Caste-Class Conundrum under Neo-liberalism- A Discursive Investigation into Class Formation in India Prof.K.S.Chalam

The present thriving neo-liberal agenda in India was officially declared in 1991. It had its trajectory from different sources, some internal and the key inputs received through the World Bank sponsored the
‗Washington Consensus‘ (term coined by John Williamson, the Nobel Laureate in Economics) project. The
Ten Commandments as noted by Yujiro Hayami and Yoshihisa Godo 1 consisting of mostly fiscal and
market liberalisation recommendations have been faithfully implemented by the Government in India and
helped to unleash market fundamentals along with its associated non-economic elements to grip the
country. The World Economic Crisis manifested in the USA under subprime mortgage frauds during 2008
was considered as tip of an iceberg of a gigantic avalanche spread across the capitalist west did not affect
India as much as it could affect others. The consequences of the US crisis are global in nature as the US
dollar by stealth or through arm-twisting is made a unit of universal exchange. There is another dimension
to the crisis: there are 500 and odd MNCs that run the economies and governments of the World mostly
from corporate offices positioned in USA is the new Avatar of colonialism with necessary institutional
structures like the WTO, World Bank, IMF etc. Some of the activists and scholars are indolent in simplifying
the crisis as if it is not different from what Marx, Engels and Lenin have predicted and the system will
crumble by its own weight sooner or later. In fact, there are scholars who subscribe to the relevance of
market today but feel unhappy about its consequences. They keep on digging information and data to show
how the system is becoming unreasonable giving hints for the victims to take on the capitalist system
through ‗war of position‘ and ‗war of manoeuvring‘.
Neo-liberalism in Action
The impact of the neo liberal economic policies was felt by people when the human conditions of
work and leisure started pilfering in the late 1980s. Amartya Sen and Mahabub Ul Haq2 started working on
themes to make development people centric and see how countries perform in this framework through
Human Development Index produced in 1990. The UN through its UNDP brings out Reports year after year
that indicate the status of education, income and longevity of nations. The 2015 Report is on the ‗Work for
Human Development‘ and noted that from a human development perspective, the notion of work is broader
and deeper than that of jobs or employment alone. For this report, ―work is any activity that not only leads
to the production and consumption of goods or services, but also goes beyond production for economic
value. Work, thus includes activities that may result in broader human well-being, both for the present and
for the future. Work involves four sets of people: workers themselves; other entities such as employers who
provide complementary inputs; consumers of the goods or services produced; and the rest of the world,
which encompasses other people, society and the natural environment as well as future generations and

1 Valedictory Address delivered at National Seminar on “Liberalisation and Class-Caste Dynamics in India”, School
of Economics, University of Hyderabad, 27-28 July 2023. Chairman, IESJ, Visakhapatnam -530017
the workers‘ future selves. Work has both monetary and nonmonetary returns, tangible and intangible, with
expressed and unintended consequences. Consider someone who is cooking. If cooking for Jobs provide
income and support human dignity, participation and economic security. But the jobs framework fails to
capture many kinds of work that have important human development implications as with care work,
voluntary work and such creative work as writing or painting‖.3 The definition of work has broad canvas that
addresses questions raised by women activists with several implications for the concepts of worker and
Class in the twenty first century.
We are citing below some important findings of the 2015 UNDP report that has reference for
worker. ―Technology, particularly ICT has brought several changes in the nature of work, though some may
argue that it is embedded capital. In fact, it has brought tremendous modifications not only in product
design but the process of work that resulted in inequities. For instance, access to the digital revolution is
uneven across regions, sexes, age groups and the urban–rural divide….In 2015, 81 percent of households
in developed countries had Internet access, compared with only 34 per cent in developing country regions
and 7 per cent in the least developed countries. Globalization brings workers and businesses together in
global networks through sourcing and global value chains. Companies relocate or subcontract (or a bit of
both) some functions or noncore activities to other countries where costs are lower. For example, Apple
employs only 63,000 of the more than 750,000 people around the world who design, sell, manufacture and
assemble its products. Many economic activities are now integrated in global value chains that span
countries, sometimes continents. This integration goes from raw materials and subcomponents to market
access and after-sales services. Production is mainly of intermediate goods and services organized in
fragmented and internationally dispersed production processes, coordinated by multinational companies
and cutting across industries. In recent years knowledge has become central to production. Even in
manufacturing the value of finished goods comes increasingly from embodied knowledge. In recent years
the digital revolution has accelerated the global production of goods and services, particularly digital trade.
