Recent Trends in Class Formation and Polarization and its Impact on Caste-Class Identities Among Dalits - A Socio - Political Study of Firozabad Tehsil of U.P.


AnjuAgrawal, Dr. K.C. Srivastava

1Research Scholar, S.R.K PG Degree College, Firozabad (U.P.)

2Supervisor, Retd.Head, Department of Sociology, S.R.K PG Degree College, Firozabad (U.P.)

*Corresponding Author Email:



Class formation has a great impact on the politics. Political orientation depends upon many factors, out of which class is probably the most important. People first see the cast and class and then demark and chose the candidate to be voted and elected. True representation has always been an issue in the Indian Politics. Even after around 70 years of the dream the representation of all classes specially ‘dalits’ is not proper in the politics. That is why they have become more firm to form classes and vote for the candidates of their community so that to enhance representation in the politics. The present paper is based on primary and secondary, both type of data so it is empirical in nature. Primary data was collected from 236 voters of ‘dalit’ community. Their behavioual information were collected and analyzed to confirm whether caste identities are important for them and they still consider that cast identities are important and class formation is mandatory. The study is based on the sample collected from Firozabad Tehsil of UP. Statistical tools such as percentage and multiple regression analysis have been applied to analyze the data.


KEYWORDS: Cast class identities, class formation, dalits, Firozabad tehsil, chi-square




The Indian caste system is a complex social structure wherein social roles like one’s profession became ‘hereditary,’ resulting in restricted social mobility and fixed status hierarchies. Furthermore, we argue that the inherent property of caste heightens group identification with one’s caste. Highly identified group members would protect the identity of the group in situations when group norms are violated. People in general belong to many social categories that could either be achieved, such as one’s profession, or inherited, such as one’s gender.


The consequences of social categorizations are often not only seen in the dynamics of social interactions, but also in the way social status is represented. For the present research, the Indian/Hindu caste system is of interest, which is an integral feature of the Indian societal structure.


In politics, polarization can refer to the divergence of political attitudes to ideological extremes. Polarization can refer to such divergence like public opinion or even to such divergence within certain groups. Polarization occurs when public opinion goes to two extremes, and there is no real middle ground or moderates. Inherited caste identity is an important determinant of life opportunity for a fifth of the world’s population, but is not given the same significance in global development policy debates as gender, race, age, religion or other identity characteristics. This review asks why addressing caste-based inequality and discrimination does not feature in intergovernmental commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and whether it should. Taking India as its focus, it finds that caste has been treated as an archaic system and source of historical disadvantage due compensation through affirmative action in ways that overlook its continuing importance as a structure of advantage and of discrimination in the modern economy, especially post-liberalization from the 1990s. A body of recent literature from anthropology, economics, history and political science is used to explore the modern life of caste in society, economy and development. Questions are asked about caste as social hierarchy, the role of caste in post-liberalization rural inequality, in urban labor markets and in the business economy, and the effect of policies of affirmative action in public-sector education and employment. Caste is found to be a complex institution, simultaneously weakened and revived by current economic and political forces; it is a contributor to persisting national socioeconomic and human capital disparities, and has major impacts on subjective well being. Caste effects are not locational; they travel from the village to the city and into virtually all markets. Caste persists in the age of the market because of its advantages – its discriminations allow opportunity hoarding for others; and the threat of the advancement of subordinated groups provokes humiliating violence against them.


Several international human rights organizations insist that worldwide over 260 million people suffer from discrimination based on caste (or ‘work and descent’, the UN terminology for such systems of inherited status), that caste is “a fundamental determinant [of] social exclusion and development”1, and affects some 20–25 percent of the world’s population – including (but not restricted to) the peoples of South Asian nations and their diasporas. They have lobbied for caste to be recognized in progress indicators and data disaggregation. One of the most common social problems of the caste system was the discrimination of low caste members as explained earlier. In 1950, independent India’s constitution banned caste-based discrimination and in order to compensate for historical injustices the authorities introduced quotas in government jobs and educational institutions to improve the quality of life of low castes. A reservation system was introduced wherein a certain number of seats were reserved for members of the lower castes at places of higher education and government jobs. However, this legislation was soon met with a lot of resistance from the high caste community who felt that the system was not meritocratic, and provided an unjust advantage to the low caste members. We believe that the reservation system is one of the most important social consequences of the caste system in modern times, and attitudes toward the system would have to be a reflection of one’s caste identity.



Srinivasulu (2002) found that the emergence of the TDP resolved some of the asymmetry between the economic position and under-representation in the political system of the neo-rich (especially belonging to the Kamma community) of this advanced region. This class, in the process of mobilising support for the TDP, sought to translate the economic dependence of the lower castes into political loyalty. The latter’s resistance resulted in massive and well-organised riots against dalits. Crucial to this dalit assertion 60 are the emergence of an educated youth and a growing awareness of their rights. Jaspal (2011) explored that the caste functions as a potent social identity, since members of both the SCs and the HCGs frequently regard themselves and are regarded by outgroups, primarily in terms of their caste group membership. Existing research into caste identity reveals the social stigmatisation of the SCs both among the HCGs and among many SC members themselves.


