Caste Politics

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  • Topic: India, Lok Sabha, Andhra Pradesh
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Ramy Mostafa
Political Science gr.2

The Political System in India
Caste Politics

India is a multicultural and multilingual country. Indian society is broadly divided into four groups. Forward communities (FC) are communities from caste and religion who do not qualify government of India reservation benefits; Backward Communities (BC), Scheduled Castes (SC), and Scheduled Tribes (ST) were the underprivileged groups. D.r Br. Ambedkar introduced the reservation and preferential quota which guarantees seats in the government for the BC, SC and ST. India has a multi party system ruled by small regional parties. In Andhra Pradesh (AP) exist a conflict between the two caste, the Reddy’s and the kamma’s. Presently two political parties Congress and Telugu Desam Party constitute A.P politics. The central questions investigated are twofold: (1) is caste being perpetuated by politics in Andhra Pradesh, India? (2) Does the selection of leaders on the basis of caste hinder the economic, social, political development of a state? To answer these questions we use questionnaires and interview data from the ruling party officials, and also a focus group of people from the districts that I will use in my case study.

Literature review
This section reviews the relevant literature that would help me gathering information on the political system in India. This section begins by providing past issues concerning casteism in Indian politics and than describes the economic, social and political development of a state.

With regard to this literature, division of human beings based on a hierarchal system of caste can be first seen in the ancient Indian text, Manusmriti written by Manu in 200 BCE. In India Hindu is a dominating religion. There is a division of the society based on Manusmriti dividing the Hindu caste into four different principal categories. The Brahmins representing the intellectuals and priest, kshatriyas – rulers and warriors, vaishyas – agriculturists and business class persons and finally the shudras are the other workers.

Over the past years it has been noted that Caste is used “as an instrument for social change. Caste is not disappearing, nor is ‘casteism’ – the political use of caste – for what is emerging in India is a social and political system which institutionalizes and transforms but does not abolish caste” (Weiner 2001:196). This indicates that the political parties in India depend upon caste, tribes and religion for votes. As the political parties in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra get maximum number of votes from Reddy’s, Lingayat’s and Marathas respectively. It has been observed that caste influenced the voting behavior of people especially in the rural India. M.N.Srinivas a renowned Indian sociologist has called the dominant classes such as the Reddy’s and Kammas “numerically the strongest in the village or local area, and economically and politically exercise a preponderating influence.”

The previous research done on this topic also portrays that the rise of caste and politics had an impact on the earning inequality. Sumon Bhaumik centre of economic development and institution Brunel University based research during the 1987-99 periods and suggest that earning differences between upper class and ST/SC have declined over the stated period. Caste, society and politics in the Indian from the eighteenth century to the modern age by Susan Bayly will help me understanding the past and the present role of caste in politics of India especially A.P. I will research to what extend is it true that the earning differences has been declined.

What is the shape of politics now in Andhra Pradesh? Political analyst believe that Congress which is pre denominated by Reddy’s is the only rival for all political parties. They believe that if a Congress wins against Telugu Desam Party (dominated by the Kamma community) it...
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