Wealth and Income Gap Based on Caste and Economic Mobility– Who Owns the Lion Share of Indian Economy

The structure to which the units of socialization belongs to, in the century and those before has always been Economics. Economics determines the power of the nation and the possibility of its survival in the great run of time along with polarization of power and society. India, the third largest country in the world and seventh largest in nominal GDP, however has slums in every nook and corner. Despite the technological and scientific advancements, the growing economic and military capacities and the prosperity of Indian markets in the global arena, we still have manual scavengers, dreading their life to make the two ends meet, just to survive. Now the question arises – Where did caste come from?

According to the Socio-Historical Theory of Caste, the system arrived in India with the Aryans. In Maharashtra, the land belonged to the dark-skinned Mahars, the original inhabitants who were portrayed by the Aryans through ‘Jati’, as outcastes, when they created the hierarchy which still continues to exist. Concepts such as hereditary occupation, purity of caste and doctrine of Karma became crucial in the later period of social reformation. Hundreds of hereditary occupations emerged out of it. Sub castes and ghettos also found its way through. Hence , social inequality became an institutionalized violence. Birth into one caste, made the new born the victim of the system. The pure and the polluted co-existed and ownership of properties always remained with the ‘upper caste’.

The decline of the ‘Jajmani’ system in Northern India during 2007, where the Scheduled Castes began to seek other employment opportunities collectively can be seen as a shift from the monotonous voice on the opinion that hereditary occupation persists. However, the research conducted by Ira Gang on Occupational Diversification among Dalits in rural India suggests that poverty rates among the ‘other caste ’ is significantly higher than that among the ‘forward caste’. The researcher identifies occupational structure as the basic element of this poverty. Globalizing Indian economy and convergence of the caste groups will take away caste issues from Indian society . However, the same has to be analysed through a sceptical spectacle, because the practicality of caste convergence is completely impossible in India today with the propoganda of imposing ‘Hindutva’ taking full advantage of the power and system. Dr. Ambedkar and his ideologies of abolishing caste were completely rejected by the Indian National Congress, especially Gandhi . Even after decades, the outcastes or the ‘harijans’ of Gandhi have not found their salvation, neither social mobility.

A webpage, LiveMint offers an entry named “What we can learn from the Baniya”  in which the super-economic growth of the Baniya Community is illustrated. The Birlas of course, belong to the community, so do other Marwaris. They rule the Indian economy today. According to the list by Forbes, The Birla, The Bajaj, The OP Jindal group, The JSW, The Essel, The Jubilant Bharatiya, The Future Group, and the top companies in India with highest net sales belongs to the jati to which Gandhi belonged. They own everything! Literally from pharma to petroleum, they own the Indian economy.

An article in The Economic Times offers the statistics of the ownership of power, capital and the lion share of Indian economy based on their World Inequality Database Study. The study comes up with the result that a rise of 23% in wealth share was received by the richest class in India during 2012. The survey also points at the economic rankings on the basis of caste hierarchy. The economy of India is controlled by the richest class which include 50% Brahmins, 31% Rajputs, 44% Bania  and 57% Kayasth while only 5% ST, 10% SC, 16 % OBC and 17%  Muslims are included, revealing the unequal distribution of the wealth. The wealth share graph illustrates that the top 1% of the population owns 30% of the aggregate economic wealth of India. The study also finds that the spending gap is also widening as the result shows that the top 10% consumes 32% of the resources. This study shows the increase in the clash between castes and the demand for a reclassification.

India, still a developing nation, considers itself poor. It marginalizes its original inhabitants and their capability. The land is taken away from their ownership by the structures that persists. Every third person in India is said to be poor. According to the statistics of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011, 29.8% of the total population is poor and they belong to the lower castes in India. According to their findings after the survey of 24.39 crore households, 30% of the rural households are landless, and depend on manual labour for survival. Among the land that is owned, 40% is not used for agriculture. In fact, only 4% is used for irrigation and mechanical agriculture techniques. Only 10% of the population own any equipment relevant for agricultural occupation. Almost 75% of the household earns less than
INR 5000 a month. Less than 5% of the population belonging to the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste earns more than INR 10000 a month. Also, according to the survey, 52% of the rural household are illiterate.

Therefore, it is always the lower caste community that suffers. There is no escape for the community from this financial matrix. Along with the imposition of hereditary occupation, the ascribed statuses makes life difficult for them. The gap between wealth and income, with regard to the caste system in India is ever widening. With a job that does not even provide for their basic requirements and growing expenditures, no one can achieve the new titles or lifestyle. Caste mobility thus becomes an illusion in India while the economy continues to rest in the hands of the elite and the few upper castes.

Picture Courtesy- Newsclick

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