Bharti (2018) found that the economic inequality is working as a skin for caste inequality. The ordering of averages based on any economic or educational parameters of different castes follow the caste hierarchy. The measure of positive discrimination is not working on average. Gang (2012) found that the high prevalence of agricultural labour among SC households can be traced in part to the Indian caste system, which is a social order with hierarchically ordered occupational types, with the SC social group clustered in occupations that were the least well paid and most degrading in terms of manual labour. Since independence, the Indian government enacted large-scale affirmative action policies in educational institutions and public sector employment to help provide routes out of poverty for SC and ST households.


Zuber (2013) investigated and concluded thatIndian sociology deals, directly or indirectly with the social stratification or caste. In this regard, the Indian society has been studied both by the local sociologists as well as the alien sociologists. The focus of these studies has been on the origin, dynamics, implications and change in the Hindu caste system excluding Muslims from their studies. Sharma (1984) found that social relations and position of women matter a lot in the economic development and political development. Samuelsen (2011) found thatthe process of politicization is seen through the idea of ‘Dalithood’. The activists that figure here are ‘Dalit’ by birth, but they are not ‘Dalit’ in the sense ‘broken, ground down, oppressed’. The activists are part of what I have argued is an emerging ‘politics of difference’, which seeks to redefine collectively the status of the group to which they belong. This politics is premised on a sharp conceptualisation of ‘us’ and ‘them’, where the ‘upper castes’ or ‘non-Dalits’ are the oppressors and the Dalits the victims of their oppression. I argue that the dynamics between a narrative of community progress and this specific narrative of ‘Dalithood’ serve to situate ‘the Dalit’ as perpetually at the receiving end of relations of status and power.


Kumar (2012) concluded that conversely the proliferation of small holdings in the large semi-irrigated region ought to propel governments to take policy measures to protect the survival of the marginal, small and middle peasants particularly in present circumstances when the cases of farmers’ suicides are frequently reported.Para 2013:> The technology points out that the system of school education and policy intervention in education have been largely at the level of provisioning and providing incentives to encourage schooling . While provisioning is inadequate in terms of physical access even at primary stage, the issue of how socially accessible the schools really are for Dalits has never been addressed. This is important because the policy fails to acknowledge or confront the role of discriminatory caste relations that pervade the educational experiences of Dalit children. It is clear that caste continues to obstruct the access of Dalit children to schooling as well as the quality of education they receive. Increasing costs of education, the need for children’s contribution to work for the maintenance of family remain serious issues to be considered. Poverty continues to be a major impediment in the education of Dalit children.


Bhagat (2001) found that the census exercise in colonial India introduced the concepts and categories of religion according to colonial perception of Indian society as primordial pre-capitalist entities. The boundary line between different communities in India was obscure and communal consciousness lacking. It is now obvious that the Census of 2001 is more conscious of this fact and intends to publish the socio-economic data along with demographic data on religion. This will certainly weaken the force of demographic communalism in the country in the long run. Ronald (2011) highlighted that while we are at the 75th year of social work education in India and aiming to prepare the next generation of masters’ level social workers, we are also facing the gravest complaint of sidelining the issue of dalits. Caste continues to be the major structural barrier for millions of people in the country. No matter what the country achieve in terms of economic growth can compensate the situation. Even though social work programmes are driven by social mission for the upliftment of poor, the problems of dalits (scheduled caste) who constitute more than 15% of the population are rarely discussed, leave alone intervention. It is therefore important at this juncture to identify with structural issues challenging inclusive society and thereby incorporating dalit and social justice component in the social work education programmes in the country.



There are two objectives of this paper:


3.1 Objectives:

1.      To find the reasons of class formation in Firozabad tehsil with respect to the political orientation.

2.      To find the impact of class Formation and Polarization and its Impact on Caste-Class Identities


3.2 Hypothesis:

Ho There is no impact of class Formation and Polarization and its Impact on Caste-Class Identities based on various reasons of class formation.

Ha There is a significant impact of class Formation and Polarization and its Impact on Caste-Class Identities based on various reasons of class formation.



Methodology is a scientific process to reach to findings of a study. This study is exploratory and empirical in nature. The study is mainly based on primary data but secondary data has also been collected and used with the help of various magazines and journals in the form of articles mentioned as literature review in this paper.


The primary data has been collected from 236 voters of Firozabad tehsil who belonged to ‘dalit’ community. The questionnaire was design with a view to find out the reasons of political polarization and class formation. Around 400 respondents were contacted for filling the questionnaire but finally 236 questionnaire were found fit for the study with a response rate of 59%.



5.1 Demographic Characteristics of the Respondents:


Table 1 Gender



Respondents %











There are around 63% males and 37% females in the current set of respondents.


Table 2 Age


No. of Respondents

Respondents %

18 - 25



25- 40



Above 40







Maximum respondents i.e. around 39% belong to the age group of 25-40 followed by the age group of 18-25 (around 36%).


