Jens Lerche
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Alpa Shah
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Social oppression and exploitation of Adivasis and Dalits in contemporary India
in Passionate politics
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At the 2019 general election in India, the BJP succeeded in gaining more of the Dalit, Adivasi and OBC vote. This chapter highlights the everyday politics of social oppression and exploitation faced by Dalits and Adivasis in India. India is a society of graded inequalities, with Adivasis and Dalits – who make up 25% of the population – at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. They continue to fare worse than all other groups on all main social and economic standard indicators. The focus here is on how historical relations of oppression of Dalits and Adivasis have been given new life and new meanings in modern India. Contrary to the expectations of the founders of Independent India, caste as a social category and caste-based discrimination have not withered away. Modi’s regime has exacerbated this, but the modern oppression of Dalits and Adivasis was in place well before the BJP came to power: the previous Congress Party-led governments have also been part and parcel of this development.

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Passionate politics

Democracy, development and India’s 2019 general election



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