muslim children do not attend any school, be it government, private or a madrasa. Though madrasa education is often blamed for lower attainment education attainment, its outreach is limited to only 4% of Muslim students who have reported to be attending madrasas. The regions with poor socio-economic indicators show higher proportion of Muslims students attending madrasas than those having better

Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims 81 socio-economic indicators. For example, in case of Maharashtra, where the state fares well on socio-economic indicators, only 2.3% Muslim children attended madrasas (Government of Maharashtra 2013). Nature of occupation and tenure, level of education and skill, asset holding, poverty, role of gender and place of residence determine the socio-economic status of socio-cultural identities. Some of the recent studies (UGC 2008; Government of India 2014), for example, underscore this. Though the disparities of education present a grim picture, the direction of change is positive and most desirable. In terms of access to general education, there has been a significant improvement literacy rate of Muslims from 6.2% in 1911 to 68.5% in 2011. Despite significant gaps, literacy rates across socio-religious groups of Muslims, Hindu, Christians and Jains and regions have shown tendency of convergence towards the national average. It needs to be recognised that, a very small fraction of population (5.4% 1901; 18.3% in 1951) in the colonial period had access to formal education. The average literacy rate in 1911 was abysmally low for both Muslims (6.2%) and Hindu (7.1%), with tremendous heterogeneity across provinces and between social groups and gender (Chaudhary and Rubin 2011). Prior to 1911, barely 1% of women had access to formal education (Figure 5.2) and that was largely women from the most privileged class and caste of the Indian society. Although British government made some efforts to increase their participation, it was only after independence that there was a significant break in the trend of female literacy. A break in the trend of gender literacy gap particularly since 1981 is quite noticeable and indicates special emphasis on women’s education across socio-and religious groups. There has been also significant improvement in the literacy rates across the regions, albeit with very small change in the regional disparities. For







Gender Gap

73.0 64.8

70.0 60.0




30.0 20.0 10.0














5.0 0.0

0.0 1901* 1911* 1921* 1931* 1941* 1951







Figure 5.2 Literacy and gender gap in literacy rates in India Source: Authors’ representation based on Primary Census Abstract 2011, Government of India

82  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari example, on average Muslim males had better literacy rates in Central and Madras Provinces (17%) as against males of Hindus (6% and 14%, respectively). These regions continue to exhibit same kind of disparities in the literacy even after a century (Appendix Table 5A.1). The literacy rates of Muslim males in the recent period in Central and Madras Provinces (states like Maharashtra (83.6%), Madhya Pradesh (81.8%) and Chhattisgarh (90.3%), Kerala (93.3%), Tamil Nadu (88.2%), Andhra Pradesh (79.9%)) are as compared to literacy of Muslim males in Northern, Eastern and North East States of India as well as comparable with males of other religious groups. The literacy rates of Muslim males in Bihar, Orissa and United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh) are still lower as compared to Muslim males from the rest of India. However, state policies towards socially marginalised groups in the post-independence period appear to have made a significant mark and led to significant convergence in the literacy rates of SCs/STs and Muslims and within males and females of these groups. There has been a significant improvement in female literacy rates among Muslims and SCs, STs and OBCs. The religious identity of Muslims although appears to be monolithic at Islamic teaching, it also equally suffers from social and economic divisions, either sect-based or linguistic ethnicities. The expansion in the scheduled list of castes (SCs, STs and OBCs), over the years indicate socioeconomically backward groups cut across the religious groups and backwardness are subsets of social groups for whom various forms of affirmative policy instruments have been placed under the constitutional provisions in India (Srivastava and Sinha 2008). A significant proportion of OBCs is found among the Muslims. Similarly, we can also notice some noticeable proportion of SCs and STs in the group. It is no wonder why within religious groups, Muslims lag behind the most and the condition of women, poor SC, STs and OBCs among Muslims is worse. In terms of gross enrolment ratio (GER) and educational attainment in higher education, each socio-religious group shows a consistent improvement in their performances over the period of time (Table 5.3). The disparities in the both GER and attainment ratio between religious/social groups, however, remain key challenges. Despite some improvement in GER and educational attainment, performance of Muslims has been quite poor in accessing higher education and bridging persisting gap between them and other religious groups. In terms of GER, the disparities between Muslims other religious groups have seen some reduction, the reverse is, however, noted in case of attainment of higher education. Among the social groups, the most marginalised sections (SCs and STs) show tremendous performance in bridging significant amount disparities in both GER and educational attainment. The Broad-Basing policies on social inclusion, however, seem to have helped in reducing some level of disparities. The task of recognition of multiple natures of disparities in enrolment in the 11th five-year plan and

Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims 83 Table 5.3 Gross enrolment ratios and higher education attainment ratios by religious and social groups in India: 1983 to 2014 Period

Religious groups

Social groups

Muslims Hindus Christians Others



OBCs Others#

Gross enrolment ratio (higher education)* 1983–84 4.1 7.5 20.0 10.6 (1.83) (4.88) (2.59) 1993–94 4.6 9.1 16.2 10.5 (1.98) (3.52) (2.28) 2004–05 7.6 13.2 20.8 14.7 (1.74) (2.74) (1.93) 2014$ 8.0 14.0 18.0 14.8 (1.75) (2.25) (1.81)

3.7 (0.90) 3.8 (0.83) 7.9 (1.04) 10.0 (1.25)

2.4 (0.59) 3.4 (0.74) 7.3 (0.96) 7.0 (0.88)

Education attainment (higher education)** 2.6 3.9 4.4 1983–84 1.4 (1.86) (2.79) (3.14) 1993–94 2.0 4.3 6.1 5.7 (2.15) (3.05) (2.85) 2004–05 3.0 6.2 7.7 8.8 (2.07) (2.57) (2.93) 2009–10 3.8 8.6 12.5 10.7 (2.26) (3.29) (2.82) 2014$ – – – –

0.6 (0.43) 1.1 (0.55) 2.4 (0.80) 3.9 (1.03) 4.2

0.6 (0.43) 1.0 (0.50) 1.9 (0.63) 2.8 (0.74) 3.7

9.0 (2.20) – 10.6 (2.30) 10.1 14.6 (1.33) (1.92) 13.0 18.0 (1.63) (2.25) 

– – – 6.8

2.6 (1.86) 4.2 (2.10) 5.9 (1.97) 8.2 (2.16) 15.1

Note: Figures in parenthesis are ratios to Muslims GER; *Age group 18–23; ** age group between 15–64; # non-SC/STs. Source: Based on Azam and Bloom(2009) and $Government of India (2016), Education in India, NSS 71st Round, Report No. 575, New Delhi: NSSO, Pages, 53, A-105 and A-107

policy measures to enhance their access to higher education remains to be achieved (Thorat 2008).

Employment, income and asset distribution Employment, income and distribution of assets are some of the key indicators for measuring the socio-economic status of general population and their economic progress over period of time. Although employment and income strongly influence distribution of wealth and their socio-economic status, the very distribution of assets/wealth itself operates in way that it starts determining the nature of employment, income-generating capacities and their socio-economic status. In the Indian context, the occupation-based caste and class structures prominently feature themselves at the foundation of the bilateral relationship between these variables and play significant role in determination socio-economic disparities and formation of different asset clusters across socio-religious groups. Households with better employment and income sources generate more assets than their counterparts. The

84  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari accumulation of wealth further generates or increases flow of income and enhances their chances of better education, health, and socio and political capital across and within the progeny of these asset holders. In the closed society, the distribution of assets is often interwoven with caste, ethnicity or socio-religious considerations, and thereby runs a great risk of leading to perpetual socio-economic inequality and disparities across groups. As far as the distribution of assets (share of assets) to their population share is concerned, the situation appears to be alarming in India. Table 5.4 clearly indicates growing inequality in assets distribution and marginalisation of Muslims, SCs, and STs. The proportion of Muslims among the median, rich and super-rich also remains abysmal low (Table 5.5). Most of class groups from these belong to upper-caste groups followed by OBCs excluding Muslims (NCAER– University of Maryland jointly done IHDS Survey 2011–12). Interestingly, the middle class forms only 5–6% of total population and there has not been much increase in the proportion of the middle class during 2001–02 to 2011–12. According to their estimates, about 53 households earned less than Rs. 5,000 per month (at 2001–02 prices), 5.9% of middle-class households earned Rs. 22,000 to 1.1 lakh per month in 2011–12. The earning differences between Muslims and non-Muslims have increased largely due to education endowments differences (Bhumika and Chakraborty 2010). India has been a historically agrarian society with a large number depending on agriculture and allied sectors. Compared to other socio-religious groups, Muslims are most diversified workforce. Almost half of its working age population (workforce aged 16–64) is engaged in the primary sector (51.47% in 2009–10), followed by the secondary/industrial sector (25.95%) and the tertiary sector (22.58%) in rural areas (Basant 2012). Table 5.4 Inequality in assets distribution across socio-religious groups in India   Social group

Religious groups

SC ST OBC Others Others Buddhist Muslim Hindu Christian Sikh Jain




0.40 0.40 0.83 1.86 0.52 0.57 0.57 1.00 1.67 3.32 7.09

0.45 0.49 0.90 1.59 0.81 0.58 0.65 0.99 1.58 3.27 3.52

−0.05 −0.09 −0.07 0.27 −0.29 −0.01 −0.08 0.01 0.09 0.05 3.57

Note: Inequality in asset distribution represents ratio of share of (total value of) asset of a group to its share in total population calculated from 59th and 70th Rounds of NSS on All India Debt and Investment Surveys. Source: Based on Himanshu (2018)

Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims 85 Table 5.5 Percentage distribution of households in socio-religious groups in India, 2011–12 SC/ST Muslims OBC (excl Muslims) General (excl Muslims) Urban Super-rich Rich Median Rural Super-rich Rich Median

2.6 7.2 15.8 10.4 16.7 31.3

2.1 5.6 13.3 7.0 8.8 12.3

22.1 26.4 36.8 42.7 39.1 40.4

73.2 60.8 34.2 39.9 35.5 16.1

Note: Median class = 41st to 60th percentile households; Rich class = 91st to 99th; Super rich = 100th percentile; ranked according to per capita consumption expenditure. Source: India Human Development Survey II (2011–12); table taken from Kundu and Rathore (2016)

In urban areas, the tertiary (52.57%) and the secondary/industrial (43.53%) remain the predominant source of employment (ibid). A large number of Muslim youths are either self-employed or casual labourers (Table 5.6). The proportion of Muslim youths in regular jobs is higher than SCs and STs, but lower than other socio-religious groups (18.9% non-OBC Muslim as against 37%). During 2004–05 to 2011–12, Muslim OBCs youth have witnessed significant reduction in self-employment (from 60.5% to 47.6%) with a corresponding increase in regular (13.1% to 20.2%) and casual employment (26.4% to 32.2%). There has a marginal decline in the self-employment of non-OBC Muslims, without any increase casual labour. Relative education seems to have helped to get non-OBC Muslim youth in regular jobs. The upper caste groups other than Muslims remain the major beneficiaries of higher economic growth. During 2004–05 to 2011–12, the group witnessed significant growth in regular jobs (from 23.7% to 37%) with corresponding fall in casual labour (15.5% to 14.1% and selfemployment (60.8% to 48.9%). Muslims have the lowest share of the overall working population among all the religious groups. In 2011, their worker population ratio stood at 32.6% as against 41% of Hindus, 41.9% of Christians, 43.1% of Buddhists, 36.3% of Sikhs and 35.5% of Jains. Their participation in government and formal private sector is quite low. The government sector employed 23.7% from Muslims (as against 35.2% from Hindu; 39.4% from SCs/STs from Hindu and 35.8% from other minorities), whereas their share in the public and large private sectors was merely 6.5% (against 13.9% of Hindus and 12.8% from other minorities) in 2004–05 (Government of India 2006). The participation of Muslims in formal employment is far lower in poor states like Haryana, Bihar and West Bengal (less than 10%) as compared to relatively better-off states like Kerala and Maharashtra (more than 20%). Notably, the recent results of NCEAR-IHDS surveys indicate that the socioeconomic condition of Muslims is better in South Indian states as compared

86  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari Table 5.6 Youth employment by type across socio-religious groups in India

All Others



2011–12 2004–05 1993–94 2011–12$$ 2004–05$$ 2011–12$ 2004–05$ 1993–94 2011–12** 2004–05** 2011–12* 2004–05* 1993–94 2011–12 2004–05 1993–94 2011–12 2004–05 1993–94



Casual labour

46.1 52.8 52.9 48.9 60.8 49.4 57.3 59.5 52.8 54.8 47.6 60.5 57.0 32.4 36.9 34.0 50.5 49.1 47.9

21.2 14.4 11.1 37.0 23.7 20.1 13.2 13.4 18.9 15.2 20.2 13.1 11.9 17.7 12.2 7.8 8.0 5.7 4.6

32.7 32.8 35.9 14.1 15.5 30.6 29.6 27.2 28.3 30.0 32.2 26.4 31.2 49.8 50.9 58.3 41.5 45.2 47.5

Note: * Muslim OBCs, ** Muslims Others; $OBCs (excl. Muslims), $$Others (excl. Muslims) Source: Based on Mamgain and Tiwari (2015)

to rest of India due to higher participation in formal sector and affirmative policies of the states in employment and education. For example, the extension of reservation to Muslims under OBC quota has helped in increasing their representation in higher education as well as in formal sector employment in Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana (Jaffrelot and Kalaiyarasan 2018). The lower work participation of Muslim women is a significant factor behind Muslims lagging in employment. The lack of formal education also figures out be a major reason for disproportionate concentration of Muslim women working within their homes (70% against 51% of Hindu). It is important to note that education in Muslim community has largely remained acquisition of traditional skill within the closed framework of occupation-based social order. In the most of self-employed activities, it is not surprising to notice abysmally low performance in achieving rapid growth in literacy and higher education. The present economic order not only demands high-skilled manpower, it also requires a minimum level of higher/technical education that enables adjustment with technological disruptions. A significant population with traditional or low-value skill jobs is the one facing tremendous risk from technological disruptions. The predominance of informal economy with concentration of low-value skilled jobs, lower representation in higher education and religious orientation to modern education and gender biases do have a significant influence on the employability of a large section of poor Muslims. Moreover, the caste

Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims 87 specificity associated socio-economic backwardness, quality of education and educational infrastructure, lack of conducive environment at home and public learning places, and perception and experience of biases in opportunities in employment do exert influence on their decision towards employment preferences. Apart from these, the role of poor financial condition and market imperfections also contribute to lower workforce participation and lower share of Muslims in regular employment.

Poverty and inequality The reflection on the poverty and changes therein could be a good way to know relative economic deprivation status of Muslims vis-à-vis other socioreligious groups. From the analysis in earlier sections, it is amply clear that Muslims stand in the lower ladder of education, employment, income and asset holdings. In this context, the questions of poverty that get reflected through their ability to spend on bare minimum level of consumption would be a good continuum in their overall socio-economic status relative to other socio-religious groups and general efforts of the state and these groups to bring them out of socio-economic deprivations. Table 5.7 clearly indicates Table 5.7 Percentage population below official poverty line among religious groups in India Period Rural

1993–94 2004–05 2009–10 2011–12 ∆ (1993–94 to 2011–12) ∆ (2004–05 to 2011–12) ∆ (2009–10 to 2011–12) Urban 1993–94 2004–05 2009–10 2011–12 ∆ (1993–94 to 2011–12) ∆ (2004–05 to 2011–12) ∆ (2009–10 to 2011–12) R+U 1993–94 2004–05 2009–10 2011–12 ∆ (1993–94 to 2011–12) ∆ (2004–05 to 2011–12) ∆ (2009–10 to 2011–12)

Hindu Muslim Christian Sikh



50.5 42.1 33.5 25.6 24.9 16.5 7.9 29.7 23.1 18.7 12.1 17.6 11.0 6.6 45.6 37.5 29.7 21.9 23.7 15.6 7.8

24.3 10.6 1.2 0.7 23.6 9.9 0.5 6.0 2.7 1.7 3.9 2.1 -1.2 -2.2 10.5 4.6 1.5 3.3 7.2 1.3 -1.8

50.3 41.8 33.3 25.4 24.9 16.4 7.9 31.9 25.7 20.9 13.7 18.2 12.0 7.2 45.7 37.7 29.9 22.0 23.7 15.7 7.9

53.6 44.5 36.2 26.9 26.7 17.6 9.3 46.6 41.8 33.9 22.7 23.9 19.1 11.2 51.2 43.6 35.4 25.4 25.8 18.2 10.0

Note: Estimates are based on Tendulkar methodology. Source: Based on Panagariya and More (2013)

44.9 28.7 23.8 22.2 22.7 6.5 1.6 22.9 14.1 12.9 5.5 17.4 8.6 7.4 38.5 24.5 20.5 16.4 22.1 8.1 4.1

19.8 21.7 11.9 6.2 13.6 15.5 5.7 18.6 9.5 14.5 5.0 13.6 4.5 9.5 19.6 18.9 12.5 5.9 13.7 13.0 6.6

88  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari that Muslims have higher percentage poor in both rural and urban areas compared to that of other religious groups. However, the extent of poverty noticed among Muslims vis-à-vis those of other religious groups is quite high in urban areas (22.7% in 2011–12). Most of these poor are either concentrated in casual labour (35.9%) or self-employed (23.6%) activities (Thorat and Ahmad 2015). In rural areas too, the concentration of poverty among Muslim are found largely among casual labourers working both in agriculture (44.2%) and non-agricultural activities (34%) followed by selfemployed in agriculture (23.8%) and non-agricultural (21.9%) activities (ibid.). Interestingly, the rate of decline in the poverty during 2004–05 to 2011– 12 has been quite startling for the following reasons. First, a significant decline in the poverty during the period is attributed to rapid economic growth (Panagariya and More 2013), despite deceleration in the rate of growth of the India economy, particularly since 2008–09. The extent of poverty reduction observed during 2009–10 to 2011–12 in many states (Appendix Table 5A.2) and all India level, therefore, casts suspicion. Second, even if year 2009–10 is discounted for abnormal year on the account of droughts in some states, it underlines that poverty ratios of Muslims are quite sensitive to agrarian conditions and performance of informal sector. The substantial reduction seen in the poverty ratios of Muslims in states like Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Rajasthan during 2009–10 to 2011–12, in fact, needs cautious reading. The extent of fluctuations exhibited in the poverty ratios in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Delhi make a strong point. The income inequality among Muslims and ST and SCs has reduced, but same is not true when compared with other socio-religious groups with regional/income differentials. In fact, within Muslims significant disparities in per capita income can be noticed. The per capita income in Muslims in Kerala is more than double that of Muslims in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. As compared to Hindus, Muslims are poorer and gap between per capita income and Hindus and Muslims remains smaller in poor states and higher in relatively better off states. For example, per capita income of Hindus is 9% to 10% higher than that of Muslims in UP and Bihar, whereas in Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka it ranges between 25% and 35%. The gap between per capita income remains at higher level in West Bengal and Gujarat (37%) and Haryana (almost 67%). In most of the states, per capita income of Muslims is lower than Hindus and other minorities groups. Moreover, except Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the per capita income of Muslims is even lower than Hindu Dalits (Jaffrelot and Kalaiyarasan 2018). In fact, the socio-economic condition of Muslims has gotten worse during 2004–05 to 2011–12. The results of both surveys indicate that their status vis-à-vis Hindu Dalits have declined in most of the

Broad-Basing process in India and Muslims 89 states except Uttar Pradesh, where the ratio of per capita income of Muslim to Hindu Dalits has witnessed some improvement from 1.24 in 2004–15 to 1.32 in 2011–12. The decline in ratios of their per capita income vis-à-vis Hindu Dalits is quite significant in Kerala (1.36 to 0.82), Haryana (0.85 to 0.68), Gujarat (0.76 to 0.69), Maharashtra (0.90 to 0.87), Bihar (1.34 to 1.15), West Bengal (0.81 to 0.79) and Karnataka (1.07 to 1.01) in the corresponding period.

Concluding remarks The issues related to socioeconomic backwardness among Muslims and other socio-religious groups is well documented by the Government of India (2006, 2007). Our analysis indicates the convergence in literacy rates of SCs, STs, and Muslims towards the national average over the years. As far as access to general education, employment and poverty is concerned BroadBasing process can be seen across the socio-religious groups and regions and sub-regions in India. However, the rate at each socio-religious groups or certain regions has made progress in accessing general and higher education, share of employment in regular/salaried job, disparities in per capita income or poverty is still not satisfactory enough. Increase in access to higher education, regular salaried jobs, income and consumption certainly have had impact on reduction in poverty and bridging gaps in disparities at some level across socio-economic groups. But these have not stopped the growing inequality particularly among marginalised section and upper caste/relatively better of socio-religious groups. The share of asset to their share of population of Muslims, SCs, STs and OBCs has witnessed significant decline vis-à-vis Jains, Sikhs, Christians and upper-caste Hindus in recent decades. The predominance of informal economy with concentration of low value skilled jobs, lower representation in higher education and religious orientation to modern education, and gender biases are still major stumbling blocks in employability poor Muslims. Despite the best efforts of the Government of India (2006, 2007) highlighting socio-economic deprivation among Muslims vis-à-vis to other socio-religious groups, there has been not marked changes in socio-economic condition of Muslims on most of the indicators. Considering diverse groups within Muslims, it is recommended that there is need to bring renowned focus on major issues faced by poor and aspirational class among Muslims as well as Muslim women lagging behind on almost all the indicators. The report of NITI Aayog on aspirational district may consider communities as their unit of policies for better targeting backwardness among the Muslims, since 11 of the 20 districts identified under these backward districts are Muslim-dominated regions. To increase the participation of Muslim women in education and employment, positive affirmative policies could be adopted in their case too.

Andhra Pradesh Karnataka Tamil Nadu Kerala Pondicherry ANI Lakshadweep Rajasthan Gujarat Maharashtra Goa DNH Daman & Diu Haryana Punjab Uttaranchal Uttar Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir Himachal Pradesh Chandigarh Delhi


8.08 7.89 4.23 8.87 0.08 0.03 0.06 6.22 5.85 12.97 0.12 0.01 0.02 1.78 0.54 1.41 38.48 8.57 0.15 0.05 2.16

4.69 4.58 2.46 5.15 0.04 0.02 0.04 3.61 3.39 7.53 0.07 0.01 0.01 1.03 0.31 0.82 22.34 4.97 0.09 0.03 1.25

7.05 6.77 3.71 7.60 0.07 0.03 0.06 5.08 5.01 11.11 0.11 0.01 0.02 1.39 0.46 1.17 31.90 7.02 0.13 0.04 1.83

5.19 5.34 3.27 7.09 0.06 0.03 0.05 3.19 4.05 9.29 0.09 0.01 0.01 0.74 0.28 0.74 18.75 4.29 0.09 0.03 1.38

Literate 73.6 78.9 88.2 93.3 91.7 91.5 91.7 62.7 80.8 83.6 84.7 86.6 85.9 53.4 61.9 63.2 58.8 61.0 67.5 74.7 75.6

79.9 83.5 92.8 95.9 95.5 92.9 95.6 75.4 87.1 87.6 87.6 90.0 89.2 67.6 67.4 70.5 66.4 71.0 75.4 79.1 80.4



Age 7& above


% to total*

Literacy rates

Muslims population (in millions)

Table 5A.1  Population and state of literacy and higher education among Muslims across states 2011






67.1 74.1 83.7 91.1 88.2 89.9 87.9 49.3 74.1 79.1 81.5 81.3 80.9 37.4 55.4 55.1 50.6 50.5 58.2 68.3 69.8


7.4 5.7 9.0 6.0 11.1 10.8 5.4 2.4 3.2 5.4 6.6 5.4 4.7 1.9 3.0 3.2 3.1 5.9 2.9 4.9 7.1


9.6 7.2 12.2 6.7 15.5 10.3 6.8 3.3 4.2 6.4 7.0 5.8 5.4 2.7 3.2 3.5 3.6 7.4 3.3 5.2 7.9


% of higher education**

5.1 4.1 5.8 5.4 7.2 11.4 4.0 1.4 2.2 4.4 6.2 4.9 3.6 1.1 2.7 2.8 2.6 4.4 2.4 4.5 6.1



Bihar Jharkhand West Bengal Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh Orissa Tripura Mizoram Sikkim Manipur Arunachal Pradesh Assam Nagaland Meghalaya India

17.56 4.79 24.66 4.78 0.52 0.91 0.32 0.02 0.01 0.24 0.03 10.68 0.05 0.13 172.3

10.19 2.78 14.31 2.77 0.30 0.53 0.18 0.01 0.01 0.14 0.02 6.20 0.03 0.08 100.0

14.01 3.89 20.97 4.04 0.44 0.79 0.27 0.01 0.01 0.20 0.02 8.61 0.04 0.10 143.95

7.89 2.58 14.42 3.03 0.38 0.63 0.22 0.01 0.01 0.13 0.02 5.33 0.02 0.06 98.66

56.3 66.2 68.7 74.9 84.5 80.0 83.2 77.9 76.5 67.8 67.7 61.9 57.9 54.0 68.5

Source: Authors’ estimates based on data from Census 2011, Government of India

Note: * Figures are percentage to total population of all religious groups; ** to age 7 and above population.