Table 3 Income Profile of the Respondents


No. of Respondents

Respondents %

below 1 lack per year



1 to 3 lack per year



Above 3 lack per year






As per table 3, 47% respondents earn below 1 lack per year followed by 31.36% respondents who earn 1 to 3 lack per year and lastly 21.19% respondents earn more than 3 lack per year.


Table 4 Marital Status


No. of Respondents

Respondents %











There are 75% respondents who are married and around 25% respondents who are unmarried.


Table 5 Educational Qualifications


No. of Respondents

Respondents %

Intermediate school






Post graduate and above







Regarding educational qualifications, it was found that around 35% are intermediate school, 36% are graduate and around 29% are post graduate and above.


5.2 Reasons of Class Formation and Polarization:


Table 6 Reasons of class formation and polarization

Sl. No.


Mean Value on 5 point scale


Dalits have low representation in Current political system



Other caste leaders do not listen to the problems of Dalits



Dalits feel safe when their elected leader is of their own caste / community



Polarization is a need to be politically strong



Cast formation / Cast Class identities will ensure better political representation in future



Cast formation and polarization is the way to safeguard from oppression and discrimination



I strongly support and believe in cast class identities



Table 6 shows the reasons of class formation and polarization. The most important reasons is Cast formation and polarization is the way to safeguard from oppression and discrimination with a mean value of 4.61, followed by Cast formation / Cast Class identities will ensure better political representation in future with a mean value of 4.38 and Polarization is a need to be politically strong and Dalits have low representation in Current political system with mean values of 4.25 and 4.23 respectively.


The last statement is a dependent variable on which the impact of other six statements is to be checked. This statement is I strongly support and believe in cast class identities, it also has a good mean value of 4.01 out of 5.


5.3 Regression Analysis and Hypothesis testing:


Table 7 Regression Results


Standardized Coefficients











Dalits have low representation in Current political system




Other caste leaders do not listen to the problems of Dalits




Dalits feel safe when their elected leader is of their own caste / community




Polarization is a need to be politically strong




Cast formation / Cast Class identities will ensure better political representation in future




Cast formation and polarization is the way to safeguard from oppression and discrimination





Table 7 shows the results of the impact of independent variables on the dependent variable. There were 6 statements whose impact was found on the dependent statement i.e. “I strongly support and believe in cast class identities” has been found from the tale that, in the significance value column all the values of below 0.05.


Results of Hypothesis Testing:

In hypothesis testing it should be noted that on 5% significance level a null hypothesis is rejected when the significance (p value in the significance column, refer table 7) values is below .05. As per the table 7, all the 6 variables have significant impact on the dependent variable hence null hypotheses are rejected and alternate hypothesis viz. “There is a significant impact of class Formation and Polarization and its Impact on Caste-Class Identities based on various reasons of class formation” is selected.



Class Formation and Polarization and Caste-Class Identities among Dalitshave always been a reality of Indian political and social system. The present study confirms the same. The study strongly affirms that Dalits are conscious about the activities, political representation and other aspects of their communities and caste-class. The study has found that the cast class identity is significantly affected by low representation of dalits in current political system, less sensitivity of the other caste leaders towards problems of Dalits, Dalits feel safe when their elected leader is of their own caste / community, Polarization is a need to be politically strong and Cast formation / Cast Class identities will ensure better political representation in future. Further dalits also feel that cast formation and polarization is the way to safeguard from oppression and discrimination.


There is a long way to go for abolition of cast system in India. In fact the class consciousness is taking a worse shape in than ever before. The commitments by political parties and leaders of other castes are never fulfilled for any section of the society, hence the deprived section remains deprived and they think that polarization is the only solution to overcome these problems. The present study also opens up lot of new areas to be worked out. The study has been done in the Firozabad tehsil, and may be extended to other tehsils and districts for better representation.



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2.       Bharti, N., K., 2018 “Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India”, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Paris School of Economics, Pp. 1-71

3.       Gang, I., et al. 2012 “Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification among Dalits in Rural India”, IZA Discussion Paper No. 6295, Pp. 1-68

4.       Jaspal, R., 2011 “Caste, Social Stigma and Identity Processes” Psychology and Developing Societies, 23, 1 (2011): 27–62, Pp. 1-38

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9.       Sharma M., 1984 “Caste, Class, and Gender: Women's Role in Agricultural Production in North India”, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Hawaii, Pp. 1-41

10.     Srinivasulu, K. (2002) “Caste, Class and Social Articulation in Andhra Pradesh:

11.     Mapping Differential Regional Trajectories”, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Political Science Osmania University, Hyderabad, P.p. - 1-72

12.     Irshad, A., W., et al. 2013, “Revisiting Social Stratification in Indian Society: A Review andAnalysis with Focus on Kashmiri Society”, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, P.p. - 1-10






Received on 21.02.2019       Modified on 28.02.2019

Accepted on 10.03.2019      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(1): 193-197.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2019.00033.0