Publication Type: Journal article / chapter
Countries: India
Authors: Richard Axelby Vikramaditya Thakur
Funders: ERC

The socio-economic condition of Scheduled Tribe (ST) groups of India has been a key academic concern since the administrative category was established by Constitutional Order in 1950. This article explores the integration of ST groups into the present-day Indian capitalist economy along with the social and political forces that have shaped this process of inclusion from the colonial period onwards. Specifically, it compares experiences of residual poverty and relational inequality among two groups administratively classified as ST—Gaddi in Himachal Pradesh and Bhils in Maharashtra. Recognising that Gaddi and Bhils remain rooted at the bottom of socio-economic hierarchies we ask why this remains the case despite affirmative action programmes aimed at ensuring ST inclusion in educational institutions, government jobs and elected bodies along with many welfare schemes. Against the backdrop of booming India, the article documents how Bhils and Gaddis struggle to negotiate the obstacles which block paths to economic and social mobility.