North East

63.8 75.4 72.5 81.8 90.3 85.4 87.3 82.4 78.9 80.3 73.5 66.7 64.3 58.1 74.7

48.4 56.4 64.8 67.6 78.5 74.3 78.8 68.7 71.5 55.2 59.4 56.9 48.2 49.5 62.0

2.5 3.4 1.8 4.5 8.1 4.3 1.5 2.9 4.8 4.6 4.2 1.8 2.1 2.4 3.8

3.5 4.6 2.6 5.1 9.3 5.8 2.4 2.9 5.2 7.1 5.1 2.5 2.6 3.2 4.8

1.4 2.2 1.0 3.8 6.8 2.6 0.7 3.1 4.0 2.0 2.9 1.0 1.5 1.6 2.8

92  Khalil Shaha and S. Yogeshwari Table 5A.2  Percentage Muslim population below poverty across states

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Himachal Pradesh Tamil Nadu Kerala Jammu and Kashmir Andhra Pradesh Punjab Gujarat Haryana Rajasthan Orissa Uttaranchal Maharashtra Chhattisgarh West Bengal Karnataka Madhya Pradesh Delhi Uttar Pradesh Bihar Assam Jharkhand India





41.5 36.1 39.0 55.0 44.4 40.4 42.7 62.3 48.1 52.6 46.3 50.0 11.5 51.2 51.5 39.0 31.3 50.8 69.6 62.8 68.3 51.2

25.2 18.8 25.9 14.6 30.3 32.3 36.5 44.6 36.9 38.6 43.8 45.6 48.6 48.7 38.3 46.7 21.3 47.4 61.0 50.3 51.4 43.6

28.8 12.7 15.2 11.4 22.6 11.6 37.6 33.8 31.6 38.0 28.0 28.5 15.7 34.4 20.6 27.6 14.1 46.1 52.2 53.6 49.0 35.4

2.0 3.3 6.8 8.2 8.3 9.5 11.4 12.6 14.0 18.9 19.0 19.1 23.2 25.8 26.9 29.9 31.6 34.9 35.6 39.6 44.2 25.4

Source: Panagariya and More (2013)

Notes 1 A person, whether or not they received any formal education, who can read and write with understanding in any language is treated as literate in the census. 2 Effective rate of literacy is defined as proportion of literate population within age 7 and above less literate without education level and pre-primary education to total population age 7 and above. 3 It is important to note that the nature of madrasa is not unique across regions. Madrasas attached to mosque impart basic knowledge of Islam (largely reading) by a religious teacher, also called Maktab, have wide outreach. Students attending such madrasas may also attend primary/pre-primary schools in their neighbourhood (Government of India 2006). Some madrasas have better infrastructure and staffs offer secondary, higher secondary or higher education may be operating under State Boards/Islamic organisations.

6 The Broad-Basing process in India and women Lavanya Suresh

Introduction In an article published in the Economic & Political Weekly, Nadkarni (1997) set out to define and explain a phenomenon which he termed BroadBasing. It includes the concept of inclusiveness and empowerment. It is a ‘fight with the marginalisation process’. One section of society that has constantly had to fight for their rights are women. Gender justice ‘means a fair treatment of women without discrimination against them, recognizing their rights as human beings and avoiding inequality in law and customs’ (Nadkarni 2014: 271). In this era of development and liberal ideals, one would assume that the idea that women and men are equal is a given. However, one reason this is such a hard-fought battle that has still not been won is that gender is culturally and socially constructed. The way gender is articulated is determined by a patriarchy system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women. The use of the term ‘social structure’ is important, as it rejects biological determinism and the notion that every individual man is in a dominant position and every individual woman in a subordinate one (Walby 1989: 214). In contemporary India, patriarchy exists through articulation of class and caste structure that intersect to create further forms of discrimination. I do not therefore imply any homogenous understanding of gender as a single category. At an empirical level when we apply the concept of Broad-Basing to understand how women fare in India, we can study this phenomenon examining the structures through which patriarchy functions: the patriarchal mode of production, patriarchal relation in paid work, patriarchal relations in the state, male violence, patriarchal relations in sexuality and patriarchal relations in cultural institutions, such as religion and education (Walby 1989: 214). This chapter does not attempt to cover all aspects of these factors, as it would be a task for a much larger project. However, we shall use these categories to study contemporary examples as to how patriarchal systems function in India today and then ask ourselves the question of whether the process of Broad-Basing has occurred among women in India.

94  Lavanya Suresh

Patriarchal mode of production and paid work Patriarchy predates capitalism, but in a capitalist market, both housework and wage labour are important sites of women’s exploitation by men (Hartmann 1979). The persistent disadvantage faced by women in the labour market include among others, their concentration in informal sector (agricultural activities) especially in developing countries of the world, their predominance in low-paying occupations and lower wages compared to men (Morton et al. 2014). Employers higher women when they want cheap labour as they are paid less than men. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Global Wage Report 2014–15 shows that in general, women’s average wages are between 4% to 36% less than men’s (Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch (INWORK) 2014). In India, as per National Sample Survey (NSS) 2011–12, the average wage/salary received per day by regular wage / salaried employees of age 15–59 years for females (rural: Rs. 201.56, urban: Rs. 366.15) is lower than that of males (rural: Rs. 322.28, urban: Rs. 469.87) in both rural and urban areas and the gap is more in rural areas. Irrespective of education level and residence (rural Urban), the average per day wage/salary earned by a female is less than that by a male (Women and Men in India, 2016, p. 60). Therefore, there is convincing evidence that women are still a disproportionately disadvantaged group in the typically man-made world of work. A study by Duraisamy et al. (2014) used data from the employment and unemployment surveys of the National Sample Survey (NSS) for the years 1983 (38th round), 1993–94 (50th round), 2003–04 (61st round) and 2011–12 (68th round) and found (Duraisamy and Duraisamy 2014: 4) that labour force participation of women in India has been on a decline as can be seen in Table 6.1. This trend has continued in 2017, wherein jobs for men increased by 0.9 million, and 2.4 million women left the workforce, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Within South Asia in 2013, India had the lowest rate of female employment after Afghanistan and Pakistan. A comparative picture is presented in Table 6.2. In the two decades preceding 2013, female labour force participation in India fell from 34.8% to 27%, according to an April 2017 World Bank report (Bhandare 2017). It would be simple to look for variables like education levels of women as an explanatory variable, but the picture is much more complex. In a patriarchal society, women have to ask for permission from a father, mother, brother or husband to seek a job. Many women have to compromise on their career for the sake of marriage, as men do not want working wives and if they do, women have to find a job that enables her to support her husband and maintain a family. Being expected to have children and raise them, as well as being responsible for household work, are other serious constraints. Women either don’t accept jobs or quit because of ‘family reasons’, found a 2016 study of young, single women (Bhandare 2017).

The Broad-Basing process in India and women 95 Table 6.1 Labour force participation in India by gender, 1983 to 2011–12 Year



Both Sexes

Female/male ratio

1983 1993–94 2003–04 2011–12

55.1 55.6 55.9 55.6

30 29 29.4 22.5

42.9 42.8 43 39.5

0.483 0.520 0.552 0.654

Source: Calculated by Duraisamy and Duraisamy (2014)

Table 6.2 Female labour force1 participation rate in SAARC countries Country


For females aged 15+

Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka

2011 2010 2013 2014 2010 2013 2013 2014

18.5 36.0 58.9 25.8 38.2 77.5 24.3 34.7


 abour force is defined as the total persons working (or employed) and seeking or available L for work (or unemployed).

Source: United Nations Statistics Division (Central Statistics Office 2017: 127)

Working women are also plagued with a double burden, where they work full time in the labour market and face a second shift of unpaid labour at home. This puts a strain on their productivity at work and also increase fatigue and illness among women (Bratberg et al. 2002). In the household women do more labour than men, even if they also have paid employment. Maternity leave is another issue. The government of India having recognised this has mandated that paid maternity leave be extended to six months (Ram 2017). However, it has not provided any financial support to firms who comply, which actually leads to even fewer women being employed. A patriarchal society sees women as being the sole provider of child care and the cost of providing for the next generation should be borne by her. This has led to a very negative attitude among employers towards providing maternity benefits to women. Women hence are excluded from better jobs by organised male workers. The situation is even more dismal when we look at ownership of means of production by women in India. For example, 74.8% of rural women in India are agricultural workers, but only 9.3% own the land (UN Women 2018). Even in the organised sector the women in India are not as empowered compared to women in other countries, as can be seen in Table 6.3 where in the World Bank reports that the percentage of firms with female

96  Lavanya Suresh Table 6.3 Female participation in ownership or control over modes of production Economy

Per cent of firms Per cent of firms Per cent of firms with female with majority with a female top participation in female ownership manager ownership

All countries (139 in total) 34.9 South Asia 18.4 India (2014 data) 10.7 1

14.5 9.6 2.8

18.6 11.0 8.9

The results are based on surveys of more than 131,000 firms.

Source: The World Bank (2017)1

participation in ownership is 10.7% in India compared to the world average of 34.9% and the average of for South Asia which is 18.4% (The World Bank 2017).

Patriarchal relations in the state and male violence A United Nations human rights expert group noted in June 2017 that women’s rights are facing an alarming backlash in many parts of the world. The backlash is driven by the progress which has been made in promoting and protecting women’s human rights (UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice 2017). The idea that progress is linear and goes from underdeveloped to developed or disempowered to empowered is a linear understanding of history. The realities are more complex since patterns of progress are convoluted and circular at best. Even as women in India are given legal protection through many legal and constitutional provisions, the violence against them is escalating. As the discrimination against women is being brought to the limelight not only through news media, but also through popular movies like Lipstick Under My Burkha, English Vinglish and Mom, to name a few, the repression of women in their day to day lives is becoming more violent. Legally the Indian state, in recognition of this threat, has taken a number of steps to uphold the constitutional mandate of ensuring equal rights to all and prohibit social discrimination. The constitution through the fundamental rights which are in Part III of the constitution empowers the state to pass laws to prevent violence and atrocities against the disempowered. The legislative provisions that protect women against what is termed as ‘Crimes against Women’ can broadly be classified under two categories. The first set of legal provisions are provided in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They are: Rape (Sec. 376 IPC); Kidnapping & Abduction for different purposes (Sec. 363–373); Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC); Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC); Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC); Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC); and Importation

The Broad-Basing process in India and women 97 of girls (up to 21 years of age) among others. The second set of legal provisions to recognise and punish crimes against women are provided by special laws. Some of these laws are not gender specific, but the provisions of these laws have been used to protect women from a number of atrocities. They are The Family Courts Act, 1954, The Special Marriage Act, 1954, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 with amendment in 2005, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995), Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976 The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983, Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 and The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. India has also ratified various international conventions and human rights instruments committing to secure equal rights of women. Key among them is the ratification of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1993. India has set up the National Commission for Women as a statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to give recommendations for the revision and review of the constitutional and legal provisions that safeguard women in India and facilitate redressal of grievances. The commission also advises the government on all policy matters affecting women (National Commission for Women 2018). Another positive legal step taken by the state to ensure representation of women in politics was to reserve one-third of the total seats for women in all elected offices in local bodies whether in rural areas or urban by way of amending the 73rd and 74th Amendment acts of 1992. The reserved proportion for women was later raised to one-half by the 110th Amendment. This positive step has unfortunately not been reflected in either state legislative bodies or in the Parliament. In fact, the Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 1996, but no government has passed it yet. The current version of the bill, the 108th Amendment, seeks to reserve 33% of all seats in governing bodies at the centre, state and local levels. To ensure the survival and protection of girl children, the National Plan of Action for the Girl Child (1991–2000) was crafted, revised in 2013 and 2016. It is now called the National Action Plan for Children, 2016. With the goal to have a policy crafted to enable the advancement, development and empowerment of women the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001 was formulated. This has been revised and a draft National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2016 is being considered. Despite the multiple safeguards provided by law, the operation of the same on the ground is mired in a patriarchal oppressive mechanism that makes acid attacks, dowry and domestic violence, and sexual harassment a day-to-day reality for Indian women. Crimes against women have more than doubled over the past ten years, according to the latest data released

98  Lavanya Suresh by the National Crime Records Bureau (Mallapur 2015). According to the Crime in India 2016: Statistics Report ( National Crime Records Bureau 2017: xix), the total number of crimes against women in 2014 was 339,457; in 2015 it was 329,243; and in 2016 it was 338,954. The majority of cases under crimes against women were reported under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (32.6%) followed by ‘Assault on Women With Intent to Outrage Her Modesty’ (25.0%), ‘Kidnaping & Abduction of Women’ (19.0%) and ‘Rape’ (11.5%). Male violence is driven by social structural patterns rather than individual psychologies. Men use violence as a form of power over women. The instances of various violations listed above constitute a set of practices that aim at shaping women’s actions and are a form of power (Walby 1989: 223). The availability of violence to men as a means of dominating over women is structured into the societal norms and enabled by the lack of intervention of the state. This is exemplified by how some times the Indian state blames the victim for the perpetration of violence. The Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) in Maharashtra from the Samajwadi Party, Abu Azmi, when asked about the increase in the number of rapes in the country, stated ‘Women should not venture out with men who are not relatives’ (Neelakantan 2016). The discourse on violence against women speaks of how women’s bodies are treated as property and owned by the patriarchal figure and hence become a site of violence by that figure. When she is in the public space, she is seen as being available for all. This allows both people in power and society to support the notion that a women’s place is in the home. However, even if for economic reasons women are allowed to enter the public sphere they are seen as subordinate there. The sanction given for violence ensures this subordination. In an Indian context, this is made even more complex by the use of religion as a sanctioning authority. Babulal Gaur, a BJP leader from Madhya Pradesh, states, The rate of crimes against women depended on the how completely dressed they are and how regularly they visited temples. Rapes in the state of Chennai are comparatively less as their women are always completely clad and visited temples regularly. (Neelakantan 2016) Religion is used as a tool to aggravate and justify violence and injustice (Nadkarni 2014: 273). The violence against women that happens during communal riots has been used a tool to shame and target religions minorities, but in India today we see this being taken further to incite terror among the marginalised. Hindu extremists and communal elements use the term ‘Love Jihad’ to target Muslim men who allegedly ‘trap Hindu women’ and convert them into Islam (Dabhade 2017). This attitude that justifies violence in the name of the ‘honour of the women’ manifests in other forms as well: honour

The Broad-Basing process in India and women 99 killings by families and on the order of Khap Panchayats beating up and stabbing women in public spaces where no one lifts a hand to help (Dey 2016); and portraying women as mothers who have no agency of their own. These are attempts to control women in the public space and ensure that she always feels at risk. Violence is a means to dehumanise women and objectify their bodies. This then leads to the use of women’s body as a site to humiliate communities that are the targets of communal violence and enables the strengthening of the structural inequity of patriarchy. These forms of violence are possible because of the implicit support that they receive from the state which does not condemn these acts, takes no action against the formation of vigilante squads or participates in victim blaming. The characteristics of women such as religion, caste or disability further increases their vulnerability to such violence. The deep-seated prejudice against women is killing our children. ‘India is one of the most dangerous places in the world for a girl child to be born’ (Rajput 2015: xxv). There is a mass murder of female foetuses by their own parents. In its 2012 report on Gender Equality and Development, the World Bank estimated that over the last two decades around 2.5 lakh girls were killed in India each year because of their sex (Pal 2014). The Economic Survey 2017–18 has shown that the desire for a male child in India has created 21 million unwanted girls in India between 0 and 25 years. Couples keep having children till they get the desired son (Deepalakshmi 2018). How are these unwanted girls treated? The spate of extremely violent rapes of young girls in India in 2017 shows a deeply disturbing side effect of a disregard for girl children. In 2017 a number of cases of rapes of young minor girls have been reported all over the country. In January 2018, an eight-month-old baby girl was raped by her 28-year-old cousin (The Times of India 2018). This is the lowest point a country can reach. These are not instances of a perverse sick individual, but the by-product of a deep-seated misogyny that pervades the very fabric of our society. These children were in most cases playing, going to school or walking on the road. The creation of terror in the minds of women and girls in India to step out into a public space is the result of patriarchal violence. Violence against women in India is not just in some pockets of society but is of endemic proportions: a life free of violence is a basic human right, one every man, women and child deserves (WHO 2013).

Patriarchal relations in cultural institutions, such as religion and education Unlike in the analysis of capital, where a holistic theory can be built to explain outcomes, patriarchy as a structure is composed of a diverse set of patriarchal practices that act as hurdles in women’s lives (Walby 1989: 227). To enable women to overcome these hurdles, education has often been seen as a solution. In this sector, the phenomenon of Broad-Basing

100  Lavanya Suresh can be seen. According to the Census 2011, the literacy rate at the all India level is 72.98%; for females and males they are 64.63% and 80.9%, respectively. During the last decade, the highest improvement in literacy rate was observed among rural females (24%). This improvement is observed among SC and ST rural women as well. In 2011, among the state and UTs, the male and female literacy rate is highest in Kerala (male: 96.1%, female: 92.1%) and lowest in Bihar (male: 71.2%, female: 51.5%). The gap in literacy rates of males and females is low in the states of Meghalaya, Kerala and Mizoram (fewer than 5 percentage points) and high in the states of Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh (20 percentage points or more), with Rajasthan being the highest (Central Statistics Office 2017: 39). However, the empowering ability of education is often held at ransom by cultural constrains placed on women. Religion has historically been an important means by which patriarchal discourses have articulated the ‘right’ conduct of women and distinguishing it from men. This has also taken the shape of excluding women form many religious practices by branding their bodies as profane. There has been some progress made in this regard. In March 2016, the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra state government to ensure that women are not denied entry to any place of worship that allows men access. Following the decision, two temples in the state opened their inner sanctum to women. In August 2016, the High Court further ordered that women be allowed to enter the Mumbai-based Muslim shrine, Haji Ali. A constitutional bench in September 2018 allowed all women to enter the Kerala-based Sabarimala Ayyappa Hindu temple (The Hindu 2018).1 Sabarimala is one of the few Hindu temples to restrict entry of women aged 10 to 50, thereby stigmatising menstruating women as a group. The court, however, upheld the right to worship as being equally available to both men and women. It is a significant move as it does address the discrimination women face within religious norms that support the idea that menstrual blood is unclean. The indoctrination of daily practices that segregate women due to biological characteristics and restricts their activities within and outside the home during their periods get credibility when temples of great fame restrict entry to women. What needs to be acknowledged is that a woman is stigmatised for what is a normal and healthy part of her adult life. What would it do to a human being when she is made to feel unclean every month of her life? A woman is constantly made to feel at odds with her own body, and this affects her self-worth and self-respect. The fact that the court acknowledged that a human, rather than a deity, has access to fundamental rights is a step in the right direction. This ruling is facing a lot of pushback from patriarchal forces. Women are seen to lead these reactionary protests. This throws light on the fact that patriarchy is not a ‘man vs. women’ caricature, but rather a hegemonic force that constructs belief structures in such a way that it furthers the marginalisation of women by society as a whole.

The Broad-Basing process in India and women 101 The Hindu religion has practiced a form of untouchability towards menstruating women that not only prevented them from participating in public events but also curtailed their movement in the home. These practices even pervaded rituals in Christianity and Islam in India. This has a direct impact on education as girls tend to miss school six days a month on an average due to the inability to manage their periods at school. Schools often do not have the infrastructure to enable girls to deal with their periods and the social stigma attached to it keeps them away. This eventually contributes to almost 23% girls dropping out of school on reaching puberty (Verma 2018). The stigmatisation of a normal biological process that a woman goes through every month of her reproductive years has a deep impact on how confident women are in their bodies. The data shows a positive trend as during 2014–15, the gross enrolment ratio (GER)2 at primary level for females and males are 101.4 and 98.9, respectively; at middle-class level the corresponding figures are 95.3 and 87.7, respectively; at higher secondary level, the status is at 65.8 and 63.8, respectively (Central Statistics Office 2017: 40). However, the dropout rates among rural girls aged 5–15 is 62.7 compared to 58.1 among boys. In the urban context, in the same age group the dropout rate is 41.4 among girls and 45.0 among boys (Central Statistics Office 2017: 49). This indicates that more steps need to be taken in rural India to keep girls in school. The most positive trends observed have been in health indicators of women in India. Women have been able to gain better access to health care facilities. The penetration of health care facilities in India has enabled a positive trend. In 2014, the total fertility rate (TFR)3 was at 2.3. TFR was high for illiterate women both in rural and urban areas, higher among rural illiterate women and statistics reveal that improvement in educational level lowers the TFR. The mortality rate among females across all ages was 6.2 and that among males was 7.1 in 2014. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has declined from 301 in 2001–03 to 167 in 2011–13 (Central Statistics Office 2017: 21).

Patriarchy and sexuality The control of women’s sexuality is important to the maintenance of patriarchal structures. The key here is heterosexuality. This is done by stigmatisation of all other forms of sexual relations, as well as maintaining the unequal relations within a heterosexual relationship (Walby 1989: 225). Multiple forms of social constraints and practices are at play to naturalise heterosexuality and the unequal distribution of power within a patriarchal heterosexual relationship. In India the daily practices that a girl child is subjected to till she reaches adulthood are all geared towards making her conform to the idea of a ‘good girl’ and to accept as true that her place in society is to serve either her family, her husband or her children. She is taught that the only place she can express her sexuality is within the confines

102  Lavanya Suresh of marriage and that too based on her male partner’s desires. Any other expression of sexual behaviour by a woman is stigmatised and will leave her vulnerable to losing her ‘good name’, which in turn makes her a socially sanctioned target of violence. There is therefore very little tolerance for any diversions from the norm. There is however a perception that homosexuality in India had never been stigmatised until colonisation. However, there is an implicit understanding that gay couples are more tolerated in society than lesbians (Nadkarni 2014: 272). In contemporary India it is based on a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ mentality, where the so-called follies of youth are ignored as long as men conform when asked to participate in a heterosexual marriage. This level of tolerance does not extend to either those who identify as transgender or lesbian. However, from the 1990s onwards there has been a strong lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in India. The most powerful and vocal groups are still centred around big cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. They advocate for diversity to be respected and discrimination to be stopped. Pride marches are held annually in these cities in defiance of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which is the main rallying point for these groups. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalises consensual sexual acts of LGBT adults in private, based on an archaic Victorian ruling in 1861 that made homosexuality a criminal offence. Recognising this, the Delhi High Court in 2009 held that criminalising consensual homosexual sex between adults, as Section 377 did, is a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. However, in 2013 a twomember Supreme Court bench overturned the 2009 verdict and held Section 377 constitutional and applied to all sexual acts irrespective of age or consent of parties. A review bench of the Supreme Court of India in January 2014 agreed with the 2013 verdict and set aside the historic and forward-looking Delhi High Court verdict. Eight curative petitions were filed challenging the 2014 judgement and in 2016 a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court has referred the case to a constitutional bench (The Hindu 2016). In a landmark judgement in September 2018, a constitutional bench unanimously decriminalised homosexual activity between consenting adults (Scroll Staff 2018).4 Along with the legal fight, a lot of ground-level social work is being undertaken by LGBT groups to sensitise society to the fact that discrimination based on sexuality amounts to denial of their rights to privacy and dignity and results in gross miscarriage of justice. Acknowledgement of this fact has come by way of the judgement that supported sexual freedom as being a part of individual liberty. In the city of Hyderabad there has been a unique movement wherein the LGBT movement, which is usually dominated by gay upper-caste men, is led by the transgender community. The Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti (THITS) has been very active in fighting for the rights of the transgender community in the state and has been successful in advocating

The Broad-Basing process in India and women 103 for people who have faced violence or discrimination because they identify as trans. The movement in the state gained traction after the landmark NALSAR judgement in 2014 where in the Supreme Court recognised the community as a third gender entitled to the same rights and constitutional protection as other citizens. It called for an end to discrimination based on gender against those who do not conform to the gender assigned to them at birth. Besides this negative right against discrimination, the court ruled that transgender persons had a positive right to make decisions about themselves, express themselves and participate in community life. It directed the government to accord them ‘socially and educationally backward’ status so they could benefit from affirmative action. In 2014, a private member’s bill moved by DMK MP Tiruchi N. Siva was passed in the Rajya Sabha. In the Lok Sabha, the government introduced its own bill, which people from the community and human rights activists find very problematic. This bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment. The Standing Committee, in its July 2017 report, suggested some modifications and additions to the draft. In particular, it disagreed with the definition of ‘transgender’ in the draft bill and wanted modifications to bring it in line with global norms. The Committee felt that the definition violated the principle that transgender persons have a right to self-identification of their gender. The right to identification in the proposed bill has been given to state officials and psychiatrist. This violates the spirit of the NALSAR judgement and further more makes people of the community vulnerable to state violence. As an activist and a person who identifies as transgender stated, ‘Standing naked in front of a group of people to prove our identity is nothing but an insult’ (Express 2018). The inclusion of psychiatrists in the evaluation make sexual identity a pathology. A stand that has always been criticised by human rights activists from the very beginning as it denounces any other sexual identity other than heterosexuality as ‘abnormal’ and fixable by medicine. However, the bill has been reintroduced in Parliament without any modifications. Sexuality cannot be reduced to the psychological or biological level (Foucault 1981). The recognition of other forms of sexuality and women as sexual beings with agency over their own bodies is a powerful part of how social relations are constructed. Traditional theories of social change see it as less important than it is. Feminists like Catharine MacKinnon suggest that sexuality is to feminism what labour is to Marxism (Walby 1989: 226). It is central to the understanding of how patriarchy functions and overwhelming in its significance. Over the last two decades India has taken important strides towards countering the marginalisation faced by those who identify as genders beyond the binary of male and female. However, these steps are heavily dependent on the state, which we observed earlier is highly masculine in nature. There is hope among the community and human rights activist that there will be a positive outcome, but it is dependent on how far the hold patriarchy has on the state can be challenged and broken.

