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Upper castes get more top jobs? No!

By Surjit S Bhalla & Sunil Jain in New Delhi
Last updated on: May 15, 2006 11:55 IST
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Upper castes in the country do not have a dramatically higher chance of getting top jobs in comparison with SC/ST and OBCs, in case all of them have the same level of education, i.e. at least a high school degree.

On the face of it, this looks unlikely since there are a lot more upper castes in top jobs than there are SC/ST or OBC high school-pass students. But once you normalise this by the size of the educated population in each group, this difference reduces dramatically.

Data taken from the National Sample Survey's 1999 round show that upper castes who've passed out of school (at the very minimum), whether they're Hindus, Sikhs or Christians, have a 39 per cent chance of landing a good job.

In this case, a good job is defined as a professional, managerial or technical job held by a person who has at least passed high school.

In 1999, the NSS says there were 8.3 million upper castes in such jobs who had passed high school, and there were a total of 21.1 million upper castes who had passed high school -- i.e. the probability of an upper caste getting employed in a good job was 39.2 per cent.

This is not dramatically different from the situation for other groups. While educated OBCs who passed high school had the smallest probability of getting a good job, of 28.6 per cent in 1999-2000, this was 31.7 per cent in the case of SC/STs.

In other words, the chances of an educated person not getting a good job are quite similar for all categories, though such chances of an upper caste are the least.

If, however, you now decide to introduce reservation in jobs, the situation will change. If 22.5 per cent of the private sector's top jobs are reserved for SC/STs, for instance, this means that, based on the 1999-2000 data, SC/STs will get a total of 2.9 million jobs, compared with the without-reservation 1.4 million.

Since the number of educated SC/ST remains the same, the probability of an educated SC/ST getting a top job doubles.

In the case of OBCs, once the reservation of 27 per cent is accepted, the number of good jobs that are theirs for the asking will be 3.5 million -- since the number of educated OBCs still remains the same 8.4 million, the probability rises by around 45 per cent.

The figure falls by 22 per cent for Muslims and for around 29 per cent in the case of upper caste Hindus, Sikhs and Christians.

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Surjit S Bhalla & Sunil Jain in New Delhi
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