In 2014 global trade in goods reached $18.9 trillion and trade in services $4.9 trillion‖.3
The digital revolution has produced new areas of operation. While outsourcing in general seems
beneficial to developing country regions, it has consequences for workers in developed countries.
Estimates vary, and the long-term impacts are less clear than the short-term effects, but job losses are
greater in manufacturing than services. Short-term job losses due to off shoring have been found to range
from 0 in some countries to almost 55 per cent of all job losses in Portugal. Today, jobs that involve
administrative support, business and financial operations, and computer and mathematical tasks are most
likely to be outsourced. In recent years knowledge has become central to production and in the United
States 20–29 percent of all jobs have the potential to be offshore, though it is unlikely that all of them will be
in course of time. Many jobs in this estimate are in medium- and high-skilled service professions that can
be carried out at lower cost abroad as education levels raise and information and communications
technology infrastructures improve. So, while there may be immense benefits in access to new jobs in
countries hosting offshore activities, individuals losing jobs may require training and new skills for a more
competitive environment. To ease the adjustment, programmes are augmented to help people find new
work, enhance their skills and maintain access to a basic income. Training can also enhance the abilities of
workers in developing countries to access the new jobs. It has impacted the knowledge industries including
Developed and Developing Countries Integrated
The integration of developing countries in global value chains has increased opportunities for paid
work and prompted a shift in labour force participation for women (many find jobs in the garment industry).
In 2013, 453 million workers (up from 296 million in 1995), including190 million women, were involved in
global value chains. But, such integration does not say much about the quality of work and whether workers
have expanded their human capabilities. There are concerns about levels of labour protection and
opportunities for skills upgrading. The global value chain system generates winners and losers, within and
across countries and industries. The footloose nature of global value chains can generate less job security
and put even more pressure on governments and subcontractors to minimize costs. This in turn puts
pressures on worker‘s wages and working conditions, particularly among the low skilled. Developing
countries also face the risk of becoming locked into low value-added nodes of global value chains that limit
work opportunities, skill development and technology exposure.
The economic benefits of this change are seen in terms of remittances of expatriates. Remittances
have been a major source of foreign exchange reserves for many developing countries, with considerable
macroeconomic implications. But at the microeconomic level remittances have been the lifeline of many
households in terms of income, as well as in terms of resources for better health and education. Officially
recorded global remittances totalled $583 billion or more than four times the global official development
assistance in 2014 and are projected to reach $ 647 billion in 2022. The top recipients in 2022 were India
($100 billion, or 4 percent of GDP), China ($ 53 billion, less than 1 percent), the Philippines ($38 billion, 10
percent) and Mexico ($60 billion, 2 percent). Remittance flows are even more important in some Eastern
European and Commonwealth of Independent States countries. Remittances in Tajikistan were equivalent
to 49 percent of GDP in 2013. Migrants also send remittances through unofficial channels or carry them
when they return to their home country. Remittances of Indian workers from the Middle East mostly to
Kerala, Telangana, Bihar etc relate to workers of low or middle skilled jobs but in terms of value, they are
higher than the receipts from USA.
In many areas of work, the labour market is now global. Multinational corporations have access to
labour around the world, and workers must compete on a global scale for jobs. Digital technologies
heighten the competition by removing geographical barriers between workers and work demands—in many
cases it is not even necessary for a company to move physically or for a worker to migrate. The work
connection can be made through the Internet or mobile phones. That there is a global labour surplus makes
competition among workers even fiercer. The duration of work is uncertain and the physical location of the
worker is precarious. Therefore, migration and short-term trips without proper documentation has become
frequent leading to deaths due to drowning on international borders. The internal migration of labourers in
India is one of the highest in the World (it is estimated to be 45.36 crores in 2016).