104  Lavanya Suresh A light at the end of the tunnel can be seen by way of the Supreme Court verdict in September 2018 which struck down the archaic provision in Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises adultery, as unconstitutional. The court stated very eruditely that Any provision of law affecting individual dignity and equality of women invites [the] wrath of [the] Constitution. It’s time to say that [a] husband is not the master of his wife. Legal sovereignty of one sex over [the] other sex is wrong. (insertions by author) (Jain 2018)5

Towards Broad-Basing Having looked at both a broad categorisation of the features of patriarchy and detailed India specific experience and data we need to go back to the initial question – has the phenomena of Broad-Basing evident in the fight for gender justice in India? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. The fight is on. While many positive trends have been observed there has been a strong backlash. For every step forward, women in India have had to take two steps back. In terms of the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, India’s rank among 144 countries studied has slipped down sharply from 87 in 2016 to 108 in 2017. The decline was not just in relative terms but also in absolute terms, since the overall score also fell from 0.683 to 0.669 between the two years. The score slipped conspicuously down in respect of economic participation and opportunity from 0.408 to 0.376 during the same years. In fact, the country does not fare well even compared to its South Asian counterparts, as can be seen in Table 6.4. India’s sex ratio is lower than Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The fight against patriarchy is complex as it is not a universal notion. It has many forms that differ based on time, place and the institution it is embedded in. The elimination of any one form of patriarchal discrimination does not lead to the demise of the system as a whole and hence makes for a very hard fight against marginalisation. Even in terms of literacy rates, though there has been a good progress including females, there is a lot more ground to cover. India is not a clear leader compared to other SAARC countries (see Table 6.5), let alone the more advanced. There is a considerably higher level of awareness in society today. The commercialisation of feminism in mainstream entertainment is a very strong move. The #MeToo campaign has made social media a platform for women to speak out. The global campaign has shown us that there is no sphere in state, economy and society that is free from gender discrimination and violence. The articulation of this and spotlighting the issue is the first step. For Broad-Basing to occur in India we need to be constantly vigilant and treat

The Broad-Basing process in India and women 105 Table 6.4 Population and sex ratio in SAARC countries in 2015 Country

Sex ratio (total women/100 men)

Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka

95 98 87 94 99 105 95 106

Source: Women & Men in India – 2016 (Central Statistics Office 2017: 119)

Table 6.5 Literacy rates of women and Gender Parity Index1 in SAARC countries Country

Reference year

Youth (15–24) female literacy rate


Adult female (15+) literacy rates


Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka

2015 2015 2015 2011 2015 2015 2015 2015

46.10 85.86 90.49 87.26 99.51 87.41 66.79 99.17

0.67 1.06 0.97 0.95 1.00 0.94 0.83 1.01

23.87 58.31 55.11 62.98 98.85 54.75 42.73 91.71

0.46 0.90 0.75 0.78 0.99 0.72 0.61 0.98


GPI: Gender Parity Index is the ratio of indicator value for females to that of males.

Source: UIS (UNESCO Institute of Statistics) (Central Statistics Office 2017: 124)

women as human beings with agency of their own. Gender justice is possible only in a world that is devoid of constant threat.

Notes The Hindu. (2018, September 29). Freedom to Pray: On Sabarimala Verdict. 1 2 Gross enrolment ratio measures what percentage of the total population in the relevant age group is being covered by the educational programmes being run in the country. 3 Total fertility rate is defined as the average number of children that would be born to a woman if she experiences the current fertility pattern throughout her reproductive span (15–49 years). 4 Scroll Staff. (2018, 6 September). ‘History owes an apology to LGBT community’: India’s Supreme Court Decriminalises Homosexuality. 5 Jain, M. (2018, 27 September). ‘Husband Is Not the Master of Wife’, SC Strikes Down 158 Year Old Adultery Law Under Section 497 IPC. Source:, downloaded on 14 October 2018.

7 Whither workers in India? Vinay Kumar

Introduction In India, while workers (industrial) have been crucial for industrial development, they have never been in dominant positions. Initially, they were rural migrants drawn to the modern industries established during the colonial period. With the growth of railways and transport, and development of industries, their numbers increased. The initial deprival of living wages and benefits forced them to live away from their families and work full-time in cities. This led to several agitations including strikes in the textile mills of Bombay, Calcutta and Ahmedabad. These agitations were mostly sporadic, spontaneous and unorganised. Later agitations were streamlined through trade unions and the formation of the first central labour federation in 1920: the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC hereafter). Trade union activities were legalised through the Trade Union Act, 1926. The workers’ movement, never aloof from politics in India, has a baggage of political and ideological origination. The first workers’ strike was called to protest against B. G. Tilak’s imprisonment in 1906 and demand his release. The workers’ movement escalated in the 1930s and 1940s and witnessed a rise in communist influence. After independence, labour-friendly legislations and a multiplicity of unions affiliated to political parties led to several developments including full employment and social security to government and public-sector employees. The decades of the 1950s to the 1980s were a golden period for industrial workers, with full-fledged labour militancy. However, the 1974 railway strike and the failure of the Bombay textile strike in 1982 eroded it to some extent. Since 1990, several changes have occurred in the industrial landscape. The dominance of public sector declined and the private sector’s contribution to the economy has increased. Three types of economy are clearly reflected: existing formal economy (public sector and government offices), new formal economy (IT, ITES and BPOs), and informal economy (unorganised sector and informal employment in public sector). The existing public sector reduced regular workers and informalised the workforce through outsourcing and casual employment in permanent posts. Government departments

Whither workers in India? 107 too preferred casual over regular workers. The privileged employees of new formal economy received high remuneration, but with informal characteristics. Informal economy grew exponentially attracting rural migrants with the emergence of new jobs. These developments brought drastic changes in the structure of workers, trade union movements and their social, economic and political status. This paper presents the trajectory of industrial workers in India since independence. Based on a binary of Broad-Basing and marginalisation concepts, it attempts to establish a phase of Broad-Basing in the 1960s and 1970s, marginalisation in the 1990s and again Broad-Basing after 2000. The paper substantiates its findings through changes that occurred in Tata Steel Ltd, Jamshedpur, and makes use of participant observance and interviews. The next sections of this chapter briefly presents workers’ status from independence till 1980s, and then changes in 1990s that marginalised workers’ status. Struggles of contract workers are then portrayed, as are reasons for stakeholders’ attention to their plight. The last part of the chapter indicates lacunae in workers’ struggles that prevented them from gaining positions of respect.

Workers in 1970s–1980s This chapter details workers’ status in society through the concept of Broad-Basing process. Broad-Basing is a converging process opposite to marginalisation. It widens the power structure by enabling disadvantaged groups to intervene in the mainstream of social, political and economic life and helps society to be more inclusive. It is a collective and accommodative process and focuses on uplift of disadvantaged groups and social respect (Nadkarni 1997). The emergence of several political parties after independence influenced the workers’ movement and led to numerous central trade union federations. Increasing communist influence in AITUC in 1930s resulted in the formation of Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC) as the labour wing of Indian National Congress. Political parties saw workers as major vote banks and launched their own trade union federations. The Socialists broke away from Congress and formed Hind Mazdoor Sabha. Jansangh (later the Bharatiya Janata Party) formed its labour wing Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS). When the communists split, AITUC too broke up and the Communist Party (Marxist) formed its own labour wing, the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU). Over the years, the ruling parties in the states and centre actively promoted unions affiliated to them, and trade union federations (INTUC, BMS) consolidated large membership as ideology-based, and not in the interests of the working class. Indian industrial policy after independence based on state capitalism led to several new industries in public and private sector. Labour friendly legislations, good remuneration and perks created a different atmosphere for

108  Vinay Kumar the working class. Conflicts and strikes declined in number between 1947 and 1960. The situation changed in the 1960s and 1970s when the country faced economic depression after the early growth of the 1950s. The workers’ demands had kept the unions busy fighting for economic issues while training and skill development of workers were overlooked. The government set up industry-wise wage boards, tribunals and joint consultative machinery to settle disputes. However, in this period the working class expanded significantly and so did its intervening capacity. Economic slowdown in 1960s led to a nationalisation wave. The middle class which was small at the time of independence grew, resulting in convergence. While middle class characteristics appeared among industrial workers, clerks and other non-manual workers, including teachers and bank employees, adopted many trade-union practices pioneered by the industrial working class. This convergence amalgamated the urban middle class and industrial workers as a major vote-bank in urban constituencies and made it difficult for any political party to ignore them. Several cities emerged as labour constituencies (Mumbai, Kanpur), and elected parliamentarians with a background in trade unionism. In 1971, the Lok Sabha had record 108 elected members (21%) with a trade union background. In 2004, this fell to 21 elected members (4%) (Ahn 2010). Correspondingly, Jamshedpur also emerged as a labour constituency and Tata Steel and its associated industries in Jamshedpur (which had experienced several worker upsurges in the pre-independence era) strove for industrial peace by recognising INTUC and providing good remuneration (on par with workers of Steel Authority of India (SAIL)) and other facilities to workers. Tata Steel became a founding member of Central Wage Board for Steel. Even then, the communist-inspired workers’ movement arrived in Jamshedpur which witnessed two major strikes: in 1958 (Tata Steel) and in 1969 (engineering industries). These two strikes increased the number of elected members of Parliament and the Legislative Assembly associated with trade unions.

Scenario in the 1990s With the launch of the New Economy Policy, India’s industrial landscape witnessed a paradigm shift in 1990s. Private industries were encouraged and permitted in core sectors, earlier reserved for public sector. Several restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI), technology transfer, expansion and product diversification were removed. Though labour legislations were not amended officially, there was de facto curtailing of regular workforce in public sector and government offices. From 1997–98 to 2003–04, 7.3 lakh employees lost their jobs, of which 5.2 lakh were industrial workers. This was executed through Voluntary Retirement Schemes, which legitimised layoffs and retrenchments. By September 1996, 85,000 workers in stateowned firms had been retrenched (Jenkins 1999).

Whither workers in India? 109 As mentioned above, this decade witnessed three broad forms of change. First, a reduction in number of regular workers with increasing informal employment in existing public and private sectors; second, emerging new formal sectors (IT, ITES) engaging highly remunerated workers with informal characteristics; and third, exponential growth of informal sector. This reflected expansion of the working class, with the construction and services sector absorbing the bulk of the increase. Construction and related activities employed nearly 11% of India’s workforce (5 crore) in the last two decades. The agrarian crisis and increased population in 1990s compelled more people to earn a livelihood in non-agricultural work in urban as well as rural areas and reduced the number of self-employed people dependent on agriculture. Most rural migrants found jobs in the informal sector as construction workers, rickshaw pullers, daily-wage workers and street vendors. Employment expansion in the organised sector, especially in industry was inadequate. Since 1990, the employment loss has been reflected in the category of directly employed workers, while informal (contractual) employment has seen a rise with a likely substitution of directly employed workers by contractual workers. From 2003–04 to 2009–10, organised sector employment (manufacturing) saw an unprecedented increase of 7.1% after jobless growth in 1990s. Contract workers grew by 12.4% while directly employed workers grew by 5.1% in the same period. The share of contract workers in total organised employment rose from 10.5% in 1995–96 to 25.6% by 2009–10, while the share of directly employed workers fell from 68.3% to 52.4% in the same period (Table 7.1). The growth rate in total emoluments paid to workers, excluding contract workers and managerial staff, was negative in 2000s compared to 1980s, being −0.12%. It was 3.25% and 5.32% for contract workers and managerial staff, respectively (Table 7.2). Jamshedpur, which emerged as Workers’ City in the first decade of the 20th century, was no longer for workers in 1990s, with industrial employment no longer the main source of livelihood, and big firms like Tata Steel and Tata Motors reducing their permanent workforce. Tata Steel had 16,000 employees with 10 million tonne hot metal production in 2015 compared to

Table 7.1 Growth rate by category of workers in organised manufacturing (%)

Directly employed workers Employed through contractor Managerial staff Total persons engaged Source: Sood et al. (2014: 60)

1995–96 to 2002–03

2003–04 to 2009–10

1995–96 to 2009–10

−3.15 5.35 0.34 −1.47

5.11 12.37 8.24 7.10

0.38 8.70 2.69 2.21

110  Vinay Kumar Table 7.2 Growth rate of wages by different categories of employment Period

Total emoluments


1980s 1990s 2000s

4.52 1.53 1.86

4.32 0.08 −0.19

Directly employed

Contract workers





Source: Sood et al. (2014: 61)

40,000 employees with 2.4 million tonne production in 1992. Tata Motors too downsized its workforce from 15,000 to 4,000. Subsequently, contract workers have outnumbered regular employees with more than 25,000 of them in Tata Steel and 15,000 in Tata Motors. In some industries, the entire production process was performed by contract workers. For instance, Jojobera power plant was manned by 40 permanent workers and 1,000 contract workers. Contract workers are also involved in perennial type of work, which is prohibited by law. In the latter half of 1990s, Tata Steel reduced its workforce gradually through an Early Separation Scheme (an early retirement plan) which ensured a continued stable income – without increments – and loan facility till the age of retirement for superannuated workers. It was popularised as a voluntary incentive-based scheme and workers were persuaded to opt for early retirement through consultative and coercive manner, exploiting existing fear and anxiety among them. Several non-core sectors of work such as education, housekeeping, gardening and transport were outsourced or contractualised. Workers of these departments were persuaded initially and later deputed to low-grade work such as grass-cutting and drain-cleaning. Workers considered it better to opt for separation than be humiliated. These steps, along with normal superannuation and minimal new recruitment helped reduce the workforce by over 20,000 in just nine years (1994–2003) (Table 7.3). Obviously, the emerging industrial landscape – nationally or locally – reflected drastic changes in patterns of employment. Outsourcing, downsizing, casualisation and informalisation became the norm. Outsourcing was perceived as enabling firms to be lean and mean, or an opportunity for an organisation to free itself of tasks that require expertise or increase costs. Downsizing was done through non-replacement of retired or superannuated employees, and early retirement. Establishment of independent subsidiaries to lower labour costs became the norm. Increased utilisation of non-standard forms of employment such as part-time, temporary and contract brought in greater flexibility and facilitated industries to rely on contractors and agencies to assemble temporary workers for projects. Contract work and part-time employment could be easily decreased or increased and moved to different locations in a short

Whither workers in India? 111 Table 7.3 Summary of early separation scheme    

1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Total   VRS ESS ESS ESS ESS ESS ESS ESS ESS ESS

Works 534 1,263 1,282 1,361 2,949 1,291 1,804 Non 152 370 126 462 380 289 842 works Raw 435 1,251 56 806 368 1,481 689 material Sales & 18 8 302 118 210 40 marketing Total 1,139 2,892 1,766 2,629 3,815 3,271 3,375

363 212 35

1,537 950 343 324

12,384 3,783 5,788 696


2,830 324


Source: Personnel Department Tata Steel

period. Such diversified employment relations introduced three or more intermediate tiers in the production chain, enabling industries to shift liabilities and responsibilities to the contractors/suppliers, as they were not the principal employers (Webster 2005). Managements’ vulnerability was reduced by multi-site locations, scaling down or scrapping certain operations and industrialists were enabled to declare lockout or close down a plant without affecting overall production, market share or profitability. The 1990s saw industrial units being closed because of shutdowns rather than labour unrest. Such measures reduced the workers’ bargaining power and provided much-needed flexibility to employers to restructure production systems. Managements began to redefine work standards, upwardly revise production targets, increase the scope of job descriptions, and make decisions unilaterally, ignoring the trade unions (Ghosh 1995). The profile of workers also changed with the majority having no job security or definite class identity. The workers employed in the services sector appeared to accept the need for emotional labour, customer consciousness and entrepreneurial values. They re-invented themselves as new model workers, ready and willing to abandon collective solidarity with their work peers in favour of the employer’s goals. The emergence of emotional labour with its requirements of surface- and deep-acting as part of the job satisfied the management’s need for behavioural compliance at workplaces (Danford et al. 2003). Besides the need for emotional awareness, workers were required to possess aesthetic qualities designed to please the customer. The new model worker was a product of sophisticated human resource management (HRM) procedures of recruitment, selection and training. The old ideas of collective dependency on the employer for welfare and job security were assumed to be abandoned in return for employability of the new worker.

112  Vinay Kumar The focus was on personalised rather than collectivised contracts, and individual responsibility for career and skill development. The non-collectivist attitudes, non-union workplaces and increased insecurity in labour market, increased workers’ compliance with the management’s objectives and their commitment to organisational goals. While the economic reforms were implemented initially with employment generation in mind, their focus shifted to increasing national growth rate, global market share, shareholder value and labour productivity and not solely employment generation as claimed. Except in some government departments, the era of secure employment was at an end, and the post-liberalisation employment scenario was shadowed by uncertainty and unpredictability. Fluctuating economics, restructuring, technological advancement, disinvestments, closures, retrenchments and destabilised job security were reflected both as a value and as a practice (Joseph 2004). These developments profoundly affected workers’ status and trade unionism in India and posed tough challenges. They were compelled to support modernisation at enterprises level for survival but opposed the liberalisation process at the national level. Non-union firms and prohibition of union formation became the norm in private firms. In Haryana, workers at a Honda factory who wished to form a recognised trade union had to struggle and even face lathi charge (Saini 2007). The 1990s also witnessed the rise of non-political unions and ‘societytype’ organisation among workers. Society-type organisations are regulated through the Society Act, 1912. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or independent non-political unions were active among informal workers. Society-type organisations emerged in new formal sectors (IT, ITES and BPOs) where the overworked and stressed workers were not interested in traditional trade unions, fearing that it will harm their career prospects. These white-collar workers considered themselves professionals and seldom associated with blue-collar workers. Strategies of exclusion and inclusion used by the employer such as outsourcing of transport, cleaning and canteen services restricted their integration with informal workers. Human resource policies that stress individualism prevent collectivism. Although unionisation and collective bargaining will aid in mitigation of their work stress and lack of social security, they favour society-0type organisation and not trade unions (Sandhu 2006). To sum up, in the 1990s, workers became marginalised and lost their respectable position. Decline in permanency and social security and the setbacks faced by trade unions cast a shadow on the industrial landscape. The working class grew but through informal employment, and their ability to intervene in society and mainstream politics was reduced. Government and employers were concerned with profits and survival in a competitive era. The development discourse seemed to be ‘A bad job is better than no job’.

Whither workers in India? 113 Consistently ignoring the quality aspect of employment led to severe industrial disruptions after 2000, compelling stakeholders to rethink this development and go for inclusiveness.

Workers since 2000 The emerging scenario did not look promising for workers. While their numbers increased through informal employment, it was meagre compared to industry profits. The share of total emoluments paid to workers fell from 28.6% to 17.4% of gross value added (GVA) between 2000–01 and 2011– 12, while the share of profits in GVA rose from 19.9% in 2000–01 to 46.2% in 2011–12. Consequently, the share of supervisory and managerial staff in the wage pie rose from 26.1% to 35.8%, while that of contract workers fell from 57.6% to 48.8% (Kapoor 2016: 6–7). Though the total number of workers (including agricultural) has increased since 1990, it is insignificant compared to 1980s which saw relatively fast growth in non-agricultural employment. Employment growth slowed sharply during 1990s. The net increase in employment was 7.1 crore between 1983 and 1993–94, and fell to 2.4 crore between 1993– 94 and 1999–2000. Employment growth during the first half of 2000s (1999–2000 to 2004–05) looks impressive with a net increase of 5.95 crore. But the quality aspects of employment are missing and most of the newly employed were contract workers. Employment generation in second half of 2000s (2004–05 to 2009–10) declined sharply with only 0.125 crore new jobs being added, most of them in the non-agricultural sector (Table 7.4). Almost half of all new non-agricultural jobs added in India during 2000s were in one sector – construction, which is characterised by relatively low wages and poor working conditions. The slowdown in employment growth was witnessed at a time when the country’s economic growth was very impressive. New jobs were created at the rate of only 0.53 crore a year between of 1993–94 and 2009–10 compared to 6.8% GDP growth (Table 7.5).

Table 7.4 Net increase in the number of workers in India Period

All workers

Agricultural workers

Non-agricultural workers

1983 to 1993–94 1993–94 to 1999–2000 1999–2000 to 2004–05 2004–05 to 2009–10 1993–94 to 2009–10

7.11 crore 2.4 crore 5.95 crore 0.125 crore 8.47 crore

3.24 crore 0.08 crore 1.85 crore −2.11crore −0.18 crore

3.87 crore 2.32 crore 4.1 crore 2.23 crore 8.65 crore

Source: Thomas (2012: 40)

114  Vinay Kumar Table 7.5 Annual net increase in the number of workers and annual rate of growth of GDP in India Period

Annual increase in employment

Annual increase in non-Agricultural employment

Annual rate of growth of GDP in %

1983 to 1993–94 1993–94 to 1999–2000 1999–2000 to 2004–05 2004–05 to 2009–10 1993–94 to 2009–10

0.68 crore 0.4 crore 1.19 crore 0.024 crore 0.53 crore

0.37 crore 0.39 crore 0.82 crore 0.45 crore 0.54 crore

5.2% 6.5% 5.9% 8.6% 6.8%

Source: Thomas (2012: 40)

Of the 47.2 crore workers in 2011–12, about 39.2 crore or 83% were estimated to be in the informal sector. Even the organised sector which comprised 8 crore workers, had 4.6 crore informal workers (58%). Informal workers are estimated to constitute 92% of the total workforce. Of these informal workers, 56% is engaged in agricultural activities, 10% in construction and 34% in industry and services. Most of the workers in rural areas are compelled to take up non-agricultural work for more than eight months in a year to sustain themselves. The number of workers in IT and ITES has grown rapidly after 2000 and numbered 0.28 crore in 2011. While small numbers get good wages, most are poorly paid. The increased utilisation of contract workers is justified by industrialists in terms of flexibility and cheap availability. However, growing reliance on contract workers for minimising costs attracted severe labour unrest in Indian industries such as the widely reported turmoil and violence in the Maruti Manesar plant. Since 2005, many cases of labour unrest erupted among automobile industries. The Honda factory witnessed major strikes in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010 and the estimated production loss was Rs. 407 crores. The Indian unit of the Italian auto component manufacturer, Grazino Trasmissioni, faced appalling industrial violence in 2008. The managing director was killed by dismissed workers. Similarly, the vice president (human resource) was killed in Pricol, Coimbatore during labour unrest in 2009. Mahindra and Mahindra faced protests in 2009 and 2013 with the loss of 6,000 and 3,500 units, respectively. In October 2009, 90,000 protesting workers brought India’s automobile hub in Gurgaon-Manesar belt to a standstill. The protests originated at auto parts maker Rico Auto Industries and severely affected 60 vehicle and component manufacturing units (Economic Times, 23 February 2016). The incidents at Maruti Manesar created a turning point for reconsidering contractual employment. Originally intended for peripheral work, contractual employment began to hold sway over core Indian industries. The rising share of contract workers has also bred conflict, often violent, especially where contract workers form a majority and face unequal wages

Whither workers in India? 115 compared to their permanent peers. Since contract workers are not part of regular collective bargaining, they are more likely to resort to wildcat strikes and militant action. As an overused strategy, it has reached saturation level. Shyam Sundar (2012) identifies two more trends of workers’ struggle: tensions and conflicts between regular and contract workers on the shop floor, and lack of solidarity between regular and contract workers. The movement of informal (contract) workers are also forging new ways (Agarwala 2013). Informal workers claim their rights as citizens, not labour. They shift demands for health care and social security benefits to the state along with the employer. Their movement has gained strength within electoral contexts where parties compete for votes. Studies based on three states, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra, reveal that the strategy has been effective in Tamil Nadu, but not in West Bengal where informal workers have not received material benefits from the state. In Maharashtra, informal workers have had limited success in eliciting benefits from the state.

