Caste and (International) Development


1. David Mosse argues that "the evidence points to the need for policy innovation to address market and non-market discrimination and to remove barriers, especially in the informal and private sector; and to ensure caste has its proper place in the global development policy debate”.
Mosse, D. (2018). Caste and development: Contemporary perspectives on a structure of discrimination and advantage. World Development, 110, 422–436.

2. Discrimination based on work and descent (DWD) excludes and marginalises some of the most vulnerable groups in at least 20 countries while privileging others. It is an important structural cause of entrenched poverty and inequality. Inherited caste status, as found in South Asia and its global diaspora, has been described as 'an important determinant of life opportunity for a fifth of the world's population. While evidence of caste discrimination is unequivocal, there is very little data to monitor progress in addressing caste-based disparities in achieving specific SDG targets.
Saraceni, N. & Shanmugavelan M. (2019): Caste and Development: tackling discrimination based on work and descent in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. London: BOND UK.

3. Caste, modern slavery and development:
Competitive markets exploit workers of protected categories to maximise profits. Caste discrimination is no exception, fuelling slavery, child labour and the exploitation of workers in South Asia. Ethical Trade Initiative and Dalit Solidarity Network UK report making a case for caste's relevance in international business and what international actors can do to abolish caste-based modern slavery.
Base Code Guidance: Caste in global supply chains  (2019). Ethical Trade Initiative.

4. In this critique, Teltumbde theorises the unholy alliance of Hindutva, globalisation and neoliberalism that continues to exploit Dalits and other oppressed caste groups.
Teltumbde, A (2020). Chapter 2, 'Hindutva, Dalits and the Neoliberal Order'. In Teltumbde eds. Hindutva and Dalits: Perspectives for Understanding Communal Praxis: Sage, 2020. pp. 25-52.

5. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the largest social security scheme globally, guaranteeing 100 days of unskilled manual work to all rural households in India. It may be true that many Dalits and other oppressed caste groups are benefiting from this scheme. However, the 'successful' implementation of NREGA also appears to be largely contributing to a rise in social tensions and caste-identity politics.
De Neve, G., & Carswell, G. (2011). NREGA and the Return of Identity Politics in Western Tamil Nadu, India. Forum for Development Studies, 38(2), 205–210.

On caste manifestation in globalised India

6. Adivasi scholar Abhay Xaxa (1987-2020) was an activist and development practitioner who worked closely with the Adivasi land rights movement, development agencies, and media and research institutions. He wrote, "I am not your data" poem summarises the erosion of dignity of one of the most oppressed groups in south Asia in the name of development.
Xaxa, A. F. (2016, January 15). I am not your data. Adivasi Resurgence. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from

7. Jodhka, S. S., & Newman, K. (2007). In the Name of Globalisation: Meritocracy, Productivity and the Hidden Language of Caste. Economic and Political Weekly, 42(41), 4125–4132.