Sunday, January 29, 2012

Economic Analysis of Caste - A beginning

Caste systems effectively reserve high-value jobs/businesses for a privileged elite by preventing equal access to education, training, finance, ownership/operation of land/assets, fair-markets and/or not building mechanisms to redress the effects of past unequal access.

Typically the high value jobs/businesses will include those providing high return, low risk, prestige etc in direct or indirect ways and the lower value jobs/businesses will be those with lower return, higher risk and lower prestige.

Presently and in the future, the high value jobs/businesses are less organised around economic capital and more around human (intellectual, social and spiritual) capital. This is the reason for the prevalence of "caste" in modern societies everywhere in newer forms.

Typically the effect of the past lack of equal access is the relative imbalance of capital (social, economic, political, intellectual and even spiritual) between the privileged elite and the underprivileged "dalits".

Untouchability is an extreme form of caste whose economic sub-optimality is immediately obvious from the two-tumbler example. Extending that example, I really wonder why there is so little analysis of the annual cost-drag due to caste on the Indian economy. The subtleness of similarity with aparthied cannot be the only reason. I see the caste of those who allocated funds in India to competing priorities at macroeconomic levels as the reason for continuance of caste. The caste of Indian economists too prevented them from asking appropriate relevant questions with adequate force and evidence.

Allocating lower funds towards education of the underprivileged dalits and or ensuring that prevention from getting the best educations by non-economic means (manus-smriti equivalents) is the primary tool for sustaining caste.

This is why Dr. Ambedkars first message was "EDUCATE". Of course the education was not merely limited to vocational and "classics- centric" education, but also a "social education" - overall creation of the "right view" in buddhist tradition - indoctrination if you like. But education by itself is inadequate to remove the stranglehold on the caste system which "allocates" individuals to their "allocative" roles and to those roles which study and propose the best basis for "allocation". So he has suggested "organisation"
and "agitation" as the tools within the democratic framework to radically transform the system. There is an important secret to the "organise" word, which is reflected in a whole group of lower castes now forgetting their internal differences en-route to higher levels of aggregations of castes, finally eliminating the very system of caste itself. At each such level of organisation, there is a agitation (within democratic framework) against the proponents of caste who seek to retain caste.


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