Trade union initiatives In 2000s, contract workers began to be recognised as an important factor for industrial development and various stakeholders initiated measures to improve their status. Trade unions, made irrelevant by a shrinking regular workforce, have begun to raise the cause of informal workers by focusing on broader issues touching millions of the labouring poor. Trade union movement shifted towards anti-privatisation protests after 1990. Uba (2008) chronicles the trade unions’ mobilisation against liberalisation policies in the period 1991–2003 (Table 7.6). After 1990s, successive governments have attempted labour reforms, as part of economic reforms. Consequently, trade unions have increased their mobilisation and modified their strategies. First, they moved from striking at enterprise level to one- or two-day call for Bharat Bandh. Second, they have succeeded in bringing all national trade union federations onto one Table 7.6 Mobilisations of trade unions Protest tactics Blocking roads, occupying buildings Demonstration, marches and rallies Strikes, slowdowns Sit-ins General national wide protests Others Source: Uba (2008: 874)

No. of actions

Mean no. of participants

Mean duration in days







91 17 32 26

161,385 35,635 782,256 11,980

2.68 1.13 1.08 1.27

116  Vinay Kumar platform. Since 1991, around ten central unions have collaborated several times to organise bandhs. Mainstream trade unions have widened the reform agenda significantly to include economic, labour, and enforcement policies, issues of unorganised sector and contract workers, apart from agitating against proposed labour laws. Their demands on behalf of contract workers include minimum wages of Rs. 18,000 universal social security, pension and wages at par with regular workers for same and similar work (Box 7.1). They have also coordinated with a number of domestic industry federations like banking and insurance; unorganised sector unions and associations like street vendor unions; and auto rickshaw unions. Since 2012, their strikes have mobilised millions of workers from the organised and the unorganised sectors, making the prodigious numbers a compelling feature of these strikes (Sundar and Sapkal 2017).

Box 7.1  Charter of Demands, All-India Strikes, 2015 and 2016  1. Urgent measures for containing price-rise through universalisation of public distribution system (PDS) and banning speculative trade in commodities market.   2. Containing unemployment through concrete measures for employment generation.   3. Strict enforcement of all basic labour laws without any exception or exemption, and stringent punitive measures for violation of labour laws.   4. Universal social security covers for all workers.   5. Minimum wages of not less than Rs. 18,000 per month with provisions of indexation.   6. Assured enhanced pension not less than Rs. 3,000 per month for the entire working population.   7. Stoppage of disinvestment in central/state public sector units.   8. Stoppage of contractualisation in permanent perennial work and payment of same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for the same and similar work.   9. Removal of all ceilings on payment and eligibility of bonus, provident fund; increase the quantum of gratuity. 10 Compulsory registration of trade unions within a period of 45 days from the date of submitting application; and immediate ratification of International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions C87 and C98. 11. No unilateral amendment to labour laws. 12. No foreign direct investment (FDI) in railways, defence, and other strategic sectors.

Whither workers in India? 117

Employers’ initiatives Disruptions, prolonged unrest and the Maruti Manesar violence in 2011– 12 caused employers to rethink their attitudes towards contract workers. Pradeep Bhargava, executive director at Cummins India along with B. Muthuraman, then Tata Steel vice chairman and Rajeev Dubey, head of human resources at Mahindra and Mahindra, initiated a Confederation of Indian Industry pilot project to improve the lot of contract workers. Certain ground rules were laid down for the industry regarding wages for contract workers, provisions for uniforms, subsidised food and accident insurance, and reducing contract workers in perennial jobs (Business Today, 17 February 2013). Several employers started to implement these guidelines. Maruti terminated pacts with labour contractors at the Manesar plant and hired contract workers directly. They are offered more benefits such as free meals and insurance but paid less than regular workers for the same work. Directly hired contract workers were paid around Rs. 17,000 per month in 2016, while regular workers’ pay varied between Rs. 17,000 and Rs. 50,000 depending on work experience. Maruti had 10,626 contract workers, 13,259 regular workers and 1,276 apprentices as of 31 March 2016. The contract workers were eligible for seven months’ work in a year and laid off for five months. This system was first adopted at the Manesar plant and later introduced at their other plants (Mint, August 17, 2016). Following the path of contractual employment since 1990, Tata Steel, Jamshedpur increasingly utilised contract workers in both perennial and non-perennial jobs. In 2013, 20,000–25,000 contract workers work at Tata Steel, of whom 5,000–10,000 are in perennial type of job. Unlike the automobile industries, Tata Steel remained peaceful and no major disruption occurred excluding two minor incidents in 2010 and 2012. The first minor incident occurred on 28 June 2010, when a dispute between regular security personnel and contract workers at one entry gate led to violence, and a group of contract workers damaged company property worth more than 30 lakh rupees. The second minor incident occurred on 24 December 2012, when regular security personnel fired on agitating contract workers. Both incidents were interpreted as problems of law and order, and not labour. However, they brought changes in the company’s attitudes towards contract workers. The management advised managers and regular workers to respect contract workers and treat them as business partners. Tata Steel stopped collecting charges for safety training and safety appliances from contract workers, charging contractors instead. As a partner of the pilot project, Tata Steel introduced several other changes. Contract workers were provided training in its technical institute. Canteen facilities were improved and air-conditioned canteens introduced at some locations. Proper restrooms, hygienic shop-floor working conditions, free bus services, parking facilities and a mechanism for redressing grievances have been introduced.

118  Vinay Kumar

Government initiatives The government plays a crucial role in ensuring workers a respectable status. What the workers achieved in the 1960s and 1970s in terms of full employment, social security and pensions was largely a result of the prolabour attitude of the government and not trade union struggles. Workers’ status declined during 1990s when the government closed its eyes to labour violations and allowed employers to replace regular workers with contract workers. The sporadic violence and unrest and the deplorable condition of contract workers reported in media, led the government to take initiatives for universal social security. The UPA I government constituted a National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) in 2004 to study the informal sector. The commission recommended the creation of an entitlement of a national minimum social security for all eligible informal workers. Following this, the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 was passed by Parliament. Although it was a flawed act which did not meet contract workers’ aspirations, it was a beginning. The unorganised sector has been an integral part of Indian industrial development since independence, but its role and contribution to the economy were not recognised prior to 1990. Workers’ Welfare Funds were set up to provide protection to informal workers. For instance, Tamil Nadu has 16 or more welfare boards and schemes for construction workers, truck drivers, footwear workers, handloom and silk weaving workers, and other categories of informal workers. Kerala is a role model in terms of covering a large number and great variety of informal occupational groups. The common categories of protection under several welfare boards include pension scheme, provident fund, retirement benefit and gratuity, ex gratia payments, disability allowance, funeral expenses, education and medical care, marriage and maternity benefits (WIEGO). There are several lacunae in the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 and welfare boards. They do not cover all 40 crore informal workers and offer meagre protection. The NDA government after coming to power in 2014 has proposed universal social security for informal workers including the self-employed, and promised mandatory pensions, insurance and other benefits. This is a welcome move, but is vague and flawed. Since 2000s, contract workers are recognised as valuable partners in Indian industries. Violence, unrest, media focus on their measurable conditions, and growing irrelevancy of trade unions compelled the stakeholders to initiate positive measures for their welfare. Contract workers form a major vote bank and political parties compete for their votes. This has led to empowerment of workers, but not on par with workers’ status in the 1960s and 1970s. Lack of solidarity and their diversified movements are stumbling blocks.

Whither workers in India? 119

Conclusion Since independence, the status of workers has undergone ups and downs. The dominant discourse of welfare state ensured workers proper care and benevolence. State paternalism for industrial labour had its pros and cons. On the one hand, workers gained government protection and respect; on the other hand, Indian workers could not develop solidarity like their European counterparts. Their struggles entangled with feudal residuals such as caste, religion and region. The trade unions did not emerge as torch bearers for the entire working class, held back by lack of internal democracy and interference from political parties. What workers achieved such as full employment, social security and other benefits till 1980 were the result of state policies along with movements of trade unions. The situation changed after 1980s compelling trade unions to realise their drawbacks. They escalated their struggles not against employers but against liberalisation policies responsible for their plight. In many instances they supported the modernisation drive at enterprise level. Lock-outs, rather than workers’ strikes, shut down industries after 1990. Employer militancy and government disregard of labour violations resulted in low status of workers except those employed in government offices and the public sector. Stakeholders’ neglect of informal workers’ plight led to several disruptions and workers’ struggles in 2000s. Stakeholders began to implement plans for workers’ protection. Although flawed and meagre, they are positive. For inclusive developments more initiatives are required, especially from employers and the government, for removing mistrust of contract workers and for universal social protection.

8 Is there a Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon

Background Taking the lenses of food security, poverty and unemployment, this chapter examines empirically whether there is any Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy and what factors would explain such an outcome. The major concern in India’s pre-reform period was related to the so-called Hindu rate of growth of 3.5% in real terms. Apparently the prime expectation of economic reform was to push up its vital growth parameter, which in turn assumed a trickle-down process of benefits to the poor.1 Thanks to the mammoth number of initiatives taken in the early years of reform, the Indian economy grew by 5.3% per year within the first five years of the economic reforms (Nagaraj 1997). Meanwhile, it has also seen improvements in a few more growth parameters. For instance, between 1990–91 and 2010–11, the GDP of India quadrupled; GDP per capita increased from US$403.09 to US$1,034.24; the forex reserves accelerated from US$5.8 billion to US$278 billion; flow of foreign direct investment increased from US$0.5 million to US$862 million;2 and exports increased from US$18 billion to US$178 billion.3 In the process, however, not all sectors benefitted from the sudden shift in the policy measures. The tumultuous economic environment surrounding this period was observed in the performance of the sectors that had been subject to vagaries. For instance, with respect to the agricultural sector, its contribution to GDP declined from 34% (1990) to 15.07% (2015), whereas for the same period population depending on agriculture has not altered much. As per the latest available year, 54.6% of the population is engaged in the agricultural sector. However, with ongoing structural adjustments, its share in gross value added (GVA) had seen a decline. For instance, during 2010–11, agriculture sector had 7% contribution to total GVA and for the latest available year it is 1.2%. Meanwhile the sector also experienced a high rate of farmer suicides and farmers quitting agriculture as an occupation.4 However, this decline has been arrested in countries that have successfully tapped comparative advantage in exporting agricultural goods. For instance, Denmark and New Zealand continue to stand out as

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 121 they have successfully tapped their position as leading agricultural exporters (Johnston and Mellor 1961). While fault has been laid on the lack of public investments in areas such as irrigation and drainage, soil conservation and water management and so forth, some studies5 have pointed out to excessive attention paid to secondary and tertiary sectors, the prevalent fiscal position of the state government and subsidies that absorb a major portion of public funds kept aside for other social needs. Due to this the agricultural sector is rendered unviable when in reality there has occurred failure in the implementation of proper measures that add to the growth of this vital sector of Indian economy. With respect to the industrial sector, in 1981–82 the proportion contributed by the manufacturing sector to the net domestic product was 15%, a small rise from around 12% at the end of the 1950s. By 1990–91, industry contributed 26% of India’s GDP, employing 15% of the workforce and using 39% of economy’s net renewable stock (Nagaraj 2011). However, post-1991 production increased substantially; there was also an absolute increase in employment. Meanwhile, the service sector has emerged as the most promising sector. With such facets of growth, it becomes very interesting to seek answers to the question what is happening to life and livelihood of different social groups, who are directly and/or indirectly depend on such sectors? Is the process encouraging more people (across social groups) to enter the mainstream of the social, political and economic sphere or pushing them towards marginalisation? If so, what factors explain such phenomena? An enquiry into these questions is explored in this chapter. The next section – taking the lenses of food security, poverty and unemployment – attempts to examine empirically if there is any BroadBasing process in the Indian economy. The third section explores factors that perhaps explain growth and Broad-Basing paradox, and the last section summarises the chapter.

Empiric Perhaps, the best beginning to seek answers to the question of whether there is any Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy is through assessing the state of food security, with discussion of nutrition, poverty and unemployment. We also present an overview of the policy interventions taken at macro level and its facets at the grass-roots level. Food security Despite priding itself as the ‘largest democracy in the world’ and as Asia’s next economic superpower, India is still caught up in a food crisis that predates the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947. Back then, India was facing problems to match supply with demand due to its growing population, of which more than 50% was living under the poverty line (Acharya 2009: 1).6 Food security at the national level referred then mainly to availability in the

122  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon country of sufficient stocks of food to meet domestic demand (Dev 2010). In the decade following independence, while the country struggled to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and availability, the years following 1970s provided relief to the government in terms of having attained selfsufficiency, with food grain production increasing from 50 million tonnes in 1950–51 to 233.9 million tonnes in 2008–09 (Dev and Sharma 2010). The increase in the food production, over the years, has also seen a tremendous increase in India’s buffer stock of food grain, which is on an average above the stipulated norm. For instance, for the latest available year (October 2017), Food Corporation of India (FCI) held 46 million tonnes, which is 53% higher than the buffer norm. The mere increase in feedstock, however, cannot be considered as an achievement as many caveats are associated with it. For example, the storage of excess food grain has been responsible for high carrying and maintenance costs besides wastage and deterioration of food quality. Moreover, as against the national trend of a ‘food secure state’, it remains a matter of concern at household level, specifically among marginalised sections in rural areas (Howes and Jha 1992; Khera 2011; Dreze and Khera 2013; Rahman 2016; Dreze and Khera 2015). In fact, the increase in food production and also good buffer stock could not increase much the availability of per capita food grain, cereals and pulses (Dev and Sharma 2010). The well-being of the people of any country depends not only on aggregate production of food but also its distribution. In a bid to make improvements in prevailing food insecurity, several schemes were implemented like the Public Distribution System (PDS), Employment Generation Schemes (EGS). The famous among the EGS is the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Parikh (1994) argues that Employment Generating Schemes are the best way to solve the problem of scarcity in food as against PDS. Comber et al. (2015) taking the case of Karnataka argues that there has been a high prevalence of ghost cards (existing but unverifiable cards), which has led to an excess of BPL cards and thereby PDS defeating its own purpose. Further, one of the foremost criticisms levelled against PDS is that it is urban biased and pro-rich (Dantwala 1976; Howes and Jha 1992; Dev and Suryanarayana 1991; Howes and Jha 1992; Parikh 1994). Perhaps one of the better ways to analyse the state of food security could be through assessing nutritional status of people across social groups. As per NFHs-4 (2014–15), infant mortality is the highest among Scheduled Castes (SC) followed by the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) (Table 8.1). Across social groups, women suffer the most from nutritional deficiencies (Table 8.2) compared with their male counterparts both in rural and urban areas. Poverty Poverty not only causes food insecurity, but it can also be a consequence of it. The lack of access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food leads an individual

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 123 Table 8.1 Health and nutrition indicators across social groups Indicators

Infant mortality

Under-5 mortality

Schedule castes Schedule tribes Other backward castes Others

45.2 44.4 42.1 32.1

55.8 57.2 50.8 38.5

Source: NFHS-4 (2014–15) (Figures are per thousand)

Table 8.2 Nutritional status of women and men across social groups

Caste Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes OBCs Others Region Rural areas Urban areas

BMI less than normal (18.5) [Obese]

Prevalence of anaemia







57.5 58.3 56.3 55.3

22.9 25.2 20.3 16.3

17.3 10.0 20.8 26.9

15.0 9.8 19.6 23.7

55.9 59.8 52.2 49.9

23.6 31.8 21.9 20.1

26.8 15.5

23.0 15.5

15.1 31.4

14.3 26.6

54.2 50.8

25.2 18.4

Source: NFHS-4 (2014–15) (Figures are in per cent)

to lower cognitive and physical development which in turn increases his or her probability of falling into poverty trap because of lower developed skills and capabilities (Grantham-McGregor et al. 2007; FAO 2008). As a determinant, income has been treated as an important indicator of food insecurity and hunger (Rose 1999). India’s annual growth accelerated to about 8.5% on average during 2004– 09 from an average of 6.25% during 1993–94 to 2004–05 (IMF Working Paper, 2014). However, according to the household survey data, for the same period, the average rate of annual growth in per capita consumption expenditure was only half as measured in the National Accounts Statistics (NAS) (ibid). It further shrank to nearly 44% of the NAS growth rate during 2004–05 to 2009–10 (ibid). The decline in household consumption expenditure during this time period was a clear indication towards rising poverty trends still prevalent in the country. However, at the aggregate level, both rural and urban poverty has shown a decline from 45% in 1993–94 to 21.9% in 2011–12 (Table 8.3).

124  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon Table 8.3 Percentage and number of poor in India (1993–94 to 2011–12) Year

1993–94 2004–05 2009–10 2011–12

Poverty ratio (per cent)

Number of poor (million)







50.1 41.8 33.8 25.7

31.8 25.7 20.9 13.7

45.3 37.2 29.8 21.9

328.6 326.3 278.2 216.7

74.5 80.8 76.5 53.1

403.7 407.1 354.7 269.8

Note: This estimation is based on Tendulkar methodology. Source: Planning Commission Report, June 2014

The poverty ratio in the rural and urban areas declined respectively from 50% in 1993–94 to 25.7% in 2011–12, and from 31.8% in 1993–94 to 13.7% in 2011–12 (Table 8.3). In fact the decline in poverty ratios was much faster during the period 2004–05 to 2011–12 than during the earlier years of reform (Table 8.4). Over the years, there is an observed decline in poverty ratios in both rural and urban areas which is welcoming, however, the decline in poverty ratios of the rural areas has been slower than in urban areas (Table 8.4). Rural areas continue to have more poverty. The statewide analysis of poverty for the year 1993–94 shows prevalence of high poverty levels in Bihar (54.96%), followed by Odisha and Madhya Pradesh (Figure 8.1a). For the latest available year also, Bihar (33.7%) and Odisha (32.6%) have continued to show high poverty rates. A distinct feature observed in the Indian context is with respect social dimensions, namely caste, religion, gender and others being influential in determining high levels of poverty. Though poverty was observed to have declined intra-regionally, it is necessary to probe whether it has reduced deprivations and extreme conditions of poverty across social groups. In this context, Desai et al. (2010) found that while Forward Caste Hindus experienced a 12% poverty rate, Dalit poverty was more than two and half times as high (32%) and a crippling 50% of Adivasis were poor. Intermediate castes (OBCs, or Other Backward Classes) had, not surprisingly, intermediate levels of poverty (23%). Comparable estimates of poverty (Thorat and Dubey 2012) based on data from National Sample Survey also showed that Dalit poverty was more than two and half times higher and nearly 50% of the Adivasis also suffered from deplorable conditions of being poor similar inter-group differences. Rural poverty persistence confirmed that the most disadvantaged groups also realised the lowest rates of escape from poverty. The evidence is clear for Adivasis, while Dalits and especially OBCs occasionally show escape rates more similar to Forward Castes (Thorat 2010). For the latest available year, across Indian states in the rural areas, the state of Madhya Pradesh (35.5%) record highest rate of poverty among marginalised sections backward class living below the poverty line followed by

Table 8.4 Decline in poverty ratios per annum Period




1993–94 to 2004–05 2004–05 to 2011–12 1993–94 to 2011–12

0.75 2.32 1.36

0.55 1.69 1.01

0.74 2.18 1.30

Note: Based on Tendulkar methodology; poverty ratios are percentage points per annum.

60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Tripura








Madhya Pradesh



Himachal Pradesh


Dadra and NagarHaveli



Andhra Pradesh

1993-94 1999-00


poverty raos

Source: Planning Commission Report, June 2014


Figure 8.1a  Poverty at sub-national level (1993–94 to 1999–2000)

poverty rao

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India Note: Estimation is based on Lakdawala methodology.

70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

2004-05 2011-12


Figure 8.1b  Poverty at sub-national level (2004–05 to 2011–12) Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India Note: Estimation is based on Tendulkar methodology.

126  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon Odisha and Bihar (Table 8.5). In the Urban areas Bihar has high poverty levels (31.2%) followed by Uttar Pradesh (26.1%) and Jharkhand (24.8%). With the labour market being categorised as an organised and unorganised sector (Table 8.6), high incidence of poverty (20.5%) is in general Table 8.5  Proportion of persons belonging to BPL families by social groups (2011–12) States

Andhra Pradesh Assam Bihar Chhattisgarh Gujarat Haryana Himachal Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Odisha Punjab Rajasthan Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand West Bengal India





OBC Others Total ST


OBC Others Total

24.1 33.4 59.3 52.6 36.5 3.3 9.5 16.3

13.1 28.2 51.7 48.2 22.3 23.6 16.5 18.8

9.3 6.8 34.4 34.9 31.3 23.3 38.7 7.7 18.9 6.1 13.4 3.3 2.3 7.0 7.5 10.2

11.0 33.9 34.1 7.7 6.1 3.3 7.0 10.2

12.1 15.6 10.3 35.2 30.1 14.2 4.0 3.0

10.9 30.5 43.0 39.5 12.7 25.9 9.9 18.0

5.5 4.3 11.0 21.2 32.9 17.8 24.9 10.6 15.3 5.1 12.9 4.9 9.9 1.7 4.1 6.1

5.8 20.6 31.2 24.8 10.1 10.3 4.3 7.2

51.6 30.8 41.0 55.3 61.6 63.5 – 41.4 36.8 27.0 11.9 50.1 45.3

40.4 37.1 17.8 41.3 23.8 41.4 14.7 18.6 23.3 41.1 15.6 22.6 31.5

36.4 20.7 7.6 24.7 18.2 24.2 3.6 8.5 12.9 30.7 14.4 19.0 22.6

31.3 21.6 9.1 35.7 24.2 35.7 7.7 16.1 15.8 30.4 11.6 22.5 25.7

28.7 33.7 13.6 32.3 23.3 39.7 7.2 21.7 2.8 16.3 25.7 44.5 24.1

40.6 25.0 6.0 33.2 15.8 26.3 18.3 19.2 9.3 39.1 9.3 15.7 21.7

28.2 15.0 5.7 21.0 8.7 22.1 14.0 12.0 6.3 32.1 19.1 15.7 15.4

24.8 15.3 5.0 21.0 9.1 17.3 9.2 10.7 6.5 26.1 10.5 14.7 13.70

31.3 21.6 7.0 19.6 16.5 14.2 1.1 3.8 1.0 12.5 9.0 20.0 15.50

12.5 8.8 2.7 13.1 6.0 6.7 3.8 3.6 1.8 12.8 6.4 13.1 8.10

Source: Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 3302 and Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 924

Table 8.6 Poverty ratios of workers by industry and sector, 2004–05 Industry

UnorAll unor- All Total ganised ganised organised Unorganised Organised workers in workers workers sector sector organised sector


20.5 17.2 24.1 20.6 19.3 25.5 20.5

Total Rural Urban Non Total agriculture Rural Urban All Total

Source: NCEUS 2007

All workers in

16.5 11.2 10.4 10.7 12.0 10.7 11.3

18.9 17.0 20.4 18.7 17.0 20.7 18.7

20.5 17.2 23.7 20.4 19.2 25.1 20.4

13.8 3.5 4.3 4.1 5.4 4.5 4.9

20.4 15.7 19.6 17.8 18.7 21.0 19.3

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 127 Table 8.7 Poverty ratios among farmers by socio-religious groups and land (possessed) size classes, rural 2004–05 Land size

Hindu Hindu Hindu Hindu upper Muslims Other All STs SCs OBCs castes religions

Landless Sub-marginal Marginal Small Medium-large All

68.4 41.5 34.4 33.2 29.7 33.3

29.1 24.8 21.5 18.0 14.5 20.8

18.1 18.8 17.5 12.3 6.8 13.0

1.6 10.3 6.4 6.9 6.1 6.9

4.7 23.1 19.5 12.1 7.1 16.4

26.6 10.2 17.6 16.8 6.4 12.6

22.0 20.2 18.1 14.8 9.8 15.2

Source: NCEUS 2007

observed among workers in the unorganised sectors compared to poverty levels (11.3%) of those employed in the organised sector (Table 8.6). Industry wise incidence of poverty is highest in the agricultural sector (20.4%) compared to poverty levels observed for non-agricultural sectors (17.8%). The poverty ratios of farmers across socio-religious groups (Table 8.7) shows a higher incidence of poverty among Hindu STs (33.3%) followed by Hindu SCs (20.8%). Among them the landless farmers are plagued by extreme poverty with poverty ratios among the Muslims also being high (16.4%). The upper caste Hindus seem to record a low rate of poverty among farmers (6.9%). In addition to higher incidence of poverty across the marginalised section, there is also the problem of increased inequality, specifically in the post reform period. In fact, numerous studies have provided disaggregated estimates of poverty and inequality using the consumption expenditure data across states, among social groups and by selected attributes in India (Ahluwalia 1978; Sundaram and Tendulkar 2003; Chelliah and Shanmugam 2007; Thorat 2010; Kannan and Raveendran 2011; Himanshu and Sen 2014) and suggests increasing economic inequality within and among states of India and across social groups. This increasing trend in inequality levels is also observed in the consumption expenditure of households. For instance, inequality trends of the country since 1973–74 to 2004–05 (Table 8.8) show that in rural areas, the Lorenz ratio has increased from 0.27 in 1973–74 to 0.30 in 2004–05. In the urban areas again, it shows an increase from 0.30 in 1973–74 to 0.37 in 2004–05. The rural areas inequality levels were steadily declining from 1973–34 to 1983–84, while they have shown an increase since 1993–94. In urban areas, inequality levels have shown a steady increase all throughout. Unemployment One of the ways to explain issues surrounding poverty could be through exploring the phenomena of unemployment, as unemployment mirrors rising income inequality, loss of human capital and skill, ill-health, migration,

128  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon Table 8.8 Indices of poverty and inequality in terms of poverty ratio, and Lorenz ratio in India Year

1973–74 1977–78 1983–84 1987–88 1993–94 2004–05

Poverty ratio

Lorenz ratio






56.4 53.1 45.7 39.1 37.3 28.7

49 45.2 40.8 38.2 32.4 25.9

54.9 51.3 44.5 38.9 36 –

0.27581 0.33861 0.29759 0.29826 0.2819 0.305

0.30125 0.34481 0.33027 0.35369 0.3394 0.376

Source: Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India

social stigma and so forth. The problem of unemployment gains added attention given the current heightened discussion on demographic dividend according to which the population aged 15 to 59 years is set to increase in India from around 757 million in 2010 to 972 million in 2030. This indicates India will contribute to a substantial increase in global labour supply (Thomas 2014). If utilised effectively, it is expected to fuel India’s economic growth trajectory. However, the most necessary condition for youth to be drivers of economic growth is through assuring availability of job on the one hand, on the other, enhanced education level and scaled-up skills so as to equip them with the required industry specific skills. Over the years, along with an increase in population from 637.6 million in 1978 to 1,196.4 million in 2012, the labour force employed in the labour market also shows an increase from 255.8 million in 1978 to 562.9 million in 2012. Thereby the share of the working population increased from 30.8% in 1978 to 55% in 2012. In fact, the relative increase in the labour force is high compared with the population growth. Employment in India increased from 17,491 thousand in 1971 to 29,650 thousand in 2012, showing a 41% increase (T.S, D.R 2018). However, in the post reform period, employment rates have shown a decline from 58% in 1991 to 52% in 2017, whereas for the same period many countries have shown positive rate (World Bank, various years). Further, sectoral composition of employment indicates lopsided growth happening in India with a less focus on labour intensive industries. At present, it is observed that the services sector has outperformed other sector in terms of contribution to the overall economy. However, in terms of employment, agriculture supports 53% of the Indian workforce (Table 8.9). Despite this, compared with the agricultural sector, the non-farm sector is making rapid strides in terms of employment generation and contribution to GDP. Total employment growth in the non-agricultural sector is high at 3.49% from 1993–94 to 2004–05, relative to total employment growth of 0.40% in the agricultural sector (Table 8.10). Real wage rate for 1993–94

59.9 11.1 5.3 23.7

Agriculture Manufacturing Non-manufacturing Services

−0.53 1.06 0.03 2.88 0.01 2.74

2.89 −3.18 0.85 1.76 0.49 1.46

Source: Planning Commission Database 2014

Note: Wage rate is deflated by NAS consumption deflator.

