Dr.  Raju Kalmesh Sawant

M.A. B.Ed, M. Phil, Ph.D 

Assist. Professor (Dept. of Political Science)

N.D.Patil Night College, Sangli

Email Id:

Contact No: 9890207898


                            India is a country with traditions and history. We were an economic success saga over centuries and had always attracted foreign traders in lieu of our products and services. Our economic success depended a lot upon the structure of society which was based on specialization of tasks performed by each class of society. This gave birth to caste system which is deep rooted in our society since the time of its existence. Ever since then our society has been divided into oppressed and oppressor. Where the oppressors still haven’t come out of the feudal mind-set, the oppressed still feel that they haven’t been compensated enough for the atrocities borne by their forefathers. These emotions still play very important role in present time politics. In our country there are a number of local leaders who claim to have mastered a vote bank of a particular caste, and a number of times we can find whole political parties with caste based vote bank. What makes the matter more complex is the presence of sub-castes within the castes, and self proclaimed representatives of all those clans. Although caste is predominantly a dividing system of society but since the time of independence it has proved to be a boon for weaker sections. Since caste system is mainly a system developed for smooth economic functioning, the lower castes were the ones economically and socially weaker too. These groups of society went unrepresented for a long period in politics and thus had no voice or power and were repressed whenever they tried to raise their voices. When our country got free constitution makers were very much worried about giving everyone equal rights in society, and for this they went for the system of one person one vote, thus handling the oppressed castes right to choose their own representatives.

Key Words: Attracted, Oppressed And Oppressor, Proclaimed Economically etc.

Full Paper 


Caste in Indian society refers to a social group where membership decided by birth. Members of such local group are endogamous, i.e. they tend to enter into marital relationships among themselves.   It was institutionalized into government organizations by British colonizers. The removal of the boundaries between “civil society” and “political society” meant that caste now played a huge role in the political arena and also influenced other government-run institutions such as police and the judicial system. Though caste seemed to dictate one’s access to such institutions, the location of that caste also played a pivotal role. If a lower caste were concentrated enough in one area, it could then translate that pocket of concentration of its caste members into political power and then challenge the hegemony of locally dominant upper caste. Gender also plays a significant role in the power dynamic of caste in politics. Women’s representation within the political system seems to also be tied to their caste. Lower, more conservative castes have less female participation in politics than upper, more socially liberal, castes. This has caused a disproportionately large number of upper-caste women to occupy political office when compared to their lower caste counterparts. The hierarchy of caste and its role in politics and access to power and resources has created a society of patron-client relationships along caste lines. This staunchly rigid structure was most prevalent during the Congress-dominating period. This eventually led to the practice of vote banking, where voters back only candidates that are in their caste or officials from which they expect to receive some kind of benefits.


To study the relationship between Caste and Politics.

To study the role of caste in politics in India


The present study has been descriptive; the data for this study were obtained from secondary sources. The secondary data has been collected from various references which already existed in published form; part of the paper is based on literature review the method comprising of collecting all the available papers relating to the theme and selecting relevant papers/books for the review purpose. Selection of the paper is done on the basis of their relevance and contribution to the body of knowledge. The author has made an attempt to do primary reading of the selected papers which will constitute the core of this review study.


Caste has always been central to modern Indian politics. Even the power structure of medieval India was based on caste. Caste also operated as the central principle in the distribution of power and material resources in the colonial period. Colonialism in India created a democratic and modernist space; nevertheless this space was also predominantly captured by upper-caste groups. The nationalist struggle against the imperial power was aimed at establishing the caste-class hegemony. Non-Brahmin and low-caste movements were active during the colonial era, broadly pursuing two aims: achieving upward caste-class mobility and annihilation of caste. The caste system played a significant role in determining the content and direction of the processes of political socialization, political mobilization and institutionalization within the framework of modern democracy. The dynamics of caste and class were at the root of he complexity of Indian politics in its functioning. Behind the seemingly religious and communal movements in post-independent India, it was the dynamics of caste-class hegemony that was the real operational factor. Both the anti-caste and the upwardly mobile caste movements are guiding the pro reservation movement, which aims at upward class mobility of the hitherto excluded castes. The pro-imperialist bourgeois policies of the ruling class and the struggles against these policies are also influenced and shaped by the tensions and contradictions in caste-class dynamics. 

  • Caste has influenced the policy-making of the government, for example the policy of reservation in favor of certain castes.
  • The programmes, policies and declarations of political parties are made, keeping in view the caste factor. Even different positions within a political party are distributed in terms of caste configurations.
  • Caste plays a very important role in elections and voting. Political parties select their candidates on the basis of caste composition in the constituency. The voting in elections and mobilization of political support from top to bottom moves on the caste lines.
  • The caste factor also influences the formation of the council of ministers and making appointments to various political positions in the government.
  • Caste also functions, as a pressure group in politics. Political bargaining is also done on the caste lines. Caste organizations have emerged to organize caste members for collective bargaining with each other.
  • The administration has not escaped the influence of the caste in India. The postings, transfers and appointments of public officials are influenced by caste considerations.
  • Even the behavior of public officials in carrying out administrative duties gets influenced by caste considerations.
  • The political leadership in many political parties emerges and survives in politics on the basis of the support of certain caste groups.
  • There are many political experts who consider the increasing influence of caste in politics as a negative tendency, not helpful in the development of democracy.

Caste is playing a major role in the process of politics in India. Therefore understanding of Indian politics is possible only with thorough understanding of the complexities of caste system. In this context present paper is trying to bring such an understanding, with the help of pre and post independence development and its positive and negative aspects in the process of democratic politics i.e., inclusive development The caste system played a significant role in determining the content and direction of the processes of political socialization, political mobilization and institutionalization within the framework of modern democracy. The dynamics of caste and class were at the root of the complexity of Indian politics in its functioning.

  1. Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age, Cambridge University Press ,2001
  2. Hasan Z. 2000. Representation and redistribution: the new lower caste politics of north India.
  5. Manor J. 1997. Caste and class in a cohesive society.





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