Role of Caste in Indian Politics


Besides voting, the caste is an important factor, influencing the selection of candidates in elections, appointment of ministers, transfer and posting of public officials etc. the policy of reservation has given further impetus to the role of caste in politics, particularly in the last few years. The role of caste in the different aspects of politics is given below:

Caste has influenced the policy-making of the government, for example the policy of reservation in favour of certain castes.
The programmes, policies and declarations of political parties are made, keeping in view the caste factor. Even different positions within a political party are distributed in terms of caste configurations.

Caste plays a very important role in elections and voting. Political parties select their candidates on the basis of caste composition in the constituency. The voting in elections and mobilisation of political support from top to bottom moves on the caste lines.

The caste factor also influences the formation of the council of ministers and making appointments to various political positions in the government.

Caste also functions, as a pressure group in politics. Political bargaining is also done on the caste lines. Caste organisations have emerged to organise caste members for collective bargaining with each other.

The administration has not escaped the influence of the caste in India. The postings, transfers and appointments of public officials are influenced by caste considerations.

Even the behaviour of public officials in carrying out administrative duties get influenced by caste considerations.

The political leadership in many political parties emerges and survives in politics on the basis of the support of certain caste groups.
There are many political experts who consider the increasing influence of caste in politics as a negative tendency, not helpful in the development of democracy. Experts like D.R. Gadgil and famous sociologist M.N. Srinivas hold this view.

However, there are commentators and thinkers who hold that the role of caste is essential to give momentum to the political process. American political experts I.Rudolf and S.H. Rudolf in their book, ‘Modernity and Tradition’ hold the view that caste politics in India has reduced the distinction among castes and has brought about political equality among the members of different castes.

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