Self-employment Wage employment Total employment Sector GDP Employment elasticity Real wage rate

1.01 −0.89 0.40 2.37 0.17 2.15

2.34 2.68 2.53 8.11 0.31 5.03

5.72 3.79 4.66 7.22 0.65 0.13

1999–2000 to 2004–05

3.86 3.18 3.49 7.71 0.45 2.77

1993–94 to 2004–05

1993–94 to 1999–2000

1993–94 to 2004–05

1993–94 to 1999–2000

1999–2000 to 2004–05

Non-agricultural employment growth rate

52.9 10.5 12.2 24.4

2004–05 to 2009–10

Agricultural employment growth rate

Table 8.10 Employment growth rate in agricultural and non-agricultural sector

Source: Planning Commission Database

1999–2000 to 2004–05

(1999-2000 to 2004-05 and 2004-05 to 2009-10)

Table 8.9 Share of employment across sectors at all India level

130  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon to 2004–05 is higher is non-agricultural employment. The increase in wages for manual work in the non-agricultural sector led to a gap in wages as between the two sectors (NCEUS 2007). Though the ratio declined from 0.66 in 1993–94 to 0.62 in 1999–00 but rose again in 2004–05. Across Indian states the highest agricultural wage paying states are Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu, while the low wage paying states were Gujarat, Jharkhand and Haryana (Agricultural Wages in India, 2015–16). In fact, high wage paying states are those that high scarcity of labour force. Jha (2006) argues that, because of the poor performance of agriculture, agricultural workers in large numbers have migrated to urban places and there is scarcity of agricultural workers. Labour unions also influence payment of high wages especially in states such as Kerala. The low wage paying states are also plagued by prevalent issues of migration of native workers to urban areas and farmers being compelled to employ migrant workers from other neighbouring states (Jha 2006; Eswaran et al. 2009; Venkatesh 2013). At the aggregate level, unemployment levels for both male and female across rural and urban areas have declined (Table 8.11). However, unemployment continues to prevail in both rural and urban areas. At the subnational level, unemployment rates across the states have shown variation for both rural and urban areas, with high rates of rural unemployment observed in Goa (11.8%) and urban unemployment observed in Kerala (13%) (Figure 8.2). Further, the recent survey on employment and unemployment in India conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) reported that employment in the country rose by 59.4 million between 1999–2000 and 2004–05. But during the subsequent five years, 2004–05 to 2009–10, net employment generated fell sharply to 4.7%, suggesting that this was a period of jobless growth with recovery in employment growth observed

Table 8.11 Trend in India’s unemployment rate (per 1,000 persons in the labour force) as per current daily status Round (year)

27th round (1972–73) 32nd round (1977–78) 38th round (1983) 43rd round (1987–88) 50th round (1993–94) 55th round (1999–00) 61st round (2004–05) 66th round (2009–10) 68th round (2011–12)







68 71 75 46 56 72 80 64 55

112 92 90 67 56 70 87 80 62

80 94 92 88 67 73 75 51 49

137 145 110 120 104 94 116 91 80

Source: NSSO 68th Round: Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2011–12

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 131

Figure 8.2 State-wise unemployed rate for persons aged 15 years and above on usual status basis in rural and urban areas of India (2015–16) Source: Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India

subsequently with 10 million new jobs registered between the surveys held in 2009–10 and 2011–12 (Thomas 2014). With an average annual economic growth of 6.1% from 2009 to 2014 corresponding to employment expansion of only 1.4% per year for the same period (Bolton 2016). Much of this employment was, however, observed in the vulnerable and the informal sector. Thus, there is an observed decline in labour productivity arising as a result of potential underemployment. Youth unemployment is projected to increase from 9.9% in 2013 to 10.4% in 2019 (Bolton 2016). If it is so, then it raises questions on to what extent we are really able to reap a demographic dividend in India. In addition to this, certain caveats associated with the expansion in employment (in absolute terms) are working against the process of Broad-Basing. These are discussed below. Gender bias in employment Female labour force participation in India has declined from 27.9% in 1990 to 24.5% in 2017, – by 3.4 percentage points, in the post-reform period. This is a matter of concern when compared with women’s share in India’s total population and also their share in a working population. Further, female workers are found in sectors which do not assure much in terms of earning and skill upgradation. For instance, female workers in rural areas showed a higher dependence on the agricultural sector with nearly 79% of them engaged in this sector, while secondary and tertiary sectors saw a miniscule proportion of 13% and 8% of females engaged respectively. In the urban areas again, tertiary sector played a dominant role in terms

132  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon of engaging a high proportion of both females (53%). Even the sectors in which females are employed in better proportion indicate the incidence of higher wage and occupation segregation (Chatterjee et al. 2018). Discrimination in the labour market against women employees further depresses the women and results in their leaving the labour market, preferring to stay indoors. Discrimination is observed in the case of educated women too, who are paid less than their junior male counterparts. For instance, the gender pay gap in India for the year 2013 was 24.81% and it increased with age and educational qualification (Varkkey and Rupa 2013). The rural women belonging to marginalised section are far worse off compared with their urban counterparts as well as rural upper caste women (Table 8.12). SC and ST rural women who work as casual workers receive just Rs. 34.7 as wages per day, which is lower than the wages received by the urban male and female as well as rural male and female population. The wages received by urban females and rural females working as casual workers are also low compared to their male counterparts. Thus, it is quite clear that the status of women in the labour market is considerably lower. However the comparison provided also shows that the status of urban women is significantly higher than rural male workers with nearly 37% being engaged as regular workers when compared with a just 9% of rural male employed as regular workers. Further, female unemployment levels are observed to be higher among professionally educated (Figure 8.3). Past studies have suggested that both cultural factors, such as norms restricting the mobility of women, and structural factors, such as a lack of appropriate job opportunities for educated women, play important roles in determining the U-shaped relationship between women’s education and labour force participation in India (Das and Desai 2003; Das 2006). Table 8.12 Rural-urban differences between men and women workers 2004–05 Indicator

Urban men Urban Rural men Rural Rural women women women (SCs/STs)

Percentage of regular 40.6 workers in total workforce Percentage of workers 44.4 with education secondary and above Wages of casual 74.3 workers (Rs. per man-day) Percentage of 1.4 workers with only subsidiary work Source: NCEUS 2007

















Unemployment rate (per 1000)

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 133 not literate literate & upto primary middle secondary higher secondary diploma cerficate course graduate & above

secondary & above

Figure 8.3 Unemployment rate for persons with usual status of age 15 years and above with differential education Source: NSSO 68th Round: Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2011–12

Characteristics of employment/unemployment in India If one has to locate the type of employment generated over the years and its characteristics, self-employment followed by casual labour has increased over the years, but regular/wage/salaried employment has not seen much increase (Figure 8.4). The distribution of unorganised worker across expenditure class indicates a strong relationship of poverty with informal employment as 90% from poor and vulnerable groups found in casual workers followed by selfemployed (74.7%) (Table 8.13). Of the total increase in employment, a large proportion of workers were employed in the informal sector with a very small proportion in the formal sector (Table 8.14). This shows that the unorganised sector, which lacks basic social security, constitutes nearly 99% of the employment involving unorganised workers alone.

Discussion The empirical evidence above indicates that economic development in India has not helped much positively to bring the marginalised sections of the society into the mainstream; rather it has brought a new set of challenges. We have taken three probable factors to explain the phenomenon. It includes issues pertaining to governance, characteristics of economic planning and, social sector spending in India. The World Bank Governance Index shows that India’s position has either worsened or remained unchanged between 2005–06 and 2015–16. Though, India improved its ranking by 13 positions, moving to 111 from 124 among 214 regions in terms of corruption, it fell by one position on government

usually unemployed 68th round(2011-12) 66th round(2009-10) 38th round(1983)

61th round (2004-05) 55th round(1999-00)

50th round(1993-94) 43rdround(1987 -88)

Figure 8.4  Per 1,000 distribution of usually employed by broad category of employment Source: NSSO 68th Round: Employment and Unemployment Situation in India, 2011–12

Table 8.13  Percentage distribution of unorganised workers across expenditure classes Status


Self employed

Regular wages

Casual workers

Poor and vulnerable Higher income group Total

78.7 21.3 100.00

74.7 25.3 100.00

66.7 33.3 100.00

90.0 10.0 100.00

Source: NCEUS 2007

Table 8.14 Relationship between sector and type of employment (UPSS), all workers (1999–2000 and 2004–05) Sector

Total employment (in millions) Informal/ Formal/organised Total unorganised worker worker

1999–2000 Informal/unorganised sector 341.3(99.6) Formal/organised sector 20.5(37.8) Total 361.7(91.2) 2004–05 Informal/unorganised sector 393.5(99.6) Formal/organised sector 29.1(46.6) Total 422.6(92.4) Source: NCEUS 2007

1.4(0.4) 33.7(62.2) 35.0(8.8)

342.6(100) 54.1(100) 396.8(100)

1.4(0.4) 33.4(53.3) 34.9(7.6)

394.9(100) 62.6(100) 457.5(100)

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 135 effectiveness (to 90 from 89) and political stability (to 181 from 180), by eight positions on rule of law (to 100 from 92), by three positions on regulatory quality and retained its ranking on accountability of public institutions. The concept of good governance is specifically prominent in the area of food supply and food security, wherein governance deficits and failures greatly contribute towards the persistence of hunger and malnutrition. Good governance essentially calls for accountability and transparency in the functioning of schemes such that the needs of the target population are met. Additionally the principles of good governance also necessitate mobilisation of social groups and synergy among existing schemes to ensure the trickling down of welfare schemes. There is an apparent recognition that rules, governing regimes, and political processes play a significant role in enabling or restraining the pathways to food security (FAO 2011). In this background, a quick overview of India’s welfare scheme indicates that since independence, on an average, there are a minimum of two to three new schemes implemented in a year and a maximum of eight to nine schemes in a decade. Most often just before elections or in the year preceding the election year, populist measures and schemes are implemented that appear more as an election propaganda (see for details: Verma 2012; Kumar 2014; Banerjee et al. 2011). Despite this, the fundamental problem persisting in Indian economy remains unattended largely due to the lack of coordination between the centre and the states and inadequacies with regard to successful implementation of these schemes. For instance the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was implemented for self-employment and based on its experience several complementary schemes were introduced in a bid to overcome the prevailing problems of poverty and unemployment. However IRDP was found incapable of enabling the poor to rise above the poverty line through sound project formulation and implementation (Shylendra and Bhirdikar 2005). To overcome the problems posed by IRDP, the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) was implemented with a move from targeting individual beneficiaries to targeting group beneficiaries. While the SGSY did attempt to conform to the provisions of good governance, it failed in its attempt to facilitate and ensure self-reliance among the groups or SHGs. The concept of group mobilisation failed to achieve finances and did not receive support from NGOs and other government agencies and thereby it defeated an important requirement under the new ‘good governance’ paradigm under SGSY (Shylendra and Bhirdikar 2005). Similarly the performance of PDS is plagued by inefficiency, leakages, poor targeting of the poor and so forth. Khera (2011) indicates that there is considerable variation across states in the efficiency of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). Thus, it is essential that increasing economic growth should enhance participation and improve access of beneficiaries to social welfare programs. The additional problem observed in India is the introduction of numerous schemes and their subsequent mergers causing chaos and confusion among beneficiaries. Thus, instead of floating a large

136  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon number of welfare schemes, the government should seriously improve the governance of existing welfare schemes. The second factor that explains the paradox of growth not much helping the Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy relates to the pattern of growth followed in India since independence. Mahatma Gandhi had visions for a need to go back to villages and sow the seeds of development at the grass root level prior to achieving progress in industry and manufacturing. Unfortunately, in the Indian planning system the village system of development was given a back seat and exclusive focus was laid on improvements in manufacturing and industry. The bureaucratic and other administrative issues prevalent during those years further added to the woes of an already failed system. China, on the other hand, recognising the importance of village economy in economic growth, adopted cooperative societies that proved to be very successful. The advent of the green revolution definitely contributed to India’s progress in agriculture; however the growth rate has been just 2.5% that is considered less spectacular compared to 4.6% growth observed in China (Bosworth and Collins 2008). In addition to this, in the post reform period, the importance attached to service sector further aggravated the lopsided development in India. Though India’s growth in the services sector matched the performance observed in China, it has achieved those gains with only a very modest contribution from increased capital per worker (Bosworth and Collins 2008). A third factor that explains the paradox is related to social sector expenditure in India. For instance, public spending on health in India increased from 0.22% of GDP in 1950–51 to 1.05% during the mid-1980s and stagnated at around 0.9% since 2000 (Jha 2014). Despite increases in public expenditure on health as share of GDP, per capita expenditure on health, and overall increase in the central health budget (from Rs. 1,670 crore in 1991–92 to Rs. 7,851 crore in 2003–04), we see a decline in transfer to states in the form of grants-in-aid as transfers to states as proportion of total budget of the Ministry of Health declined from 57 to 44% within this period (NCMH report, 2005). However, countries like Nepal, the Maldives, Vietnam and others have high social protection insurance despite showing a lower GDP per capita. This definitely throws light on the prevailing conditions in the performance of social protection policies. A similar scenario is observed with regard to fiscal provision for education. Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP fell from a high of 4.3 in 1999 and 2000 to 3.1% in 2005 and 2006 before rising marginally to 3.3 in 2010 (Jha 2014). In addition to this, India has been facing a very serious skill deficiency. As per the Planning Commission’s Subcommittee (2009) on ‘Remodeling India’s Apprenticeship Regime’ nearly 53% of the employed youth suffer from some degree of skill deprivation. Considering the fact that, in India dropout rates seem higher than enrolment rates (Skill Development in India 2015), the desire for a skilled India will seem far from impossible. As per one estimation, net enrolment in vocational

Broad-Basing process in the Indian economy? 137 courses in India is about 5.5 million per year compared to 90 million in China and 11.3 million in the United States. A mere 2% of Indian workers are formally skilled (Dilip 2012). A study by FICCI (2015) identified factors responsible for high unemployment along with stagnant skill development in the country. They include low literacy level, formally skilled workforce being less than 3% of the total workforce, inadequate training capacities, and high level of unemployment among highly educated individuals. In this context, India has a lot to learn from countries like Germany, wherein formal education is combined along with real time experience at the workplace. Broad-Basing is difficult without significant expansion in the growth of skilled employment. Let me now summarise the chapter. Indian economy, undoubtedly, in the last seven decades has made its mark on the global economic map. However, the fundamental problems facing Indian economy have just changed its dimensions and appearance rather than being addressed from the root. For instance, attaining food security for the poor still appears to be elusive. At the macro level, though India has attained self-sufficiency in food grain production and buffer stock, at the household level this is not reflected in the availability of per capita food grain, cereals and pulses. Numerous limitations associated with PDS, makes distribution of available food grain a difficult task. A cumulative effect of this is that the nutritional parameter for the marginalised sections and women is much below the expected norm. Although in an absolute count, number of people living below the poverty line declined substantially in the post reform period, certain challenges still remain. For instance, rural areas encompassing agricultural population have a higher percentage of people living below the poverty line. The marginalised sections of the society still find it very difficult to escape from the poverty trap. The higher incidence of poverty in the unorganised sector further mirrors the lopsided of industrial expansion in the post reform period. In addition to this, the rise in inequality levels, both in terms of income and consumption as well mirror how the process of economic reform is failing to bring people into the mainstream. With respect to employment, though the post-reform period has been able to increase the number of employment in the urban areas, it substantially failed to provide alternative employment in rural areas. Moreover, it could not much eliminate the pre-existing gender bias in employment. In a nutshell, the process of economic development in India has not significantly brought the marginalised sections of the society into the mainstream. The government needs to think beyond the conventional wisdom in policy making. Improving food production is okay, but its distribution especially among the poor needs more emphasis so that the incidence of under-nutrition and malnutrition is wiped out. Instead of floating additional welfare schemes in every financial budget, emphasis should be placed on strengthening and improving the administration of existing schemes so that its reach and scope for real beneficiaries is extended and thereby the

138  Malini L. Tantri and Shruthi Mohan Menon problems related to poverty and unemployment are tackled in a real sense. Meanwhile, besides improving government outlay on education, efforts should be placed to improve the skill level of youth so that they facilitate Indian economy to reap the demographic dividend. Because, the most necessary condition for youth to be drivers of economic growth is through assuring availability of job on the one hand, and on the other, enhance education level and upscale the skills so as to equip them with the required industry specific skills. Meanwhile, emphasis should be put on improving the village economy of India in light of Gandhi’s vision so as to provide alternative employment for the disguised unemployed dependent on agriculture.

Notes 1 See Chapter 1 for the limitations of the trickle-down process as against the BroadBasing process. 2 But the share of FDI as a% of GDP increased marginally from 0.07 in the 1990s to 3.08% in the year 2015. 3 Accordingly the share of exports and imports as a% of GDP increased from 7.13 and 8.55% (1990) to 19.44 and 22.25%, respectively (2015). 4 As per the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of suicides by farmers stood at 12,602 with the highest number of farmer suicides (18,241) being reported in 2004. As of 2016, an increasing rate of farmer suicide was reported from five states: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The Census 2011 also reports that at present there are just 95.8 million cultivators for whom farming is an occupation, a decline from 103 million in 2001 and 110 million in 1991 (The Hindu 2016). 5 See for detail: Shylendra and Bhirdikar (2005), Bosworth and Collins (2008) and Jha (2014). 6 Undoubtedly, the Indian government made sustained interventions for promoting food security, starting with the green revolution in the 1960s, the mechanisation of agriculture since the 1970s, the more recent passing of the National Food Security Bill in 2013 and various other programmatic interventions such as the National Food Security Mission and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. Despite this, India is still plagued with multiple issues, which are causes or effects of food insecurity.

9 Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? R. S. Deshpande

Introduction Undoubtedly, one of the major landmarks in India’s recent development strategy has been its thumping entry along with the breakneck velocity it achieved in spreading the digital revolution. India is now among the world’s leading countries on digital knowledge creation and its dissemination. India’s move into digital technology was initially slow and cautious. It is known that the opening phases of the introduction of digital technology met with stiff resistance from the ‘left-block’, but that antagonism soon subsided. Today, the progress of digitisation in India is just unimaginable and the country stands shoulder to shoulder with many developed countries. This increased substantially after the historical step of demonetisation on 8 November 2016. Digital technology involves computers with hardware, software developments, digitisation in financial sector, use in service sector, telecommunication, mobile use, personal identification sector (Aadhar), swap cards, biometrics and many such uses. Today, there are many sectors where one cannot proceed even at the entry without some basic understanding of the digital technology. The Government of India commenced 12 significant initiatives to cover many aspects through the digital revolution and reach many sectors which were hitherto out of digital ambit. A few years back, India’s mobile data use was just 200 million gigabytes (GB)/month, which was less than half of that of Japan, or one-third of that of the United States (700 million GB/month), and even at that we were very proud of it. About a year back, our data use reached to 1,000 million GB/ month leaving a few giants behind (surprisingly the United States – 710 GB/ month; China – 630 GB/month; Japan – 470 GB/month) (Mashelkar 2017). The investment in digital technology in 2014 was just 10% of the total incremental investment in the entire industrial sector and that reached about 35% by 2018, just during the last four years (NAASCOM 2017a). The growth in the IT sector improved by 59% and has reached near Rs. 12,000 crores and that adds to the total of Rs. 46,000 crores by the year end 2018 (GoI 2018a). On the employment front, IT/ITES sector employs directly 3.968 million workers (2017–18; GoI 2018a). The mega trends observed in

140  R. S. Deshpande the NASSCOM study of May 2018 bring out massive information about the digital future of India, and one is baffled by the onslaught of this futuristic scenario (NAASCOM 2017b; KPMG 2018). NAASCOM also brought out an excellent document in the earlier year that speaks of inclusivity of all the SMEs and other new entrants with a window on the new technologies (NAASCOM 2017a). The ITES and BPO now contribute almost a quarter of India’s IT exports and provides about 2 lakh incremental jobs every year. Today we have almost 730 million Internet users in India and a large number of them reside in rural India. The initial dread about the technology and its possible influence on the employment and economy slowly receded and enthusiasm to reach digitalisation replaced that. Half of the Fortune 500 companies are based in the emerging market economies which will paint the future development scenario, and many of them are in India (GoI 2018b). It is expressed that India with the present speed can achieve sustainable growth in technology and can also take to the inclusivity, a goal cherished by the Indian policy makers (Dutz 2007). It has been internationally recognised that the digital technology can help to enhance large social benefits and reduced significantly the transaction cost. The connectivity between people and handling of the large amount of big data became much easier, making the communication easier and effective. This has provided a larger window of demand for innovation and applicability (Aitkinson et al. 2008). Given this spread and speed of the digital technology, we may have doubts about the regional spread and individual accessibility to the digital technology. Do all those who desire access get that access, or are there any sort of strong barriers? In short, is the digital technology Broad-Basing itself and reaching far and wide? Theoretically, the most accepted traditional paradigm states that the adoption of technology is a direct function of income and well-being of the household. Any new technology is incorporated only after the basic life needs are satisfied and a person finds additional resources to invest for getting into the new technology. Therefore, one can legitimately expect that density of have-nots will be inversely related to the rate of adoption of any new technology and the digital revolution may not stand out as an exception. This second theoretical belief, perpetuated for a long time, relates to the perceived necessity of being literate to accept a new technology. It is true that any technology will require knowledge of alphabets and numerals. Technological skill is also a necessary ingredient while interfacing with the new technology. Given these theoretical constructs, one could have expected a very slow progress of the digital technology in India and its spread across regions and population groups. However, it surprises any analysts when one confronts the data on many components of the digital technology and its spread. Indian telephones took 50 long years to reach 50 million users, mobile technology took 12 full years to reach their first 50 million, while Facebook and Twitter took three and two years respectively to achieving this feat. Unpredictably, Jio technology took only 83 days to reach its 50 million users, and they continue to use of the Jio technology

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 141 (Mashelkar 2017). Jio uses the latest VoLTE technology (Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE)) and is a new protocol for transmitting voice data over the LTE network. This provides not only a new platform, data and accessibility but also easy admittance to the Internet and information. There is something totally different with the digital revolution as compared to the other technological interventions taking place in Indian economy. Muhleisen Martin (2018) explained in an elaborate piece the long and short digital revolution that has been taking place in the world over and changing the quality of life and ease of business. It is widespread and intensifying at exponential speed across sectors the world over (ECLAC 2018). Some of the important questions crop up here about this change in the form of a huge tidal wave of technology. First, will the new digital technologies be accessible to all in a developing economy with wide rural divergences? Second, even if it becomes accessible through lowering of the cost, will it be easily adaptable by a majority of low literate population? Third, are the technologies fully protected and will Broad-Basing these create problems for economically weaker groups of the society? In this paper, I make an attempt to understand these questions in the context of Broad-Basing of digital technology and seek the determinants of its spread. These issues assume importance as the high speed with which the technology is spreading across the society and income classes seem to challenge the very fundamental theorems of the economics of technological change. In this context of diffusion of the technology, Bronwyn succinctly elaborates the process: Diffusion can be seen as the cumulative or aggregate result of a series of individual calculations that weigh the incremental benefits of adopting a new technology against the costs of change, often in an environment characterized by uncertainty (as to the future evolution of the technology and its benefits) and by limited information (about both the benefits and costs and even about the very existence of the technology). Although the ultimate decision is made on the demand side, the benefits and costs can be influenced by decisions made by suppliers of the new technology. The resulting diffusion rate is then determined by summing over these individual decisions. (Bronwyn et al. 2004: 3).

