Day 29 – Q. 2 How do the various forms of social inequality, such as those based on gender, caste, and class, shape the experiences and opportunities of different individuals and communities within Indian society? Examine.

  • IASbaba
  • December 26, 2022
  • 0
GS 1, Indian Society, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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How do the various forms of social inequality, such as those based on gender, caste, and class, shape the experiences and opportunities of different individuals and communities within Indian society? Examine.

सामाजिक असमानता के विभिन्न रूप, जैसे कि लिंग, जाति और वर्ग पर आधारित, भारतीय समाज के भीतर विभिन्न व्यक्तियों और समुदायों के अनुभवों और अवसरों को कैसे आकार देते हैं? परीक्षण करें।


In this question candidates need to write about how does social inequalities such as gender,caste,and class shape experiences and opportunities of individuals and communities within Indian society.


Social inequality exists throughout the world, but perhaps nowhere has inequality been so elaborately constructed as in the Indian institution of caste. Caste ,class, and gender, has shaped the experiences for people  for many centuries.


The United Nations describes inequality as “the state of not being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities”,

  • It occurs when resources in a given society are distributed unevenly based on norms of a society that creates specific patterns along lines of socially defined categories e.g. religion, kinship, prestige, race, caste, ethnicity, gender etc. have different access to resources of power, prestige and wealth depending on the norms of a society.

Gender inequality –

  • Social Inequality due to gender have large impact on income of women. In patriarchal societies large gender wage gap tends to exist.
  • Gender wage gap is highest in India according International Labor Organization women are paid 34% less than men.
  • Women comprise over 42 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the country, yet they own less than 2 percent of its farm land according to the India Human Development Survey (IHDS).

Caste inequality –

  • Caste is significant factor for determining access to resources like education, income, health valued by individuals.
  • India’s upper caste households earned nearly 47% more than the national average annual household income, the top 10% within these castes owned 60% of the wealth within the group in 2012, as per the World Inequality Database.
  • Inequalities tend to produce social conflict among the social groups e.g. caste groups like Jaats, Maratha, Patel’s are demanding reservations but this demand is opposed by caste groups already claiming the benefits of reservations, such clash of interest due to perceived inequality tend to produce violent conflicts between opposing caste groups.
  • Poor development indicators like IMR, MMR, low per capita income, lower education and learning outcomes at schools, high rate of population growth can be traced to existing socio-economic inequalities.
  • Inequality causes a wide range of health and social problems, from reduced life expectancy and higher infant mortality to poor educational attainment, lower social mobility and increased levels of violence and mental illness.

Class inequality-

  • In rural areas, many low-caste people still suffer from landlessness, Hence create class distinction with people with land and landless people and gave rise to unemployment, and discriminatory practices
  • Inequality has been rising sharply for the last three decades. The richest have cornered a huge part of the wealth created through crony capitalism and inheritance.
  • They are getting richer at a much faster pace while the poor are still struggling to earn a minimum wage and access quality education and healthcare services, which continue to suffer from chronic under-investment.
  • The ownership of SCs/STs and OBCs in non-agricultural establishments is lower than overall figures, suggesting that India’s socially deprived groups typically face greater barriers in the non-farm sector of the economy. The scale of deprivation is however far higher for SCs and STs than for OBCs.

Caste class shaping the personal and community experiences –

  • SC/STs continue to be subjected to identity-based violence by upper castes . Additionally, a consequence of reservations is that individuals belonging to the lower castes are not viewed based on their own merits, but rather through the lens of their collective stigmatised caste identity.
  • Therefore, it is plausible that social exclusion and repeated exposure to such discrimination may affect one’s beliefs, perceptions, and aspirations even when there have been marginal economic benefits at the aggregate.
  • Caste not only dictates one’s occupation, but dietary habits and interaction with members of other castes as well. Members of a high caste enjoy more wealth and opportunities while members of a low caste perform menial jobs. Outside of the caste system are the Untouchables.

Measures to Deal with Inequalities-

  • Enforcement of Constitutional Guarantee of equality as enshrined in fundamental rights. Articles 14, 15 and 16 form part of a scheme of the Constitutional Right to Equality. Article 15 and 16 are incidents of guarantees of Equality, and gives effect to Article 14.
  • Promoting Civil Society-Provide a greater voice to traditionally oppressed and suppressed groups, including by enabling civil society groups like unions and association with in these groups.
  • Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes should be motivated to become entrepreneurs, schemes like Stand up India need to be expanded to widen its reach by increasing funding.
  • Women Empowerment-For gender equality policies like affirmative action by reserving seats in legislatures, increasing reservation at Local self government both at Urban and village level to 50% in all states, strict implementation of The Equal Remuneration act,1976 to remove wage gap, making education curriculum gender sensitive, raising awareness about women right, changing social norms through schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao etc.
  • By ensuring universal access to public funded high quality services like Public health and education, social security benefits, employment guarantee schemes; inequality can be reduced to great extent.
  • As underlying drivers of gender inequalities, discriminatory social institutions perpetuate gender gaps in development areas, such as education, employment and health, and hinder progress towards rights-based social transformation that benefits both women and men.
  • In some urbane circles, inter caste marriages linking mates of similar class status have become acceptable. Correlations between caste and occupations are declining rapidly.

Way forward-

  • In recent years, key changes have occurred in caste observances. It is now legally and socially unacceptable to openly advocate any caste’s superiority or inferiority, and lower caste groups are flexing their political muscle.
  • Even as traditional hierarchies weaken, caste identities are being reinforced, especially among disadvantaged groups with rights to special educational benefits and substantial quotas reserved for them of electoral offices and government jobs.


In order to reduce inequality in India, Govt needs to take various measures.Government  has to utilize the time to prioritize skill development A skilled economy is the need of the hour to completely utilize India’s demographic dividend towards equality

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