Impact of Inflation on Scheduled Castes in India

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IMPACT OF INFLATION ON SCHEDULED CASTES IN INDIA

Denzil Fernandes

It is over twenty years since economic reforms were introduced in India in order to respond to the economic crisis that plagued the country in 1991. A steep fall in foreign exchange reserves, rising inflation, large fiscal deficit and mounting domestic and foreign debt compelled the Government to make radical changes in its economic policies. The socialistic goals pursued by India during the first four decades after independence were abandoned and new economic goals that embraced liberalization, privatization and globalization were introduced. An analysis of the two decades of economic reforms in India reveals mixed results. On the one hand, it has resulted in higher economic growth while on the other hand, it has increased inequalities due to uneven distribution of the benefits of economic growth. Communities that have remained marginalized in the new economic environment are scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, some minority communities and other backward castes. One of the many problems that has plagued the Indian economy in the post-Reforms era is the high rate of inflation, which adversely affects the poor in the country. Since scheduled castes are among the poorest communities in India, in this article, I will dwell on the impact of inflation on scheduled caste communities in India.

Scheduled castes are those castes which have been specified in the list in accordance with Article 341 of the Constitution of India. They are regarded as outcastes and considered as “untouchables” though untouchability has been abolished ever since the Constitution came into effect. Their socio-economic indicators remain poor as they remain at the bottom of the social hierarchy, due to which they are socially deprived, discriminated and exploited by higher castes. Several development programmes introduced by the Government for the welfare of scheduled castes have only marginally improved their...
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