Path and process of digital revolution The process of digital revolution in India began with the Department of Electronics laying emphasis on manufacturing indigenously some of the instruments of electronic computing during 1971–78 and progressed thereafter by leaps and bounds (Rajaraman 2012 deals with its full history). Initially, this was mainly confined to introduction of the third generation mainframe computers and the access and applications were extremely selective. Then suddenly there was a revolt against the technology in 1977, and

142  R. S. Deshpande IBM was asked to have equity with the Government of India. As a result, the Indian digital revolution proceeded at a slow speed till 1977 and when IBM was compelled to have GoI equity, IBM wound up their business in India. This was consequent to the strong demonstrations by the employees of banks and public sector against introduction of the digital technology. The argument centred on the perception that it would cause unemployment, displace labour and affect the future employment growth adversely. This would finally impact already adverse income distribution (Brandes and Wattenhofer 2016). These arguments did not last long on the Indian soil and computers along with the digital technology steadily made inroads during the two following decades. Soon, in the early eighties (1984–86) the digital technology knocked the doors and entered Indian markets with the UNIX operating system (Ramasubramanian 2010). The real breakthrough came in 1991, with the fourth generation computers. That actually flagged the beginning of the digital revolution and after that the process did not halt but progressed with breakneck speed to make India one of the leading digitalsavvy countries. The Indian electronics sector witnessed a change through the formation of NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Company). NASSCOM successfully lobbied the Government of India and brought in the digital revolution that spilled out from computing to other applications (NASSCOM 2017a). The real change occurred in 1998, when the Government of India declared the IT industry as the vanguard for India’s progress (Infosys 1998–99). Subsequently, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology was renamed in 2016 as the Ministry of Electronics and Technology after separating Communication. The technological transformation was taking place at a fast speed. Initially, it began with the analog signal technology that was soon replaced by the efficient transfer of frequencies through digital transfers. Cell phone with analog technology became common initially and were soon replaced by the digital phones. FDMA, TDMA and CDMA1 technologies entered the digital techno sphere and made technology accessible to many at a time. The digital technology was capturing every field as the transfer of data in volume and speed became feasible. This was taking place with enormous speed. On one side the speed of transfer of data was increasing through megahertz, gigahertz, terahertz and on the other side the storage of data increasing by trillions of bytes. The storage capacities increased from kilobytes to megabytes, gigabytes to terabytes and proceeded further to petabytes, zettabytes and yottabytes. Cloud storage stretched the limits of data storages to unimaginable space. Both speed of data transfer, processing and the quantum of storage opened up the incredible potentials and applications. Indian digital technologists by then had spread over the world and had acquired important positions all over. Digital technologies were also spreading across all the sectors through the wide range of their applications. Initially, it was the data and data processing through computers and networking that brought in an ease of access to the needed data and data sources. The financial and banking sector had

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 143 significant transformation through the digital technologies and these financial institutions could achieve ease of business through the new digital technology (Som 2017). All the distances were shortened and one could transfer or receive all sorts of data on a real-time basis. This was further enhanced through Internet technology and that entered into cloud-based technology. At the individual level, the initial application was for availing banking services and introducing ease in transaction at the same time enhancing accountability (RBI 2018). This was closely associated and the simultaneous introduction of television and picture transfer technology became available that had wider applications. The most important digital application was in the field of communication, initially helping the landlines to be effective the electronic exchanges and then introducing personalised mobile telephones. The mobile technology was based on the fastest signal transferring technology with pre-assigned bandwidth. Along with communication, mobile technology had wide ranging applications and these are increasing almost on a real-time basis. There have been rapid changes after 2001, in the Indian economy especially about the asset holdings. People preferred modern assets and many of these are digitally connected assets. What one observes from Table 9.1 is the sea change that has happened during the decade beginning with 2001. Availing of the banking services has increased by 24% Table 9.1 Change in ownership of digitally connected and other assets by rural and urban families (per cent of the sample) Sl no. Amenities/assets Rural



2001 2011 Change 2001 2011 Change 2001 2011 Change 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Availing banking services Television Telephone Mobile Computer/ laptop Scooter/ Motorcycle/ moped Car/van/jeep None of assets including radio/ transistor/ cycle

30.1 54.4


18.9 33.4 14.5 3.8 3.1 −0.7 NA 47.9 NA NA 5.1 NA 6.7 14.3


1.3 2.3 1 40.5 22.9 −17.6

Note: NA – Data not available Source: NSSO respective surveys

49.5 67.8


64.3 76.7 12.4 23.0 5.9 −17.1 NA 64.3 NA NA 18.7 NA 24.7 35.2 5.6 19.0


9.7 4.1 7.0 −12

35.5 58.7


31.6 76.7 45.1 9.1 4 −5.1 NA 53.2 NA NA 9.4 NA 11.7 21


2.5 4.7 2.2 34.5 17.8 −16.7

144  R. S. Deshpande households in rural areas as against about 18% households in urban areas. Significant change has taken place in the ownership of mobile computers and televisions. This change is significant in rural areas despite the fact that average income levels in rural areas are far below the average income of urban areas. Probably, that challenges the income barrier hypothesis in acceptance of the digital technology. Increase in the tele-density in the rural and urban areas of India has been quite significant during the last decade. We can observe from Figure 9.1 that the tele-density started increasing significantly after 2006 at a very fast rate in urban areas and fast but at a slower rate in the rural areas. This pace of digitisation through the tele-density is quite a significant change that can be observed. The tele-density is measured as the ownership of telephones per hundred owners. The combined tele-density of wireless and wireline telephones is given in table 9.2. The growth can be seen very fast in both rural and urban areas, whereas in rural areas the tele-density has increased from 33.8 to 52.9, registering an increase of almost 20 over the years. Whereas in the urban areas the increase has been only eight and an overall increase is about 17.8. That clearly indicates that the tele-density contribution from the rural areas is quite high. The cumulative telephone connections by May 2017 was 1,180 million, of which 676 million are from urban areas whereas 504 million are from rural areas. Once again we find that rurality has not been a restraint for accepting the digital technology.


160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Rural


Figure 9.1 Tele-density: urban and rural 2001–14 Source: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, New Delhi press releases on the website www.

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 145 Increase in the tele-density has been largely due to the participation of the private sector players aggressively in the market. The increase in the tele-density at the very high speed is due to the aggressive marketing by the private players as this business is quite profitable to them. Additionally there are quite a few applications on the mobile that are user-friendly, including some of the professional applications providing advice to the farmers on the weather and crop situations. The trends in tele-density in India are shown in Table 9.2 across rural urban areas and the public and private sector. The tele-density in rural areas has grown at a significantly higher growth in rural areas even though the quantum of tele-density is higher in the urban region. The private sector participation has been quite significant and therefore, it is very clear that the rural India is investing in digital technology for their personal use. Therefore, the increase in the tele-density is both due to the demand push as well as supply force. We can see that the private sector has its significant role in the increase of tele-density in India. Anybody would expect that the private players would exclude the lower income groups however, given the density figures this does not seem to have happened, and we will revisit this issue in the latter part of the paper. Presently, it can be seen that the tele-density has increased from 2006 onwards due to the forceful presence of the private sector players and therefore, the connections have reached to 70 million from about less than 1 million in 2003. Once again it comes out that rural India accepted the digital technology faster than what was expected.

Table 9.2 Trends in tele-density in India (per 100 subscribers) Year








2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

0.93 1.21 1.49 1.55 1.73 2.34 5.89 9.46 15.11 24.31 33.83 39.26 41.05 44.01

10.37 12.2 14.32 20.79 26.88 38.28 48.10 66.39 88.84 119.45 156.94 169.17 146.64 145.46

3.58 4.29 5.11 7.02 8.95 12.74 18.22 26.22 36.98 52.74 70.89 78.66 73.32 75.23

3.23 3.65 3.87 3.76 3.77 3.61 3.61 3.44 3.27 3.14 2.91 2.66 2.47 2.30

0.35 0.64 1.24 3.26 5.18 9.13 14.61 22.78 33.71 49.60 67.98 76.00 70.85 72.94

3.2 3.64 4.04 4.27 4.74 5.48 6.32 6.94 7.71 8.99 10.55 10.77 10.62 9.68

0.38 0.65 1.07 2.75 4.21 7.26 11.9 19.28 29.27 43.75 60.34 67.89 62.69 65.55

Source: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, New Delhi press releases on the website www.

146  R. S. Deshpande Public


Figure 9.2 Tele-density trends: public and private connections Source: Table 9.3

Overcoming techno-phobia The digital revolution confronted one of the most difficult challenges usually present in any developing economic culture. Clifford Stoll in 1995 came out with an interesting book arguing for the second thought on information highway. The title of the book is very provocative (Silicon Snake Oil), which invites readers to have a second thought on the digital superhighway and provides a valuable counterpoint to the euphoria prevailing about the new digital wave (Stoll 1995). The major argument of Silicon Snake Oil is the technocratic belief that computers and networks will make a better society and that is countered by Stoll. Assumption that better communications, and electronic access to large information can help to cure social problems is taken critically. Simple access to information however, may not solve every problem but analytical processing will surely help in reaching solutions faster than with the traditional technology. Steigler took the argument further to warn about the philosophical and prescriptive exposition of the condition of existence within current Western ‘hyper-industrial’ societies (Steigler 2011). When the technology is superimposed on the existing culture of a developing economy usually meets with strong resistance. The two authors wrote with a significant time gap of 16 years but expressed similar opinions, and in between Norris Pippa wrote about the famous ‘Digital Divide’ taking into consideration civic engagement, poverty and information on the Internet (Norris 2001). He argued that the information technology may not reach the people who are poor and have less access to resources. As a result two opposite groups will be created by the digital

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 147 revolution, namely the one very familiar with the digital technology and other completely unfamiliar causing a divide of the society for access to information. This may cause perpetual knowledge exploitation. The argument was taken further by Mossberger et al. (2013), and put forth the concept of ‘virtual inequality’ that goes to explain the digital divide as well as the methods to overcome these. These arguments which were made about two decades back held the sway for quite some time, however, when the Social Security was also being handed by the digital applications and the poorest of the poor started getting direct benefits to their bank accounts, which were hitherto not available to the poor and that changed the entire force of the argument. This happened in India in the wage payment of MGNREGS. Surely there were quite a few authors even on Indian side who have had their problems with the propagation of the digital technology at the speed at which it was going on. There is certainly a psychological embargo which is known as ‘technophobia’ that manifests itself in nonaccepting a new technology due to various fears about the technology and its applications. Many times even a small glitch is magnified in order to denounce the technology and create a fear psychosis about the technology in the minds of the users. Such critics confront three important psychological perceptions. First, most of the people using the traditional methods were quite comfortable and conversant with those methods and processes. The change over to a new process or a new method created an unknown fear among the users. This fear generated due to the new vocabulary and syntaxes were further enhanced by the technologists who wanted to ensure their position by using gobbledygook or complex vocabulary. Second, the spread of the new digital technology has its own hurdles in the form of new investment required, which was not coming through and the domestic capital flow in this sector that is usually very cautious. Therefore, the spread of the technology was slow and staggered. Reaching the digital technology to the nooks and corners of this vast country posed therefore, a great challenge. Third, the traditional technologies depend on the usual logical cycle starting with purchase – use – maintain – reuse – exchange with new – and/ or refurbish. The new digital technology discards the instrument (hardware or software) immediately after it goes out of use or has a difficulty in operations. Also when a new version is available, the old version is sent to the junk pile. This does not necessarily fit in the use pattern of traditional technology users. For example: if a computer/mobile is purchased, it is expected by the user to repair and reuse it or exchange and replace it but with the new technology, only the scrap and purchase method is followed. Many times the new instrument has a different operational system and vocabulary that creates a kind of instrument related phobia. The digital technology is also used in the banking sector and other service sectors including the government schemes. The recent introduction of digitising land records as being a vanguard in using digital technology for maintaining huge land records in India and the schemes were called ‘Bhoomi’

148  R. S. Deshpande and ‘UPOR’ in Karnataka. While the first scheme helped to maintain the rural land records and provide the farmers with the record of rights without any delay or corruption; the second scheme provided the record of rights for urban property. Computerisation of land records in the digital form has been recommended by the Indian Planning Commission over successive plans. However, this could not be achieved because the basic data had its own problems of pending mutations for years along with large number of litigations pending in various courts of law. Therefore, initially the records digitised under the scheme Bhoomi were questionable and the farmers had to face a lot of difficulty. Hence it took a long time and agony to settle down with the process of digitisation of land records. One good result of this experiment however, is the digital records of land holdings became available to the government and could be utilised for various purposes. One of the important steps taken by government of India recently includes 12 important digital interventions and each one of these are beneficial to the people as also the government. We may take a quick review of these schemes: (1) Digital locker: a scheme where, one can keep the scan copies of important original documents and safely store these with a password. Documents like voter ID card, Pan Card, BPL card, driving license, education certificates and land documents could be secured. That makes access only possible for the authentic person. (2) MyGov.In is a portal that works as an online platform to engage citizens in governance through a ‘Discuss’, ‘Do’ and ‘Disseminate’ approach. (3) The e-Sign framework enables individual to digitally sign a document online using Aadhar authentication. (4) Swachha Bharat Mission, for clean India project. (5) National Scholarship Portal, to deal with all issues pertaining to students scholarships. (6) The eHospital, to access specialised hospitals anywhere in the country (7) The Digitise India Platform, to help people to access the digitisation of data and records and digitise documents. (8) Bharat Net, through which one can access the highspeed digital highway that connects all 250,000 gram panchayats of the country. (9) Wi-Fi hotspots will provide high speed Internet connectivity through BSNL. (10) Next Generation Network: This service will replace 30-year-old telephone exchanges to manage all types of services like voice, data, multimedia and other types of communication services. (11) The Electronics Development Fund will support the manufacturing of electronics products that would help create new jobs and reduce import. (12) The Centre of Excellence of Internet on Things (IoT) will partnership with NASSCOM, DeitY and ERNET in Bangalore; Centre of Excellence will enable rapid adoption of IoT technology and encourage a new growth strategy. IoT will help the citizens in services like transport system, parking, electricity, waste management, water management and women’s safety to create smart cities, smart health services, smart manufacturing and smart agriculture and so forth (Sourced from Govt of India; International opinion about India as an innovation economy is changing. India had 76th rank in global innovation index in 2014, and now it has come to

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 149 the 60th rank, which is indicative of a strong innovation push (www.globa Our fears however about our capability and potential have not been doused yet. Even today we have many sceptics who may not herald the success of the technological revolution during recent past. Our fear is mainly about the employment loss or creation of new employment. A recent study published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that innovation and employment will surely go hand in hand in the long run, even though countries may face short-run glitches (OECD 2010). The opinion of the analysts could be summarised in what Brende wrote: The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution can help India leapfrog traditional phases of development and accelerate its transition to a developed nation. Deploying these technologies optimally and strategically can create a potent mix of resources and infrastructure that can yield better quality, more sustainable growth. With more than 50% of its population under the age of 27, India’s role is also going to be pivotal in shaping the global ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ agenda in a responsible, scalable and inclusive manner. (Brende 2018) All the efforts of Government of India are directed to ward off the technophobia resting deep in the minds of the users and make digitisation user friendly by overtaking techno-economic barriers.

Techno barriers versus economic barriers The spread of digital technology is hindered by a few barriers among them we may take only two namely the techno barriers and economic barriers for the purpose of discussion here. No doubt, the social barriers are extremely important as far as spread of technology is concerned however, the available data does not permit to touch with the social barriers. Despite this fact we tried to get into the use pattern of various technologies across rural and urban areas and the typology of the technology. In order to understand the barriers to technology especially in rural and urban areas we can consult Table 9.2. It was observed that the digital technology has spread at a very high speed in the rural areas as compared to the urban areas but this is true only about the tele-density in India. The wireless technology has been accepted mainly due to the less problems in this technology as compared to the wired telephones. The entry of the private sector in spreading of the tele-density in India is quite an important issue. In the year 2006, private service providers had tele-density as low as 4.21 as against the tele-density of 4.74 by the public service providers (Indian telephones). By the year 2014 the tele-density of the public sector stood at 9.68 as against the tele-density of the private players going about 65.55.

150  R. S. Deshpande In other words, privatisation has played a significant role in enhancing the speed of tele-density. The techno barriers to the spread of digital technology in India have not been felt so significantly during the last decade as against the decades earlier. India was not ready to accept the new changes happening in the digital technology especially in the usage of computers and the related applications in banking as well as service sector. Users used to be shy of operating through the digital applications their account or book on-the-journey tickets and so forth with the help of computers or websites. The confidence had not come because many of the users were not technically trained and that was one of the barriers impacting the spread of the technology. As regards the social barriers we can see from Table 9.3 that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have sufficiently good presents in availing the facility through digital technology. More than 50% of the Scheduled Castes and about 44% of the Scheduled Tribes use the banking facilities through digital technology. Similarly, the transactions done elsewhere are also significantly high in the backward social groups. Therefore no more we can call the social barriers impacting the acceptance of the technology. One of the major challenges posed by analysts about the introduction of new technology relates to job creation and the possibility of unequal world. This has been expressed by many and recently Lord Adair Turner, chairman of the UK-based Institute for New Economic Thinking, warned in an interview to a newspaper that the job creation will not be an easy task. He also reiterated these points in his lecture at Azim Premji University recently, speaking on ‘Resurrecting the Public’. He was warning that unemployment in India is projected to increase to 17.7 million in 2016 and 17.8 million by 2017. Prof. Turner recognised the creation of jobs in private sector but

Table 9.3 Change in ownership of modern assets by social groups (per cent of the sample) Sl no. Amenities/assets




2011 2001 2011 2001 2011 2001 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Availing banking services Television Telephone Mobile Computer/laptop Scooter/Motorcycle/moped Car/van/jeep None of assets including radio/ transistor/cycle

NA – Data not available Source: Census of India 2001 and 2011

50.9 39.1 3 47.5 6.4 12 1.8 22.6

25.1 21.2 3.4 NA NA 5.3 1 42.6

44.9 21.8 1.9 31.1 5.2 8.9 1.6 37.3

19.1 12 2.5 NA NA 4.1 0.8 54

58.7 76.7 4 53.2 9.4 21 4.7 17.8

35.5 31.6 9.1 NA NA 11.7 2.5 34.5

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 151 ignores the huge unorganised sector and skill sector created under spill over activities in the digital technology sector. He also sounded concerned about the international debt creation in various countries including India and especially in the real estate sector. He felt that there is hardly any wage pressure and that has to do with capacity building and therefore, he surmises that we need to think about universal basic income. It is true that in the recent past workers from organised as also unorganised sector have not been pushing forth about the wages which may have some strong reasons. First, as an overall cultural aspect in India the traditional trade union movements have slowed down quite possibly due to the multiplicity of trade unions as well as the strong political undercurrents by various political parties. Second, it is quite visible that the ratio between unorganised and organised workers had changed significantly under the pressure of increased unorganised sector workers. Therefore, the job creation as well as the definition of the job itself has changed significantly under the new technologies and new economic forces. There are however, a few economic barriers that hinder around the spread of the technology. Among the economic barriers, certainly affordability of the new technology and new instruments was a barrier for the first two decades after the introduction of the technology. However, the new innovations and new applications made the technology affordable either through computers or through mobiles and other devices. Possibly some of the costlier instruments are still not accessible to the poor and the middle class however, the mobile and mobile related technologies are not only affordable but accessed by most of the lower income groups. This increased affordability created a significant revolution today we have 295 million urban Internet users along with 186 million rural Internet users, adding to about 500 million Internet users. The potential Internet users estimated recently and reported in Times of India on 20 February 2018 is put at 732 million users.

Demonetisation: accelerator of the digital revolution The Indian Government announced ‘demonetisation’ on 8 November 2016 to bring out the hoarded stock of money held in high denominations, reduce corruption being carried out in the high denomination notes, bringing out the black money held in cash with people and money held avoiding taxes, counterfeit currency getting circulated in large amount in India and funding of the terrorist activities with the counterfeit currency (GoI 2018b). The Reserve Bank of India circular clearly brought out the object with which the step of demonetisation was taken. The use of high denomination notes had increased substantially between the period of 2004–05 and 2015–16. Initially in 2004–05 the high denomination notes in circulation where about 6% of the nominal GDP and that increased to 9.7% of the nominal GDP by 2015–16 (Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Module 13.1 on Contemporary themes, 2018b). ‘The currency in circulation by March 31,

152  R. S. Deshpande 2016 was Rs. 16,415 billion of which notes of Rs. 1,000 denomination account for 38.6 per cent (Rs. 6,326 billion) and Rs. 500 account for 47.8 per cent (Rs. 7,854 billion)’ (Charan Singh 2018: 7). The cash to GDP ratio in India was very high compared to the comparable economies is in the world. This was a worrisome situation as substantial amount of ‘bad money’ (money that did not pass through the legitimate tax structure) was out there in economy circulating for various detrimental activities including terrorism. Highest share of consumer transactions in India of about 98% with 68% value were cash based. Significant share of real estate transactions were taking place in cash of high denominations. Some of the estimates of black money in the country ranged between Rs. 3 crores and Rs. 7.3 lakh crores, but a lot of it is possibly held in terms of real estates, old, in other countries or any other form other than cash (GoI, Ministry of Finance, GOI 2018b). Among the arguments that is forwarded by a section of ill-informed journalists that as 99.3% of money came back to banking sector after the demonetisation and hence no black money was traced. This was the money held in cash and the volume was also quite huge. Only after the income tax scrutiny will it come out how much of this was unaccounted money and the genuine income. The number of income tax returns filed has increased by 99.43 lakhs (Economic Times, 2 May 2018). There are controversies about the policy and its impact on the Indian economy however, nobody contradicts that a large and amount of money held with public in terms of larger denomination notes has come out in circulation and in the accounting system through banks. It will take time to understand how much part of this money was through tax avoidance and other undesirable activities. Among the major fallouts of demonetisation, the increased digitisation in banking transaction is the prominent one. All the Indian banks were instructed to encourage digital transactions and the cash transactions are discouraged significantly, as demonetisation is a step towards improving tax compliance and getting justice to honest tax payers (Charan Singh, March 2018). Apart from demonetisation as a policy, the Reserve Bank of India also circulated quite a few policies in order to increase digital transactions in the economy and in the recent past the digital transactions increased significantly including in the rural areas. It is true that not everyone could participate in the economic transaction digitally but the facilities are created that each one connected with banking system or any financial system can resort to digital transaction in a safe manner as compared to a few years back. Therefore there is no doubt that the digital transactions have increased after demonetisation significantly and Economic Times reported that Unified Payment Interface (UPI) transactions have reached an all-time highest monthly mark of 200 million. NPCI data also confirms the significant increase in the transactions ( The digital business in October 2016 was reported as 0.0178 billion transactions with a value of Rs. 16.55 billion (Ref: Recently in the available data from the same source for August 2018 shows

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 153 that the digital transactions reached 0.11 billion and the value of these transactions was Rs. 109,214 billion. The growth is phenomenal and has been wide spread across banks. This significant effect of demonetisation is quite useful and even though the estimates of reduced cash transactions are yet to come out the increase in the number of individuals filing tax returns has increased substantially. It is here too, the share of those who filed returns digitally has increased substantially. Professor Charan Singh in his paper from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore brought out the likely impacts of demonetisation at various time period and even though many critics including the former prime minister called it ‘Organised Plunder’, I tend to agree more with the systematic analyses by Professor Charan Singh that has clarity and reasoning. It is now clear that the demonetisation step was surely beneficial to ‘flush out the stacked money’ and made them accountable through the banking system. In a way the policy of demonetising high denomination notes had caused certain hardship during transition period but it has helped to galvanise the speed of digital revolution in India.

