Dalits in the Indian economy


Book: Dalits and adivasis in India’s business economy - three essays and an atlas
Authors: Barbara Harriss-White with others
Pages: vi+190 pages, 105 colour plates (maps)
ISBN 978-81-88789-86-3
Price: Rs 2000
Publishers: Three Essays (

India’s founding fathers and neo-liberalisers alike expected economic development to dissolve ‘archaic’ forms of exchange, but the modern Indian economy remains embedded in caste relations. At the base of the caste hierarchy are formerly untouchable and tribal workers. But a growing minority of dalits and adivasis have been incorporated into the Indian economy not as workers but as owners of firms.

The Atlas shows the striking and consistent regional and sectoral differences in the way dalits and adivasis have been incorporated into 14 occupational sectors of the business economy at both state and district levels of resolution over the period 1990 - 2005. Explaining these differences and some adverse trends during the era of globalisation is a task that the three essays accompanying the Atlas attempt to begin.

Using contemporary field research, dalit narratives and statistical data they explore the dalit experience of disadvantageous entry into markets, the state and civil society; their adverse experience of business associations regulating markets; and the surprisingly distinctive patterns of regional disadvantage that dalit and adivasi businesses suffer.

This unusual book is a ‘must-read’ for everyone concerned with India’s development and social justice. It also generates an agenda for a new wave of activist- researchers.

Dalit Capital In The New India by Aseem Prakash and Barbara Harriss-White
Scheduled and backward castes in the social structure of accumulation:The case of a small town economy in south India by Barbara Harriss-White and Elisabetta Basile
Regions Of Dalit And Adivasi Discrimination In India’s Business Economy by Barbara Harriss-White, Kaushal Vidyarthee and Anita Dixit
Atlas: An Atlas Of Dalit And Adivasi Participation In The Indian Business Economy, 1990-2005 by Barbara Harriss-White, Kaushal Vidyarthee and Pinaki Joddar

Barbara Harriss-White is Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at Oxford University; Aseem Prakash is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Jindal Global University; Elisabetta Basile is Professor of Public Economics, Rome University; Kaushal Vidyarthee is a doctoral student in social policy, Oxford University; Anita Dixit is with the Knowledge Resource Centre, Azim Premji Foundation and Pinaki Joddar is with IPE Global (Pvt Ltd).

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2013 on page no. 21

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at

blog comments powered by Disqus