Consumer demands have also evolved with expectations for low-priced consumer goods, for fresh
and new products and for digital access to products from around the world. This has increased competition
for companies to provide cheap, innovative products that cater to rapidly changing trends; all the more so
as digital technologies allow companies immediate and constant access to information on consumer habits
and interests. A flexible approach to production and cost cutting, including labour costs, has been the
producer response. Low labour costs and flexible commitments to workers allow companies to quickly and
efficiently respond to shifts in consumer needs and in the location of demand. For workers these trends are
aligning to create a world of work where creativity, skills, ingenuity and flexibility are critical. But even for
those who are well positioned to compete in the emerging work system, security is lacking. Around 26
percent of workers worldwide have permanent contracts, around 13 percent have temporary or fixed-term
contracts and 61 percent are working without a contract. With just 30 percent of the world‘s labour force
covered by unemployment protection, a world of work that values flexibility may be a challenge to the
stability of worker‘s lives.
The knowledge-intensive portion of global flows increasingly dominates—and is growing faster
than capital-and labour-intensive flows. Today knowledge-intensive flows account for half of global flows,
and shares are increasing: Knowledge-intensive goods flows are growing at 1.3 times the rate of labourintensive goods flows. As a result, the digital components of goods and services flows have also increased.
Indeed, many goods today, as demonstrated by the ―app economy,‖ are entirely become virtual. Much of
the data pass through the Internet, often on smart phones. Today (as on 2023) there are more than 7.1
billion mobile subscriptions; 6.92 billion people are on smart phones and about 5.18 billion people are
connected to the Internet. Although productivity has grown, the growth rate has not had the exceptional
boost expected with the advent of the digital revolution. This phenomenon has been termed the Solow
Paradox (growth everywhere except in productivity). Several explanations have been provided for this
paradox—the digital revolution has been less fundamental, thus resulting in smaller benefits, which have
been further offset by demographic change and rising inequality; there is a longer lag involved; or the
productivity boost due to the digital revolution will not surface in manufacturing but in services, where
economies of scale can be dramatic. Rising inequality in income shares are seen all over.
The technological revolution has been accompanied by rising inequality. Even people with better
education and training who can work more productively may not receive commensurate rewards in income,
stability or social recognition. Workers overall are getting a smaller share of total corporate income based
on analysis from 27 developed countries and 28 developing countries (HDR 2015). This result is confirmed
by another study, which found that in developed countries the share of corporate income going to wages
declined roughly 8 points between 1980 and 2015. Developing countries have seen a sharp decline since

  1. This decline may be seen as part of the slowdown in growth of average real wages, as the income
    shares of high-skill labour (and of capital) have been going up, while the share of medium- and low-skill
    labour has been going down . The sharp increase in work compensation to top salary earners has
    benefited a minority, whether the top 10 percent, 1 percent or even 0.1 percent. Over time, those at the top
    in advanced economies have enjoyed a larger share of the corporate income distribution. Higher rewards
    for higher skilled workers are contributing to a disproportionate increase in income and wealth for workers
    at the top of the distribution. The world‘s richest 1 percent saw their share of global wealth increase from 44
    percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014, projected to reach more than 50 percent by 2016. Members of these
    global elite had an average wealth of $2.7 million per adult in 2014. Thus, the UNDP report has clearly
    shown that diversity and creativity in the application of technology to work has adversely affected the
    working class and the digital divide has further widened through trade. This calls for an imaginative and
    innovative approach to organise labour and people in the world of work. The world economic crisis has
    implications for work and workers throughout the world.