Dr Mashelkar’s pole vault versus frog jumps Recently, Dr Mashelkar, a very distinguished and highly decorated Indian scientist of international repute, delivered two important lectures and these had struck the chord of spreading the digital technology across the country and its inclusivity. In the first lecture at the Pune International Centre, he elaborated the exponential growth of the digital technology and its interface with future jobs. Dr Mashelkar initially spoke about the ‘frog jumps’ that the digital technology took in its growth during early phases till 2001 or to be more specific 2006. The entire architecture of digital technology underwent a significant change after that and India which was far behind many of the developed countries in its usage to a huge ‘pole vault’ to leave behind many of the countries which had earned significant laurels in digital technology. The VoLTE was largely responsible for this pole vault. He elaborated the ten exponential technologies, their architecture and influence. These include the Internet, robotics and automation, virtual reality, 3-D printers and visualisation, big data analytics and block chain. These are expected to change the entire lifestyle and working systems in many sectors in India in coming years. Dr Mashelkar elaborated that transistors will double almost every two years (Moore’s law); hard disk price will go down by 50% every bit in every 18 months (Kryder’s law); pixels per unit of money will go down by 59% per year (Hendy’s law) and above all the transmitting cost of every bit will decrease by 50% every nine months (Butter’s law). All these are likely to change the entire digital scenario in every sector office usage but that will not necessarily bring down employment in any of the sectors (Brandes and Wattenhofer 2016). He elaborated the opening of 55 new job roles after the new digital technology takes over and these will require new skills, new vocations and training. In each of the technology elaborated he expects a

154  R. S. Deshpande huge job creation and that would not require heavy training or university degrees. He argued that it will be required to go for skilling and reskilling in collaboration with industry with larger investment in new methods of training and educational systems. These new collaboration and enhancement of technology will not only hasten the production process and increase the quantum of production per unit of time but also create large number of new typology of jobs. Further Dr Mashelkar elaborated on the possibilities opened by new digital technology in improving access to information; substituting information for travel and save on travel time/energy; sorting out a needle from the haystack and save large amount of time; choosing from a vast array of choices; monitoring real-time activities; facilitating various communications and multiple communications on a real-time basis; and perfecting accountability and access neutrality (Mashelkar 2017). All these possibilities create various kinds of jobs and therefore, even though it may impact style of a few jobs the digital technology is poised to create multiple job markets. Subsequently, in the K. R. Narayanan oration at Australian National University, Dr Mashelkar elaborated the process of dismantling inequality through digital technology. Elaborating on the process of dismantling inequality and warding off the fear of job loss on the advent of the digital technology, he brought forth the acronym ASSURED technology, through which he elaborated the structure of the technology to be adopted and the attributes technology should depict in its applications. He was emphasising that the technology should be Affordable, Scalable, Sustainable, Universal, Rapid, Excellent and Distinctive. One of India’s most important technological advances has been the connectivity through wireless telephones. Today, India has about 1,200 million total wireless subscribers of which more than 550 million are from rural areas and about 680 million come from urban areas. The broadband subscribers have gone to 300 million in the country. Dr Mashelkar talked about the ‘pole vault’ in the sense that India is competing with the world giants in advancing technologies and soon it has crossed the many giants in overcoming hurdles and creating India’s footprints on the technology front, leaving behind the frog leaps. He elaborated to a large extent that India would soon be among the world leaders in generating the technology and the manpower that is required for utilising these technologies. He emphatically stated that job creation will not be so much in the traditional sector is as it has been in the last two decades, but it will be in the new sectors and specifically in the supporting sector for the new technology. Today, the mobile revolution has reached nooks and corners of India and the related jobs to the mobile technology which usually are not recorded as job creation in the traditional sense. Therefore, one has to worry more about the investment coming towards the sectors so that employment generated would be in the new sectors and new forms. He spoke about the fourth generation of industrial revolution with smart industrial operations based on the digital operating systems that will give you not only accuracy

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 155 but excellent quality of products to capture the international markets. He relied this on the forthcoming 4G industry with Cyber Physical Systems and digitally controlled production processes. On the employment side, Dr Mashelkar indicated for important sectors, namely intellectual, physical, commercial and service sectors. On the background of the famous work of Frey and Osborne (2013) on the future of employment under the pressure of new technological revolutions, Dr Mashelkar clears most of the fears that the job creation would be slowed down. He pointed out that very clearly that the jobs will be created in the non-traditional newly emerging sectors and the wages would be substantially better than the wages in the unorganised sector hitherto. The employment scenario worked out by Dr Mashelkar puts total employment at 473 million in 2017, out of which 436 million jobs are only in the unorganised sector and 37 million in the organised sector. His projections for 2022 indicated puts total job creation at 600 million, out of which according to Dr Mashelkar, 540 million jobs will be created in the unorganised sector and 60 million jobs will be generated in the organised sector. He projected a strong growth in the unorganised sector job market but with a lot of difference than what it stands today. The unorganised sector will be supporting sector for the main 4G industrial sector and a large amount of drudgery will be taken over by digital automation technology. The projections suggest that 10% to 20% of jobs will be created in the areas which do not exist today, 60% to 65% jobs will be in the similar areas of earlier sector but will have a radically changed skill sets and 20% to 35% jobs will be transitional jobs in the unorganised sector. While elaborating the new jobs and vocations, Dr Mashelkar listed data scientists, computer vision engineers, embedded system programmers and workers, VFX artists, RPA developers, deployment engineers, application developers, support service manpower and many others. While discussing the policy framework he emphasised on the public-private partnership in order to establish training centres and capacity building centres for new skills and new jobs. This futuristic scenario is certainly difficult to imagine. However, when one looks back at India three decades ago and where India stands today, the feasibility of the far-reaching changes cannot be ruled out.

Is the digital revolution Broad-Based? Developing countries the world over design their development agenda based on the available resources and the problems confronted by them. Most of the developing countries suffer from acute poverty, food shortages, infrastructural bottlenecks and administrative inefficiencies. Most of these problems result in unemployment and underemployment, therefore, the issue of efficiency dominates the solutions. Anywhere in the world, introduction of any new technology meets with stiff resistance and especially the arguments are about the priority assigned to the new technology over the perpetuating problems of the nations (Steigler 2011). In India also we had similar

156  R. S. Deshpande problems and therefore, the fear and phobia about the introduction of new technology prevailed widely. Among the important arguments put forth is that the unemployment would increase and the existing jobs will be displaced by millions. Given the problems and economic conditions, levels of literacy and priorities of the population, the technology may not reach the nook and corner of the society and the country (Stoll 1995). But as such the technology is also not expected to solve every existing problem. The future of employment was also an issue that was at the centre stage of discussion and probably a part of it is true, and even though the new technology may create new types of jobs and the skill requirement for these jobs will be different. The possibility of having a dent on the immediate future of employment cannot be ruled out (Frey and Osborne 2013). The digital technology entered the Indian economy with a gusto and there are no two opinions that the digital technology and electronics has boosted Indian GDP growth at a very fast rate. It was feared that the priority area of employment will be neglected and the labour absorption in the labour market will be slow. The unemployment created thus will result in widespread social unrest and create virtual inequality (Mossberger et al. 2003). This was a risky preposition and the policy makers were not ready to take it easily. Apart from threat of emerging unemployment, inequality questions were also raised about the accessibility of the technology to masses. Given the enormity of the country and the level of education, doubts were raised if the digital technology can ever be Broad-Based. The hurdles posed by rural-urban divide, level of literacy, density of poverty and the average income levels of the population were considered as the major obstacles in the spread and absorption of the digital technology. With the experience of 17 years now after the digital technology was introduced in the country, it is now time to look back the question; if the digital technology really has been Broad-Based or concentrated in a few pockets of the society and the regions? A few important indicators could be picked up and the cross-section of correlates worked out. These include the population density both in rural and urban areas, percentage of poor, levels of literacy and economic stability – indicated by per capita income. Taking these indicators correlations were worked out based on the cross-section of the Indian states. The results are presented in Table 9.4a and 9.4b. We must however warn that the data used are up to 2011 only and a real pole vault took place after 2006. Banking facilities availed, which largely use digital technology in their operations, showed negative relationship with poverty ratio both in urban and rural areas, whereas, the per capita income of the state showed a strong positive relationship with the banking facilities availed by the population. It is clear that poverty is a deterrent for getting to the banking facility and the result is not unexpected. The situation possibly would improve after the introduction of Jan-Dhana Yojana that allowed opening of the bank account without any basic deposits. Radio and transistors seem to be totally

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 157 Table 9.4a  Correlation coefficients with different indicators Indicators

Sub-class Banking Radio/ Television Computer/laptop facilities Transistor With Without availed internet internet

Share of Population Rural Urban Population density Rural Urban Total Poverty ratio Rural Urban Total Per capita income 2012–13 Literacy rates 2011

−0.33 −0.24 0.33 0.24 0.11 0.04 0.15 0.16 0.22 0.17 −0.57** −0.18 −0.59** 0.19 −0.62** −0.08 0.58** 0.11 0.44* 0.36

−0.69 0.69 0.05 0.21 0.34 −0.75** −0.63** −0.77** 0.76** 0.65**

−0.87 0.87 0.46 0.60 0.76 −0.54** −0.46* −0.52** 0.86*** 0.48*

−0.68 0.68 0.13 0.13 0.30 −0.52* −0.41* −0.52* 0.76*** 0.66**

Note: Statistically significant correlations are indicated with *; **indicating the probability levels at 5% and 1% probability levels. The data table is given in Appendix I. Source: The coefficients of correlation are as calculated by the author of the chapter, based on the data in Appendix Table 9A.1

Table 9.4b  Correlation coefficients with different indicators Indicators

Share of population Population density  Poverty ratio Per capita income Literacy rates


Rural Urban Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Total 2012–13 2011

Telephone/mobile phone Landline only

Mobile only


−0.47* 0.47* 0.09 −0.02 0.10** −0.60*** −0.48* −0.59** 0.59** 0.36

−0.39 0.39 0.10 0.43 0.35 0.26 −0.41* 0.59** 0.45* 0.27

−0.61** 0.61** 0.22 0.09 0.30 −0.65** −0.55** −0.64** 0.66** 0.60**

Note: Statistically significant correlations are indicated with *; **indicating the probability levels at 5% and 1% probability levels. The data table is given in Appendix I. Source: The coefficients of correlation are as calculated by the author of the chapter, based on the data in Appendix Table 9A.1

Broad-Based and do not indicate any relationship with any of the indicators chosen. Computers laptop and television showed exactly similar relationship as that of banking facilities with strong negative correlations with poverty ratio, literacy and positive relationship with per capita income. Population density and share of population however showed no relation with the spread of the technology for banking radio transistor television or Internet. Mobile technology is the one which really reached nook and corner of

158  R. S. Deshpande the country. Interestingly spread of landline telephones also showed negative relationship with poverty ratio and a strong positive relation with per capita income. Interestingly Mobile alone has a positive relation with poverty ratio and poverty does not seem to be any obstacle in reaching mobile technology. Today mobile technology has a large number of applications which include banking, agricultural extension, Internet facilities, sending and receiving pictures and long-distance Skype facility. Literacy is another important indicator of spread of the technology and its Broad-Basing. Analysts have expressed doubts about the spread of technology in the regions and groups of people that have a low illiteracy levels. It has been noted that literacy may make a difference in access to banking facilities and some Internet information but not in access to mobile technology. Reserve Bank of India’s Committee on Mobile Banking under the chairmanship of Shri B. Sambamurthy (RBI 2014) noted the difficulties and recommended important steps and since then it has become more user friendly. The Committee also looked into the issue of Broad-Basing the digital revolution.

Broad-Basing the digital revolution Mobile applications are being developed to reach nook and corners of the country. The applications start with cultivation related online advisory by the agricultural departments of various state governments and the wider portal of ‘Kisan Suvidha’. The farmer can get these advisories including the weather advisory on the mobile and that has spread across the country, Broad-Basing the digital connect. Suvidha application for Health advisory and Suyojana or Meri Sadak to get at the infrastructure needs are also quite popular. Microlekha and mDemand are for sanitation needs of the public. In order to strengthen and increase transparency in the co-operative sector, Go-Coop was developed to connects the co-operators. SRIJAN is for Self-Reliant Initiatives through Joint Action and OpAsha for contacting and monitoring the medicine regime of the patients who are suffering tuberculosis. Swayam Shikshan Prayog’s self-educating portal and SNEHA, which is Society for Nutrition Education and Health Action, helps in understanding nutrition and health issues. Broad-Basing digital revolutions also confront a few challenges and these include the frequent changes in technology. The trust is still to be instilled about the efficiency of the banking system. In the recent past the breaches in the banking security systems are reported every alternate day. The fraudsters are also causing significant uncertainty on the dependability despite all precautions are taken by the banking industry. Other information based applications are picking up users very fast like those on cultivation practices, weather alerts, marketing info and fertiliser or pesticide applications. Consumer goods (cow dung cakes are now available on Flipcart) and their marketing through the most popular portals have made significant roadways in

Is the Indian digital revolution Broad-Based? 159 the rural hinterlands also. Unfortunately, the ethical standards are not as high as needed and hence fraudsters and cheating is common. Fake medicines and agro-inputs are dished out of the unscrupulous elements. Notwithstanding the digital revolution is poised to reach the length and breadth of the country in the coming decade and capture many facets of our rural living style.

Achievements and encounters Digital technology entered India during the decade of 1980s and the initial pace and progress was slow. This was on the background of the resistance faced by the technology during the late 1970s, fearing displacement of workers in the banking and insurance sectors. Computerisation was at the central point of the debate since at that time the other digital technologies had not entered in India and more so the technology pertaining to mobile was still to take shape in the world. The transformation from analog System Demonstration Platform (SDP) to digital technology changed the entire scenario. The speed with which computerisation and computer related applications proliferated during the 1990s and beyond was unimaginable. India soon became computer savvy and one of the leaders of software development in the world. Digital technology and its applications were spread all over the country and the data analytics became easier. The government sector took a little time to catch with the speed however, in a few years computerisation made its way in every nook and corner of the government administration. Spreading of the wave across the country was a little difficult because it involved investment and basic computer literacy. Two major hurdles that come up in spreading and Broad-Basing the new technology, are the income barrier indicated through the density of the poor across the regions in the country and the literacy barrier that prevents many people to participate and use the technology for their benefit. These two barriers have been with us right from independence onwards for every technological intervention and the struggle against these continues with many programmes. Our analyses of the correlates of indicators of probable barriers to the digital technology in a cross-section analysis of the states of India did indicate that poverty, income, literacy and to some extent rural background play as barrier, but the ground truth looks different. One of the main lacunae of our analysis is that the data we had was seven years old and in these seven years especially during 2015–18 digitisation has spread at a very high speed. Today, in India there are hardly any schools in which computer literacy is not taught, there are hardly any banks in which the banking transactions are not done digitally and there are hardly any sectors in which digitisation has not been done. One of the indicators of its spread could be judged from the report that Manipur State is now a 100% computer literate state in India. Given the size of the population and the length and breadth of the country as well as the intensity of the hurdles that India faces may require some more time

160  R. S. Deshpande to catch up with the developed world. Mobile technology has somehow, jumped these hurdles with ease and spread across the country and social groups without any hindrance. It is through the mobile technology that the Internet has also reached nook and corner of the country and advantage can be taken through this in order to spread the digital technology across sectors and regions. The advantage of the digital technology is certainly the ease of carrying out many activities at a fast speed and reducing the distances by getting approach through digitisation. It appears that digital technology has the potential for Broad-Basing, but there are significant barriers now which need to be overcome. Today India has proved as one of the leaders in the development of technology on the digital map of the world and sooner or later the technology would be sufficiently Broad-Based to reach the largest share of our population and almost every region of the country.


Table 9A.1  Households owning digitally compatible assets: 2011 Sl no. State

00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 27 28 29 30 32 33

INDIA Jammu & Kashmir Himachal Pradesh Punjab Chandigarh Uttarakhand Haryana NCT of Delhi # Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh Bihar Sikkim Arunachal Pradesh Nagaland Manipur Mizoram Tripura Meghalaya Assam West Bengal Jharkhand Odisha Chhattisgarh Madhya Pradesh Gujarat Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh Karnataka Goa Kerala Tamil Nadu

HH Radio TV availing banking



Internet No Land Mobile Both internet

58.7 70.0

19.9 47.2

47.2 51.0

3.1 2.9

6.4 5.5

4.0 53.2 3.6 59.3

6.0 6.6






7.4 61.5


65.2 80.1 80.7 68.1 77.7 68.0 72.0 44.4 67.5 53.0

16.5 28.1 14.6 17.4 33.4 16.2 24.7 25.8 23.0 22.0

82.6 5.4 82.5 18.8 62.0 3.2 67.9 5.3 88.0 17.6 37.6 1.8 33.2 1.9 14.5 0.9 54.7 3.3 41.1 2.0

7.4 14.4 7.8 8.0 11.5 5.1 6.2 6.2 8.2 6.2

6.7 6.0 3.2 4.5 5.1 2.5 3.3 2.3 1.8 2.9

62.3 63.1 64.8 66.9 68.3 62.5 61.2 51.6 67.7 39.8

13.2 20.1 6.6 8.0 17.4 5.6 2.4 1.7 3.6 5.6

34.9 29.6 54.9 79.2 37.5 44.1 48.8 54.0 45.0 48.8 46.6

25.0 54.4 33.5 12.8 25.2 22.1 18.3 17.5 11.4 11.0 14.5

37.9 47.4 55.1 44.9 33.7 27.5 35.3 26.8 26.7 31.3 32.1

1.7 2.2 2.5 1.0 1.5 1.6 2.2 1.5 1.4 1.2 1.4

7.2 6.9 12.7 6.3 6.1 7.8 6.1 5.4 3.7 3.4 4.5

1.3 3.0 1.7 2.1 1.5 2.2 2.3 2.0 1.8 1.5 2.4

48.6 52.3 63.9 42.7 39.1 43.5 42.9 44.1 35.6 27.2 40.6

3.2 2.2 7.2 3.3 2.4 2.3 4.0 1.9 2.4 2.0 3.0

57.9 68.9 53.1

19.4 19.5 9.3

53.8 56.8 58.8

3.1 5.8 2.6

5.7 7.5 5.8

3.3 58.6 6.3 53.7 4.1 54.9

7.1 9.1 4.1

61.1 86.8 74.2 52.5

22.3 31.1 29.7 22.7

60.0 4.8 81.1 12.7 76.8 6.3 87.0 4.2

8.0 18.4 9.5 6.4

7.0 12.1 11.6 5.7

56.5 53.8 46.8 62.1

Source: Census of India, 2011, Census Commissioner, Government of India, New Delhi

8.1 23.3 31.3 7.1

162  R. S. Deshpande Table 9A.2  Change in asset holding along with digitally compatible assets Sl no. State

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 27 28 29 30 32 33 34

Jammu & Kashmir Himachal Pradesh Punjab Chandigarh # Uttarakhand Haryana NCT of Delhi # Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh Bihar Sikkim Nagaland Manipur Mizoram Tripura Meghalaya Assam West Bengal Jharkhand Odisha Chhattisgarh Madhya Pradesh Gujarat Maharashtra Andhra Pradesh Karnataka Goa Kerala Tamil Nadu INDIA

Radio/ transistor



None of the assets specified

2011 47.2 25.7 16.5 28.1 14.6 17.4 33.4 16.2 24.7 25.8 23.0 25.0 54.4 33.5 12.8 25.2 22.1 18.3 17.5 11.4 11.0 14.5 19.4 19.5 9.3 22.3 31.1 29.7 22.7 19.9

2011 51.0 74.4 82.6 82.5 62.0 67.9 88.0 37.6 33.2 14.5 54.7 37.9 47.4 55.1 44.9 33.7 27.5 35.3 26.8 26.7 31.3 32.1 53.8 56.8 58.8 60.0 81.1 76.8 87.0 47.2

2011 69.5 82.3 82.1 89.2 74.6 79.3 90.8 70.6 66.9 55.5 73.0 53.1 57.5 72.7 48.1 43.0 47.9 49.2 48.0 39.8 30.7 46.0 69.0 69.1 63.1 71.6 89.1 89.7 74.9 63.2

2011 18.1 9.4 7.9 4.9 17.1 12.7 3.5 25.4 25.6 37.5 18.9 34.5 21.6 19.6 36.9 40.4 40.8 41.7 43.2 51.7 55.5 44.7 23.4 23.4 23.9 18.5 5.7 5.3 6.3 27.4

2001 65.1 48.0 39.4 53.3 49.7 39.4 50.0 34.3 39.6 27.8 36.3 32.5 43.0 42.0 28.5 32.0 30.2 38.6 26.4 23.7 23.4 20.9 30.2 35.9 21.6 46.2 57.8 59.2 43.5 35.1

2001 40.7 53.3 67.7 73.9 42.9 53.0 74.5 28.1 25.0 9.1 30.9 18.1 24.2 20.4 23.7 20.9 18.3 26.6 17.2 15.5 21.5 29.6 38.7 44.1 31.5 37.0 63.5 38.8 39.5 31.6

2001 6.8 16.5 18.9 32.1 9.9 12.7 34.7 8.0 5.6 2.2 13.2 5.2 5.3 14.1 5.2 6.0 4.3 6.7 3.3 3.9 3.8 6.2 12.5 14.1 8.6 12.8 29.1 19.1 11.2 9.1

2001 26.8 30.1 23.8 18 32.8 34.1 18.2 53.1 50.1 68.9 49.4 60.1 50.3 52 60.3 59.2 61.3 49.2 65 69.1 64.1 60.3 48.9 44.7 57.8 41.2 23.7 29.7 42.3 50.4

Source: Census of India, 2001 and 2011, Census Commissioner, Government of India, New

Note 1 FDMA – Frequency Division Multiple Access; TDMA – Time Division Multiple Access and CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access.

10 Urbanisation in India Is it Broad-Basing? Kala S. Sridhar

Introduction At the time of independence, India inherited a largely poor and agricultural economy, hence rural development was a priority. Unsurprisingly, India was only 17% urban as per Census 1951, improving to only 31% in 2011, a 14 percentage point increase over six decades, – not unprecedented by any standards. In fact, India’s urbanisation is the lowest among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of countries, compared with Brazil’s urbanisation at 85%, the Russian Federation’s at 74%, China’s at 54% (excluding Hong Kong and Macao) and South Africa’s at 64% (as per World Urbanization Prospects 2014). Even if we compare urbanisation levels with the other countries in the SAARC region, India’s urbanisation is low, with the Maldives at 45% – the most urbanised, both Pakistan and Bhutan at 38%, and Bangladesh at 34% urban. Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal are the only countries in the SAARC region that have lower levels of urbanisation than that of India. India’s urbanisation has not thus been rapid or high, hence both its disadvantages and merits are limited to this extent. The current definition for urbanisation is provided in endnote 1, but only since 1961 did this uniform definition of urbanisation come to be adopted across all Indian states and union territories.1 Prior to 1961, every state had its own definition of what is urban. Since 1961, the definition in terms of a minimum of 5000 population has remained unchanged, with the small changes described in endnote 1. During 1991–2011, the definition has remained the same. Table 10.1 summarises the average growth rate of urban population in India during 1901–2011, showing that the growth rate of urban population in the country is steadily increasing, although there is a peak during 1991–2001, again not unprecedented by any standards. In this chapter, we attempt to answer the question of whether urbanisation has been BroadBasing to include all social groups such as the women and the other vulnerable populations. Sridhar (2016) provides various reasons why urbanisation was not given importance in the planning process historically. Mills et al. (1986) and

164  Kala S. Sridhar Table 10.1 Growth rate of urban population, 1901–2011 Time period

Decadal growth rate of urban population (per cent)

Proportion urban* at the end of the decade (per cent)

1901–11 1911–21 1921–31 1931–41 1941–51 1951–61 1961–71 1971–81 1981–91 1991–2001 2001–2011

1.96 4.61 8.98 12.89 21.17 19.48 29.04 41.45 35.30 44.53 21.38

10.29 11.18 11.99 13.86 17.29 17.97 19.91 23.34 25.71 27.81 31.16

Note: *The proportion is as per the definition of ‘urban’ for respective census years. Unfortunately, there are no comparable estimates of urbanisation across census years, except during 1991–2011. Source: Census of India 2011 town directory and author’s computations and analysis

Annez and Buckley (2009) pointed out how, in India, several policies and programs were historically in place to ‘control’ urbanisation and city size. The attempt was to spread urbanisation wider, and discourage concentration. One example is the Growth Centres program which gave impetus to industrialisation in backward regions, as long as they were located at a minimum distance from large urban centres (Sridhar 2003, 2006). But Sridhar (2010a) found the positive effect of agglomeration (proximity to a large urban centre) on the economic output of towns. There is no single document that describes the government’s policies on city size. The earliest national government programs to influence the location of industry made use of industrial licenses. In 1977, it was decided that industrial licenses would be denied in large metropolitan areas and urban agglomerations. Direct investment in government-owned enterprises was another means through which the Government of India restricted the growth of large cities. Preference for the location of government-owned industry was given to low-income areas, rural areas or small cities and towns. Mills et al. (1986) have pointed to government encouragement of small-scale industry to locate in small towns and rural areas. The locational program or policy was a tool used to control city size, under which a large number of specific instruments such as concessionary finance, input allocations, technical and marketing assistance, training programs, and the development of industrial estates were provided to small industries. A locational program was also provided by state governments to develop ‘backward’ districts with tools such as subsidies for capital investment, transport subsidy, income tax concessions, and concessional loans. Thus, programs and policies of the Government of India have tried to limit the size and growth of large cities and urbanisation by dispersing the

Urbanisation in India 165 location of industry from large cities to smaller towns and rural areas or to poorer states and districts. Nonetheless, urban renewal programs such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission of India’s United Progressive Alliance government, initiated in 2005, and the 100 Smart Cities program of India’s National Democratic Alliance government initiated in 2014 are worth mentioning. While the JNNURM specified certain mandatory and optional reform agenda items of states and cities, to be able to tap the funds, the objectives of the Smart Cities Scheme were declared in the concept note released by the Ministry of Urban Development in December 2014, as follows: The key features of a Smart City is in the intersect between competitiveness, capital and sustainability. The smart cities should be able to provide good infrastructure such as water, sanitation, reliable utility services, health care; attract investments; transparent processes that make it easy to run commercial activities; simple and on line processes for obtaining approvals, and various citizen centric services to make citizens feel safe and happy. (Ministry of Urban Development 2014).2 A series of papers have been written on the positive synergies created by urbanisation. Annez and Buckley (2009) point out, few countries have reached a per capita income of $10,000 without reaching 60% urbanisation. Sridhar (2016) studies the relationship between per capita income and urbanisation in India over the period 1951–2011, and finds a steeply positive relationship between the two. Urbanisation leads to higher economic growth, per capita income and vice versa, because of the scale and agglomeration economies, sharing, matching and learning, which the density in cities generates. While scale economies explain the existence of small towns and cities, agglomeration economies explain the existence of large cities. Chen et al. (2016) present research findings on how urbanisation enhances productivity and economic growth in both urban and rural sectors, taking the case of China. As they point out, urbanisation improves agricultural productivity through capital accumulation. Over time, the degree of capital deepening grows in the agricultural sector, mainly because urbanisation results in increasing rural migrant workers in non-agricultural industries. Further, rural incomes and consumption levels are boosted by urbanisation, given another vital source of capital investment is remittance. Sridhar (2016) reported that rural migrants in urban areas sent back remittances to the rural economy. An NSSO report (cited in Tumbe 2011) estimated that around 58% of the domestic migrants send money home with an average remittance size of Rs. 13,000 a year.3 As Sridhar (2016) documented, this survey found that, during one year, male out-migrants from urban areas and residing within India remitted on average nearly Rs. 28,000.4 Tumbe (2011) estimated the domestic remittance market in India to be $10 billion

166  Kala S. Sridhar in 2007–08, –60% being interstate transfers and 80% being directed toward rural households. Because of these reasons, there is strong evidence to believe that urbanisation not only improves human development in cities, but also that in rural areas, such that the gap between the two declines over time. The primary objective of this paper is to examine if urbanisation is BroadBasing and has brought inclusivity to the growth process in India. Nadkarni (1997) defines Broad-Basing as a process through which an increasing number of social groups enter the mainstream of social, political and economic activities and progressively derive the same advantages from the society as the other groups already in the mainstream. Following this, in this study, I focus on women, Dalits (or Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs)) and the urban poor or those in slums as the focus social groups, subject to the availability of data. Disaggregated data on social groups such as SCs/STs and economic classes such as Muslims and lower income groups are not available. We focus on several aspects of human development to examine inclusion. These indicators span factors reflecting human capital such as sex ratio, literacy rate, infant mortality, slum population, and access to basic services such as water supply, sanitation, housing, urban transport and roads, in urban compared with rural areas. The hypothesis is that urban areas are better with respect to these aspects of human development, implying that the urbanisation process has been inclusive. Where the data exist, I examine if the social groups referred to above, have benefitted. Inter-state analysis of the above indicators is attempted, subject to the availability of data. This chapter uses secondary data from the census and other sources. This chapter is organised as follows. First the indicators reflecting on human development are reviewed, followed by those on physical infrastructure, urban poverty, access to basic amenities concerning water supply, sanitation, electricity and housing, urban labour markets covering the labour force participation rate, earnings and skills, and urban transport. Then the chapter summarises and concludes.

