This panel seeks to explore how and why Adivasis and Dalits remain at the bottom of the Indian social and economic hierarchy.
The redistribution of the fruits of Indian economic growth has been negligible for vast swathes of India's population, most of whom live in the countryside. The demographics of the poor are starkly socially marked. Dalit and Adivasi communities, who account for 25% of the country's population and were historically seen as 'untouchable' and 'savage', suffer from disproportionate levels of poverty, remaining worse off than other groups almost everywhere across the country. This panel seeks to explore why and how Adivasis and Dalits remain at the bottom of India's social and economic hierarchy. One of the key foci is the kind of livelihoods they depend on, and how access to them is shaped by the processes of inequality involving the powerlessness of Dalits and Adivasis in relation to the power of dominant social groups and institutions such as major landowners, industrialists, traders, moneylenders and power brokers, as well as the state. We invite papers that investigate livelihoods and inequality and that address the complex relations between Adivasis and Dalits, as well as between the different groups of Adivasis and Dalits, to reach a comparative understanding. We encourage papers to also pay attention to the developmental cycle of the household, and transforming intra-household relationships - especially gender and generation. We hope that the papers will help theorise the relationship between class and caste discrimination in contemporary India.