The questions, posed in this book are: How do caste backgrounds influence, in contemporary India, the distribution of income, wealth, and secular status (together called socio-economic status or ‘class’)? How important are caste backgrounds for political involvement? Have the statutory hostility to untouchability, and the package of reverse discrimination in favour of the ex-untouchables, made a dent in their traditional disabilities in relation to occupations (and therefore income and wealth) and to political participation? These questions have been around for a long time, and it would admittedly be difficult to say something very new about them. By and large, the positions Bhatt takes have long been part of the conventional wisdom within a certain tradition. He arrives at them by analysing questionnaire responses from 1,757 Hindus, selected from 100 rural and 20 urban communities in Andhra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal through a random sampling procedure specified in Appendix A. The data collection was part of Sidney Verba’s larger cross-national study of political and social change. Bhatt’s analytic procedure bears the strong imprint of his mentor, but I shall leave judgements regarding the statistical operation to the professional journals.
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