The Revolt of the Upper Castes

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Jean Drèze


This article argues that the recent rise of Hindu nationalism in India can be seen as a revolt of the upper castes against the egalitarian demands of democracy. By and large, the upper castes have managed to retain their power and privileges in the post-independence period. Nevertheless, democratic institutions have forced them to accept some sharing of power and privilege in important spheres of public life. Some economic changes have also undermined their dominant position, at least in rural areas. The Hindutva project is a lifeboat for the upper castes, in so far as it stands for the restoration of the Brahminical social order that places them at the top. Seen in this light, the recent growth of Hindu nationalism is a major setback for the movement to annihilate caste and bring about a more equal society in India.


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How to Cite
Drèze, J. (2020). The Revolt of the Upper Castes. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(1), 229-236.
Author Biography

Jean Drèze, University of Delhi

 Honorary Professor, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India