The economic impact of COVID-19 has been much harder on those at the bottom of the caste ladder in India, reflecting the persistence of a system of social stigmatization that many Indians believe is a thing of the past. Untouchability has been outlawed since 1947, and an affirmative action program has lowered some barriers for stigmatized caste groups. But during the pandemic, members of lower castes suffered heavier job losses due to their higher representation in precarious daily wage jobs and their lower levels of education. Lower caste families are less able to help their children with remote learning, which threatens to worsen labor market inequality in India. But Dalits, at the bottom of the caste ladder, have recently.
How India’s Caste Inequality Has Persisted—and Deepened in the Pandemic
Ashwini Deshpande is a professor of economics and the founding director of the Centre for Economic Data and Analysis at Ashoka University, India. Parts of this essay are adapted from an online piece by the author published in December 2020 by IAI News.
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Ashwini Deshpande; How India’s Caste Inequality Has Persisted—and Deepened in the Pandemic. Current History 1 April 2021; 120 (825): 127–132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.2021.120.825.127
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