    Thomas Piketty team‘s World Inequality data base 2022 provides data on global wealth
    inequalities, are found to be even more pronounced than income inequalities. The poorest half of the global
    population barely owns any wealth at all, possessing just 2% of the total. In contrast, the richest 10% of the
    global population own 76% of all wealth. On average, the poorest half of the population owns PPP €2,900
    per adult, i.e. USD 4,100 and the top 10% own €550,900 (or USD771, 300) on average. The bottom 50% of
    the adult population, or the poorest half of the world population, today consists of 2.5 billion individual
    adults. The middle 40% represents the population earning more than the bottom 50% but less than the top
    10%; it is made up of two billion individual adults. The global top 10% represents one tenth of the world
    population, i.e. 517 million individual adults. The global top 1% comprises the richest 51 million individual
    Given the above context of Neo-liberalism at its highest stage, we need to look at the impact of the
    economic structure on specific categories, Caste and Class in India. There is an increasing actualization
    and in formalisation of work. The amount of government jobs has substantially declined from 2 crores in
    1990s to 1.70 crore in 2021 in India. There is an increasing tendency of outsourcing of jobs to private
    contractors even in municipality and government jobs to avoid unionisation and to outwit government norms
    like caste based reservations. It is noticed that the managements and government agencies are
    encouraging multiplication of unions in organised sector to create rifts and divisions among the workers and
    unions. Within organised sector, two kinds of jobs such as regular and contract are in force. There is no
    guarantee for equal pay for equal work as the same job done by a regular worker or employee gets more
    pay than the contract job holder. This is creating animosity among the work force and the trade unions are
    burdened with increasing litigations, rifts and manipulations leaving little time to creatively organise and
    bring all workers united. The New Economic Policy of 1991 as a variant of Neo liberalism has linked India
    with the Capitalist West without surrendering its unique social and cultural base. It has its intricacies
    present in contemporary India. The socially marginalised dalits, service castes and others are thrown in to
    the category of unorganised workforce. The present government has abolished the age old legal
    protections to workers and replaced them with ‗Three Labour Codes‘ reflecting the vision of Neo liberalism
    in action.
    Economic Significance of Caste
    The neoliberal economic policies put into practice by successive governments from 1991 have
    amplified the social and economic inequalities in India through social tensions seen now in the streets.
    India is known for its unique social divisions perpetuated from time immemorial was categorised as Varna
    during Vedic and post -Vedic periods and Jati (by birth) after Upanishad expansion got strengthened
    through Gupta rule and strict implementation of Manudharma and other Dharma sastras. The jati division
    was based on descent and the Portuguese called it as ‗casta‘ or caste during the medieval period. There
    are 9 theories on the origin of caste and around 150 works on caste published by 1959.4 The scholars who
    wrote on Caste and Class include the doyen of Social Anthropology G.S.Ghurye, D.N Majumdar ,
    B.R.Ambedkar, M.N.Srinivas and others apart from the British official surveys and reports. The proliferation
    and mystification of the concept of caste started from the time of Ford Foundation sponsored Village and
    other studies undertaken by Western scholars and some Indian researchers. The scholarship took a
    different turn after the first generation of learners from the socially and educationally marginalised entered
    the debate particularly after Mandal –Kamandal agitations. This has taken a different pathway to provoke
    debates on why Marx failed in India while Kamndal directed a different route of privatisation, globalisation
    and outmigration in a global outreach noted above. The economic policies however, have not provided
    uniform opportunities without discrimination based on social background resulting in the social and
    economic divisions widened beyond the national boundaries. There is unemployment, lack of freedom of
    expression and other undemocratic conditions that prevailed toady made civil society agitated. Naturally,
    social scientists and scholar activists started reflecting on the contemporary impasse both in academics
    and in public domain of socio-economic and cultural life. Caste and religion once again violently surfaced in
    public life. We need to address this here to understand the caste-class conundrum.
    Caste understood by Europeans as a social institution has a long history in India. It was brought by
    aliens or Aryans who were supposed to have originated from the present day Iran. There are several
    articulations about caste by scholars. In one of the earliest submissions about ―was there Caste in Ancient
    Iran‖ Jivanji Jamshedji Modi noted that ‗airyas of Iran divided themselves according to their professions. At
    first, they divided themselves in to three classes and then into four classes. The threefold division was that
    of the Atharvans or priests, the Rathae^shtar or the warriors and the V^astray or the Agriculturists. Then
    latterly, there was the fourth class of Huiti or the citizens.‖5 D.R.Bhandarkar has also expressed similar
    opinion about the ―essential feature of Aryan Brahmanic culture, namely, the Varnashrama-dharma”.
    was mentioned by Hermann Kulke and Dietar Rothermund that Megasthenes had listed ―seven social
    strata that were not listed in any Indian text in this fashion‖.7 Reiterating what the German historians noted
    above, Romila Thapar has explained the creation of castes were based on ritual status.8 The materialist
    interpretation of castes by D.D.Kosambi goes against the self respect of lower castes as he mentioned that,
    ―it can easily be shown that many castes owe their lower social and economic status to their present or
    former refusal to take to food production and plough agriculture‖.
    9 Caste has become an important area of
    study for sociologists and anthropologists and other social scientists except economists who occasionally
    refer to it as a unit of analysis in economic categories .
    Then what is caste? Risley H.H, the British civil servant and the official ethnographer and census
    commissioner of 1901 defined caste as , ―a caste may be defined as a collection of families or groups of
    families bearing a common name, claiming common descent from a mythical ancestor human or divine,
    professing to follow the same hereditary calling and regarded by those who are competent to give an
    opinion as forming a single homogenous community‖10 He has further noted that in ‗ a community where
    accident of birth determines irrecoverably the whole course of a man‘s social and domestic relations and he
    must throughout eat, drink, dress , marry and give in marriage in accordance with the usages of the
    community in to which he was born‘.11 Though Risley‘s Anthropometric methods to measure the indices of
    various races became redundant, his definition of caste appears to be an important contribution and
    scholars like B.R Ambedkar used his data for his studies on caste. Ambedkar‘s Columbia University paper
    on ‗Castes in India‘ noted ‗caste is an enclosed class‘ and is perpetuated due to imposition of endogamy
    and observe the custom of exogamy.12 As a perceptible scholar on castes he however noted in 1948 that ― I
    am not so vain as to claim any finality of my thesis. I do not ask them (readers) to accept it as the last
    13 There are several scholarly studies on castes in India mostly on Scheduled castes, Brahmins in
    the beginning and later on the socially and educationally backward castes. There are several distortions,
    falsifications and perversions in the presentation of social history of India that needs to be addressed to
    understand the reality.
    It is very important to note that the first reference to caste in census in detail appears in the 1891
    census. It is noted by Baines, the census commissioner that, ―a wider view of caste, by which term, it is as
    well to explain, is here meant the perpetuation of status or function, by inheritance and endogamy. For
    caste is a development of the special tendency to which the social atmosphere of India is abnormally
    favourable, and is not, therefore, the peculiar attribute of the Brahmanic form of religion, whatever it may
    be, so much as of the circumstances of which the Brahman had the opportunity of moulding in days long
    gone by. ….The Brahman had already developed into a hierarchy and by their influence over the
    supernatural could easily prevail on the Arya laity to exclude the subject races from participation in what
    seemed to be the peculiar privilege of the superior… The literature of the Brahmanical revival, after the
    downfall of Buddhism, is practically devoted to caste, that is, to the support of the Brahmanic pretensions,
    and on this is based the system that prevails in the present day‖.
    Perhaps it has troubled some scholars
    like Ghurye who was against the use of caste that, ―restriction on the numbers of the able members of the
    Brahmin and allied castes, imposed by this restriction of the government, penalizes some able persons
    simply because they happen to belong to particular castes.‖ 15 The same sentiments were echoed by
    several sociologists later against the Census that has become a narrative to say ‗castes were discovered
    by the Census‘. In fact, Risley as Census Commissioner consulted Mr Dalal and Subrahmania Aiyer on
    caste issues. But, some scholars like Bernard S Cohn, an American Anthropologist have gone to such an
    extent to contend that, ―functioning of the Indian caste system were shaped mainly by the data and
    conceptions growing out of the census operations.” 16 The ensemble of scholars and advocacy
    groups around this theme started pouring articles, books and other publications making the concept of
    caste as a doubtful category making even the NDA government to declare at the Durban World Conference
    against Racism, that there is no caste discrimination in India in 2001. The Hindutva agenda has also
    carried the message in the absence of strong intellectual challenge to the narrative.
