• Authors: Amit Thorat, Nazar Khalid, Nikhil Srivastav, Payal Hathi, Dean Spears, and Diane Coffey
  • Published in: CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion
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Nearly seventy years after India adopted one of the most progressive constitutions in the world ensuring equality for all its citizens irrespective of caste, class, race, and gender, the mind-set of its vast majority Indian remains steeped in gender and caste bias. Results from a new telephonic survey confirm persistence of conservative gender and caste attitudes in Indian society. High proportions of men and women across all social groups disapprove of women working outside their homes, consider it ‘acceptable for husbands to beat their wives’, and would object to relatives marrying a Dalit person. Analyzing data from the National Family Health Survey and the India Human Development Survey, it has been found that outcomes associated with these attitudes are even more conservative: a smaller fraction of women work than those who feel it is okay to step out of the house for work; a larger fraction of women experience violence in marriage than men who consider marital violence acceptable, and an even smaller fraction of people have inter-caste marriages than people who say they would not oppose such an alliance. An overwhelming majority is opposed to an inter-caste marriage with a Dalit in the family. With a few exceptions, the attitudes and outcomes we studied vary, surprisingly, little by respondent gender, caste, and religion. Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy is indeed unfinished–people from all backgrounds must continue to work for the equality and dignity of women and Dalits.