Broad-Basing nature of Indian urbanisation As per the Census of India, out of the country’s total population of 1,210.19 million in 2011, 377.11 million or 31.16% lived in urban areas. In 2001, the share of the urban population was 27.82% (286.12 million out of 1,028.61 million). Correspondingly, there was an increase in the number of urban households from 53.7 million in 2001 to 78.9 million in 2011. Urbanisation and urban areas are important to achieve increases in manufacturing, services productivity and value added, to sustain the country’s macroeconomic growth targets. We review here several indicators of the Broad-Basing nature of the urbanisation process in India with reference to certain social groups such as SC/ST, women, rural and slum population, subject to the availability of data. The indicators cover human capital reflecting

Urbanisation in India 167 on the urban and female literacy rate, sex ratio, and infant mortality rate across and rural areas where the data exist, physical infrastructure including roads, public transport and housing, the access to basic amenities and the proliferation of squatter settlements. As Paul and Sridhar (2015) point out, literacy rate is expected to positively affect economic growth, per capita income and the Broad-Basing process. A higher literacy rate is suggestive of people better informed, which acts as a base for higher skills, ability to deal with technology, and enhanced efficiency at work.5 These capabilities enable them to generate more output and income. Urban residents are better informed, more skilled, and assumed to be relatively more adept at technology to increase their efficiency at work. Hence we expect urbanisation to facilitate a more inclusive growth. Only effective literacy rates are studied here which refer to population above 5 years of age for census years from 1951 to 1971, and to population above 7 years of age for the later census years. Hence, they are comparable since 1981 and thereafter. Literacy rate in urban India showed a steady increase from 73.08% in 1991 to 79.92% in 2001 and 84.1% in 2011, in contrast to the all India literacy rate which increased from 65% in 2001 to only 74% in 2011, as per the census. Mizoram had the highest urban literacy of 97.6% followed by Kerala at 95.1% in 2011, whereas Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had the lowest urban literacy at 77.1% and 76.9%, respectively, which enables us to say that the Broad-Basing nature of the urbanisation process in the low urban literacy states must be weaker than that in the high literacy states. Further, as far as female literacy rate is concerned, out of the increase of 218 million literates that were added during 2001–11, women (110 million) outnumbered men (108 million), with the decadal increase in the literacy rate of men being 32 percentage points, when compared with 49 percentage points for women. The gender gap in literacy rate has been declining over time, but exists still. In 2011, while male literacy was 82.14%, female literacy was only 65.42%. Urbanisation certainly expedites the process of reducing this gap. Slowing down in urbanisation may have also slowed down the reduction in the gap. The urban female (effective) literacy rate for SCs was 69% in 2011, when compared with the rural female literacy rate for SCs which was only 53% for that year. Similarly, for STs the urban female (effective) literacy rate for 2011 was 70% whereas the corresponding one for the rural female SCs was only 47% for that year. Overall, the combined (for both men and women) effective literacy rate for SCs for urban areas was 76% (77% for STs) in 2011, whereas for rural SCs it was only 63% (57% for STs). It is interesting from the viewpoint of the Broad-Basing impact of urbanisation that the female literacy rate is higher in more urbanised states such as Kerala (88%), Gujarat (58%), Maharashtra (67%), when compared with less urbanised states such as Uttar Pradesh (42.2% effective female literacy rate), and Bihar (33.1%).

168  Kala S. Sridhar Literacy rate depends on the preference for and type of schooling. Sridhar et al. (2018) found, taking the case of Bengaluru, that urban residents increasingly prefer private schools over government schools. Singh and Sridhar (2002) reported, however, taking the cases of two (rural) districts in Uttar Pradesh, that government schools were more responsive to gender equity than private schools. Even with respect to attendance, they found that it was better in government schools than in private schools. However, they reported that the dropout rate in private schools was lower. It may therefore, be said that lower dropout rates must have contributed to higher literacy rates in urban areas. Urban areas also provide a competitive environment for government and private schools to compete such that only private schools are able to retain their ‘market share’ of students. Table 10.2 presents the rural urban literacy rates for various years, and shows that while urban literacy rates are always higher than the rural ones, the gap has been declining over time. By the same token, it is plausible to expect that urbanisation makes sex ratios more favourable to women, since with higher literacy rate, and education, female foeticide decreases, and women are increasingly accepted in the urban society and economy as being equal to men, though significant gender disparities in pay remain. The sex ratio of India’s urban population improved in favour of women, increasing from only 860 females per 1,000 male population in 1951, to 879 in 1981, and 929 in 2011, implying that there were more women in 2011 per 1,000 men than was the case in 1951. Nonetheless we note that the rural sex ratio was much more favourable to women during the period than in urban areas, but it actually declined from 965 per 1,000 males in 1951, to 949 women per 1,000 men in 2011. It is possible that many more men than women migrated out of rural areas to rural areas during the period 1951–2011 in search of education, employment opportunities, which could explain the more favourable sex ratio in rural areas. Table 10.3 presents the sex ratios for rural and urban India, and the rural-urban gap during 1951–2011, which shows that rural-urban differentials with respect to the sex ratio have steadily declined, and the urban areas actually have caught up with the rural areas. Interestingly, the sex ratio in slums became more favourable to women, increasing from only 887 in 2001 to 928 in 2011, as per Census 2011. The Broad-Basing of the Table 10.2 Literacy rates (%) – urban rural gap Year





1981 1991 2001 2011

43.57 52.21 64.84 74.04

67.20 73.10 79.92 85.00

36.0 44.69 58.74 69.00

31.20 28.41 21.18 16.00

Source: Census of India and author’s computations

Urbanisation in India 169 Table 10.3 Rural-urban differentials in sex ratio, 1951–2011 Year

Rural sex ratio

Urban sex ratio

Rural-urban gap

1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011

965 963 949 951 938 946 949

860 845 858 879 893 900 929

105 118 91 72 45 46 20

Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Govt. of India, and www.india, and author’s analysis

urbanisation process leading to higher female and literacy rates is especially noteworthy. Next we review infant mortality rate.6 As Paul and Sridhar (2015) point out, infant mortality rate (IMR) indicates the level of health care services. Even here, the rural-urban gap with respect to IMR declined steadily over time in India from 56 in 1971 (with an IMR of 138 for rural and 82 for urban areas in 1971) to only 29 in 2002 (with an IMR of 69 for rural and 40 for urban areas in 2002). While rural infants continue to experience higher mortality than their urban counterparts, the IMR for rural areas fell further to 46 for rural areas in 2012, and 28 in urban areas, with a gap of 18 (–2012/). Given this evidence, urbanisation must have led to Broad-Basing processes in terms of many measures, for the socially vulnerable groups such as SC, ST, and women. We reviewed the proportion of SC/ST in the population of the towns, during 1981–2011, and found that it increased from a mere 7% of urban population on average in 1981, steadily increasing to 17.9% (on average) in 1991, 18% (on average) in 2001, and 20% (on average) in 2011.7 Hence this social group is gradually increasing in importance in urban India. We examined physical infrastructure such as road length8 since that is an indicator of accessibility to jobs for everyone, and plays an important role in alleviating poverty. For urban India, the average road length was only 46 km in 1981 (maximum of 6,236 km for Calcutta), which increased to 48 km on average in 1991 (with a maximum of 5,178 km in Patna), average of 58 km in 2001 (with a maximum of 5,052 km in Lucknow), to a high of 62 km on average in 2011 (with a maximum of 29,939 km in the NCT of Delhi). While the average road length for all towns was 62 km, this was only 1.3 km on average for slums, as per Census 2011, showing the severe disparities across the towns and slums. Hence the physical infrastructure is not equitably distributed, and this hampers the slum residents’ access to

170  Kala S. Sridhar jobs, undermining the ability of urbanisation to Broad-Base the benefits to poorer residents.

Urban poverty, slums and access to basic amenities There are a number of studies which argue that urban poverty is inherently different in nature from rural poverty (Sridhar 2015), and is more challenging because of food insecurity. The rural poor can grow their own food or at least have easier access to food than the urban poor. Social exclusion from their kin (the rural poor are more socially integrated), housing unaffordability (urban land is very scarce, aggravated further by urban land use regulations (Sridhar 2010b; Brueckner and Sridhar 2012), and threat of eviction given that in urban areas, land is at a premium, when compared with that in rural areas, and the urban poor are likely to illegally encroach on land) – all such factors make urban poverty more difficult to bear. Given this context, India’s urban poverty continually declined from 26% in 2004–05 (with a high of 44% in Bihar) to 21% in 2009–10 (with a high of 46% in Manipur), to a further low of 14% in 2011–12 (with a high of 33% again in Manipur, and 31% in Bihar), as per the Handbook of Urban Statistics, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India. Further, the slum population of the country steadily declined from 55% (47% for the world) in 1990 to 42% (40% for the world) in 2000, and to only 29% (33% for the world) in 2009 (see Table 10.4). Not only did India’s slum population become lower than that for the world at large in 2009 for the first time, but also within India, there was a reduction in the proportion of slum population from 1990 to 2000 then to 2009 (Table 10.4). The latter finding does not imply that India’s slum population has certainly

Table 10.4 Slum population and access to basic amenities for urban population Country/region

India Africa Asia & Pacific Europe Latin America and Caribbean North America Pacific World

Slum population (%)

Urban population Urban population with improved water with improved sources (%) sanitation (%)

1990 54.9 56.5 49.4 NA 35.4

2000 41.5 53.8 39.9 NA 30.2

2009 1990 29.4 89.0 50 85.4 30.4 94.3 NA 99.7 NA 94.4

2000 2010 1990 92.0 96.0 50.0 85.7 86.4 55.4 95.5 96.9 65.3 99.8 99.8 98.6 95.8 96.8 79.9

2000 2010 54.0 59.0 54.6 53.5 69.3 75.1 98.7 98.7 83.5 86.5

NA NA 46.8

NA NA 100 NA NA 99.3 39.6 33.1 95.0

100 100 100 99.4 100.0 97.8 95.5 96.1 75.7

100 100 97.8 97.8 77.0 79.4

Source: Handbook of Urban Statistics, 2016

Urbanisation in India 171 declined, since there could be non-notified slums which are not accounted for in the slum population. Further, there are significant regional disparities in terms of the incidence of slums. For instance, in terms of the state share to the total slum population of the country, Maharashtra contributes the highest (18%), followed by Andhra Pradesh at 16%, as per Census 2011. However, several states including Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and the north eastern states, Goa and Andaman & Nicobar Islands reported their slum share to be less than 1%. Manipur, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep reported no slums in 2011. While in general, higher levels of urbanisation are associated with higher incidence of slums, this is not the case across the states. For instance, Kerala, is a highly urbanised state with a low incidence of slums, and Maharashtra which is urbanised, but has a high incidence of slums. Hence urbanisation need not by itself lead to the greater proliferation of slums. Taking the case of all Indian cities, while the proportion of urban population with access to basic amenities such as water supply and sanitation has steadily improved in the country, they are still far from satisfactory. As of 2010, 4% of the country’s urban population did not have access to improved water sources, and the situation is worse with respect to sanitation. Nearly 41% of the country’s urban population does not have improved sanitation. The situation is worse than in other regions of the world, except only in Africa (Table 10.4). Overall, 26% of urban households had no latrine facility available within the house in 2001, which decreased to 18.60% in 2011 (with a high of 40% urban households with no latrine in Chhattisgarh), as per the Census of India. The urban areas saw a 29% reduction in households without a latrine, during 2001–11. However, more than two-thirds (69%) of rural households did not have a latrine, even as of 2011, even though this marked a 11% improvement over their condition in 2001 (when 78% did not have latrine access). When we examine the 2011 slums’ access to basic services such as sanitation, taking into account all slums in the country, as per the census, we find that there are on average, nearly 23 persons per latrine, with a maximum of 17,483 persons per latrine in the Adarshnagar slum of Amritsar. There are not even any community latrines in this slum. Kolkata has the maximum number of community latrines in one of its slums (98,868 community latrines). NSSO data indicate that 8.8% of all households were without a latrine. Our analysis from Census 2011 data on slums shows that only 5% of the slums (2,054 of the 38,609 slums) were without a latrine. On average, the number of households in the slums, as per census data, was 336, but the average number of all latrines in the slums was only 170, indicating an average coverage of households with latrines, to the extent of only 50%. Even in the slums of Delhi, where there were 186,459 latrines, the coverage of households was only 49%. Hence there is a lot of disparity between the access to such a basic service across the slums and other areas.

172  Kala S. Sridhar With regard to another basic service (electricity), estimates of National Sample Survey (NSS) 69th Round in 2012 (summarised in the Handbook of Urban Statistics) indicated that 97.9% households in urban India had access to electricity, an improvement of over 6 percentage points over 91.6% estimated in 2002 during NSS 58th round. With respect to the slums, based on census data, in 2011, on average, there were about 336 households per slum, and an average of only 248 connections, indicating a coverage of only 74%. Only in the slums of Delhi, that there was a coverage of 97.9%. Hence this implies substantial regional inequities in the distribution of this basic service across slums and non-slums, similar to that with sanitation. Slums indicate a lack of adequate affordable housing, as far as urban housing is concerned. Census 2011 shows that urban households not having any separate space or those that dwelled in non-exclusive rooms was 2.32% in 2001 which actually increased to 3.08% in 2011. The majority of urban households dwell in one room houses, which was 35.11% of households in 2001, decreasing to 32.13% in 2011, as per the census. The proportion of households reported as living in ‘good condition dwellings’ increased from 64.16% in 2001 to 68.44% in 2011. Another trend visible from the census is a decrease in the households living in dilapidated houses from 3.6% in 2001 to 2.88% in 2011. While the reduction in the households living in single bedroom dwellings and those living in ‘dilapidated’ dwellings and the increase in ‘good condition dwellings’ during 2001–11 is good news for the Broad-Basing processes, triggered by urbanisation, there are reports (Mann 2017) that at the beginning of the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007–2012), there was an urban housing shortage in India of 24.7 million, with 99% of this shortfall applying to the economically weaker sections and lower income groups in which migrants typically are included. Summarising then, we find that the basic amenities certainly improved over time in urban areas, when compared with all India average, but there are significant disparities not only across states and regions, but also across urban areas and slums. However, the economically weaker groups may not have benefitted from urban housing improvements that took place during 2001–11. Nonetheless, as Glaeser (2012) asserts in his Triumph of the City, poor migrants’ lives are not made worse by the city, but the city attracts poor migrants with the hope that it will improve their lives one day.

Urban labour markets Urban labour markets are indeed the cornerstone for their economic contribution to the country’s GDP. It is not only the employment rate or labour force participation that should concern us, but also the quality of jobs. It is redeeming to note that the proportion of casual labourers in urban India declined from 18% in 1999–2000 to 15% in 2011–12, hence the skills and working conditions of those employed improved. By the same token, the

Urbanisation in India 173 proportion of the regular salaried increased from 40% to 43% (33% to 43% for urban women) during 1999–2000 to 2011–12. Sridhar (2016) reported that urbanisation is positively related to economic development, measured by average wage and urbanisation at the state level. The average wage/salary earnings of the urban worker increased from Rs. 165 per day in 1999–2000 to Rs. 264 per day in 2007–08, representing a 60% increase, as per the NSS and Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation respectively. Over the same period, the average wage/salary of the rural worker increased from Rs. 125 in 1999–2000 to Rs. 163 per day in 2007–08, registering only a 30% increase. These salaries are in current prices, hence may hide the real income due to price fluctuations. Over the same period, the consumer price index (CPI) for urban non-manual workers increased from 337 to 515 (with base 1984–85 = 100), as per the CSO, registering a 53% increase. Over this period, the CPI for rural labourers increased from 305 in 1999 (with 1986–87 = 100) to 440 in 2008, showing a 44% increase, much higher than that of their earnings. The earnings of the rural women actually decreased from only Rs. 114 in 1999–2000 to Rs.108 in 2007–08. On the other hand, the daily earnings of the rural men increased from Rs. 127 in 1999–2000 to Rs. 175 in 2007–08, recording a 38% increase. Given the urban CPI index, the average wage/salary earnings was lower for urban women, for whom the salary increased from Rs. 140 in 1999– 2000 to Rs. 213 per day in 2007–08 (52% increase, which was less than the increase in the CPI), compared to urban men for whom the increase was from Rs. 170 to Rs. 276 (62% increase, greater than the increase in the CPI) over the period, showing greater improvement for urban men than their women counterparts. Overall, the all India urban unemployment rate (measured in usual status) declined from 5.2% in 1999–2000 to only 3.8% in 2011–12. While the unemployment rate declined for both urban men and women, all-India urban unemployment continued to be higher among women (at 6.6%) than that for men (3.2%) for 2011–12, as per estimates of National Sample Survey 68th round. Internal migration from villages to cities constitutes social mobility. From the view point of urban policies, Bhagat (2017) argues that the important issue is to reduce the impact of push factors and augment the impact of pull factors in internal migration. A study by Sridhar et al. (2013) which studied rural-urban migration to Bengaluru found that women were more likely to be ‘pulled’ toward urban areas, whereas migrants from within Karnataka were likely to be ‘pushed’. Hence the women who have been defined as part of Broad-Basing process in this chapter, certainly benefitted based on the criteria provided by Bhagat (2017). So taking into account the labour market conditions – unemployment rate, salaries and skills, and internal migration, the urbanisation process has included the hitherto excluded social groups such as women, however,

174  Kala S. Sridhar with significant gender and rural-urban disparities remaining in salaries and unemployment rates. Further, lower income groups have not benefited even as urban housing improvements have taken place during 2001–11.

Urban transport Urban transport is definitely a measure of inclusivity as may be seen in the fact that the higher the share of non-motorised and public transport in a city, the more inclusive it is, as it is usually the socially vulnerable groups that use these commuting modes. The Census of India 2011 data on transport shows that with respect to public transport modes such as the tempo, auto rickshaw, and the taxi, Hyderabad is the first followed by Kolkata, Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. As per Census 2011, overall, 28% all India commuters used non-motorised forms of transport (walk (24%) or bicycle (4%)), with another 19% using two-wheelers. Non-motorised forms of transport were the most prevalent in Kolkata. On average, only 26% of all India commuters in cities used public transport, as per the Census 2011. An urban transport system mainly based on private transport cannot be termed as Broad-Based and oriented to the masses. Historically, the number of motor vehicles in the country increased from only 306,000 in 1951 to 115 million in 2009, as per the National Transport Development Policy Committee, 2013. Of the 115 million vehicles in 2011, 72% were accounted for by two-wheelers, showing the inclusive nature of the process, given two wheelers are likely used by the women or lower income households.

Urban spread Finally, we ask if the process of urbanisation in India is Broad-Basing in the sense of being spatially spread over a large number of towns and cities, or is it narrow-based concentrated in large cities only? Are small towns in the interior also developing? The same policies that were responsible for the slow growth of urbanisation in this country are also the ones which spread the growth of urbanisation to smaller and medium towns (Sridhar 2003, 2006; Sridhar et al. 2014). Mathur (forthcoming) found that India’s urban system displays neither primacy nor conforms to the rank-size distribution. This study finds that the largest cities in the country are not large enough to fit into the rank size distribution and the populations of lower end are smaller than the predicted values, raising questions about their capacity to be able to generate scale and agglomeration economies. I reproduce a table (Table 10.5) on the primacy index from Mathur (forthcoming), which shows that the urban primacy is low in all Indian states in 2011, with the exception of Karnataka (where the biggest city Bengaluru is eight times that of the second biggest city, Mysuru) and Tamil Nadu (where Chennai is nearly four times that of the second biggest city, Coimbatore). While on average there is a small increase in the degree of primacy during 1991–2011

Urbanisation in India 175 Table 10.5 Primacy index* State

Andhra Pradesh Bihar Gujarat Haryana Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra Orissa Punjab Rajasthan Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh West Bengal

Primacy index 1991


3.94 1.53 1.92 1.13 4.10 1.08 1.03 6.11 1.02 1.47 2.19 4.08 1.16 4.63

3.89 3.56 1.24 1.61 8.90 1.2 1.09 3.98 1.38 1.43 2.94 4.42 1.01 4.17

Note: *Defined as the ratio of the population in the largest city to that of the next largest in the state. Source: Mathur (forthcoming)

(from 2.5 to 2.9), many states such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal saw a decline in their primacy index, which implies that the city size distribution is becoming more equal in several states. Table 10.6 further summarises the size distribution of India’s cities. The growth between 1951 and 2011 in the number of the different Classes of cities was as follows: Class I –564.5%, Class II – 445.0%, Class III – 409.4%, Class IV – 230.8%, Class V –- 83%. It clearly shows that the larger cities have grown more in number after India’s independence. They also account for much larger portion of the population. The proportion of Class I cities, however, is small, being only 2.5% in 1951 and 6.4% in 2011. These cities accounted for 70% of the total urban population in 2011. Cities with million plus population, which were only 53 in number (0.67% of all urban areas) in 2011, accounted for 42.6% of total urban population. Hence there is inequality in the spatial distribution of urban population. Urbanisation is certainly spread far and wide, but larger cities are growing faster both in number and population.

Has the smart cities programme made India’s urbanisation more Broad-Casing? While the idea of smart cities implies the use of technology to solve urban problems and the provision of basic services, the ‘smart’ idea could distract

176  Kala S. Sridhar Table 10.6 Size distribution of India’s cities, 1901–2011 Year

Class I

Class II

Class III

Class IV

Class V

All Citiesa

1951 1961 1971 1981b 1991c 2001 2011

76 107 151 226 322 448 505

111 139 219 325 421 498 605a

374 518 652 883 1,161 1,389 1,905

675 820 988 1,247 1,451 1,564 2,233

1,195 848 820 920 973 1,043 2,187

3,060 2,700 3,126 3,949 4,615 5,177 7,933

Note: a  All cities include cities in class sizes I–VI; columns 2–5 report only class sizes I–V. The Census of India’s definition for various class sizes of cities is as follows in terms of population: Class I: >100,000; Class II: 50,000–99,999; Class III: 20,000–49,999; Class IV: 10,000–19,999; Class V: 5,000–9,999; Class VI: