Vast Income Inequalities Within Castes – Top 10% Among Forward Castes Own 60% Wealth

Bengaluru, Jan 14 Although India’s upper caste households earned nearly 47% more than the national average annual household income, the top 10% within these castes owned 60% of the wealth within the group in 2012, as per a recent paper by the World Inequality Database.

Further, the wealthiest 1% among them grew their wealth by nearly 16 percentage points to 29.4% over the decade to 2012, the paper, entitled ‘Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012’ and published in November 2018, said.

The vast inequality of income and wealth between and within castes highlighted in the paper are significant in the light of the Bharatiya Janata Party government’s new bill to entitle poorer sections among the forward castes to a 10% quota in government jobs and higher education institutions, which has been challenged in court.

Not only is the wealth and income gap large, it is growing–across all castes, in the 36 years till 2016, the share of wealth held by the top 10% has increased 24 percentage points to 55%, as IndiaSpend reported on January 2, 2019.

Inequality between castes
Marginalised caste groups such as the scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and other backward castes (OBCs) earn much less than the national household income average of Rs 113,222, according to the paper. SC and ST households earn 21% and 34%, respectively, less than the national average. OBC households fare better but still earn 8% or Rs 9,123 less than the annual Indian average.

Among upper caste groups, Brahmins earn 48% above the national average and non-Brahmin forward castes, 45%, said the paper, ‘Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012’.

On January 9, 2019, the Indian parliament approved the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill to provide 10% reservation in government jobs and higher education institutions for economically weaker sections of the general category of citizens. These are families that do not belong to SC, ST or OBC categories, and earn less than Rs 800,000 annually, own less than 5 hectares of agricultural land and own residential properties smaller than 1,000 sq.ft. Read Full Story

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