    The poverty of intellectual honesty can be noted from the above citations from the British civil servants and
    their aspersions against the Brahmin and Aryan incursions in to India and the social division from the
    second millennium BC down to the present and the reaction of some scholars who are caste blind. It is
    strange that they have not even considered the fact that British India at the time of Census enumeration
    before 1921 included the present Burma, Srilanka, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and there is no dominant
    caste system here that was shaped by the census conceptions as blindly noted by Cohn and others. Caste
    has entered all religions within the boundaries of India and the internal differentiation among Muslims as
    Ashraf, Ajlaf and Azrab made the pasmanda group mostly the erstwhile untouchable converts to demand
    scheduled caste status. The same is the case with dalit Christians. In fact, there are very few studies on the
    diversity of Dalit and OBC castes in different states as castes in one state identified as S.C becomes B.C in
    other states. One can observe the number of castes keeps on rising as one moves from North to South
    and very few tribal groups present in the North including Uttarapradesh. This shows the wide acceptance
    and practice of caste system in India ie Hindusthan and is not so extensive in other SAARC countries with
    different religious backgrounds. In fact, caste is a hegemonic frame work or paradigm that is perennially
    propagated by a permanent group to put in to practice wherever expedient. Now, we have the DNA studies
    of Bamshed, Bhaskararao, Naidu published in ‗Nature‘ and Reich and others later to distinguish different
    caste groups broadly as ANI and ASI debunking some of the prejudiced formulations of a group of
    scholars. (Haplop group Y-DNA R1a1a Eurasia and LM-20 M11 Dravidian).17
    The damage done to the system of social division in the name of caste could be attributed to the
    scholars who did not recognise the economic contribution of lower castes who were in the process of
    production. We will soon discuss below how Marx recognised castes as part of Asiatic Mode of Production.
    The British civil servants have however noted the economic aspects of the social categories particularly in
    the 1891 Census. Baines .J.A as census commissioner estimated that the population of British India was
    28,69,00000 and calculated the proportion of each class of occupational group in to 13 and other eight
    categories as Europeans, Musalmans bearing Foreign titles etc. In his report at page 188 he summarised
    not the social groups but ‗mainly upon function‘ as agricultural and pastoral, professional, artisans and
    village menials that include leather workers, village watchmen, scavengers etc. There are 60 professional
    categories whose occupational category is noted and not their social status. Had the social scientists
    including economists have recognised the economic contribution of these so called social categories in the
    census, the academic depravity of terming Indian castes as census categories would have eschewed.
    The economic value of caste was studied by William H. Wiser an American anthropologist in 1936
    in a village in U.P .
    18 Thomas. O. Beidelman19 has reassessed Wiser after a gap of two decades and found
    a different line of conclusions, but substantiated the economic value of exchange of commodities between
    different castes. Though some economists have tried to estimate the economic discrimination on the basis
    of caste, they have however not measured the economic value of each caste or castes. The general
    equilibrium framework with which economists to measure economic discrimination assumed statistical
    discrimination coined by Kenneth .J.Arrow. The concept has been vehemently opposed by African
    Americans and some sociologists as it is rationalization of stereotyping and does not indicate the economic
    worth of individuals as it prejudges the value as given. ―Theories of discrimination can complicate and
    exacerbate patterns of inequality by shaping how people exposed to those theories think, what they do, and
    what they think they are doing. ―
    20 The studies of Ashwani Deshpande have empirically proved that
    Brahmins are at the top of various human capital measures and have better social and political networks
    than others .21 But some of these studies have limitations of assuming that class and caste go hand in hand
    and fail to address the dynamics of change in a neo-liberal economy or in capitalist mode of production. It is
    through relations of production, an important component of economic structure of society, classes emerge
    with the ownership of means of production.
    Caste Mode of Production and the Nature of Classes
    The discussion on the role of caste in economic transformation of India through globalization with
    caste based crony capitalism made us to assume that a caste like mode of production has been in
    operation in India. The mode of production debate in social sciences is a serious academic exercise
    undertaken by scholars to understand the successive stages of development of particular societies. There
    are several competent Indian scholars of international repute who have participated in this debate and
    enhanced the capacity of the scientific world to understand the unexplored. In this context, the debate on
    the Indian version of development was explained with the introduction of a new MOP as an illuminating
    exercise. The economic structure of the Indian society during the colonial period and the stagnant nature of
    this structure were explained in terms of a ―colonial mode of production‖. The construct was found to be
    essential as the existing analytical tools of feudalism or state mode of production was found to be
    inadequate to explain the Indian situation. In fact, the debate itself has opened new vistas in the area of
    political economy of agriculture in India. However, it was not carried further particularly after the
    globalization theories gained momentum. It is in the tradition of explaining the uncharted area of social
    formation in Indian society, an attempt is made to formulate the caste mode of production as an important
    mode of analytical tool to understand the Indian situation.
    What is mode of production?
    Marx as a philosopher turned economist had been reflecting on the economic and philosophical
    issues and noted that ‗the separation of capital, rent and labour is thus fatal for the worker‘ in 1844 before
    the publication of Communist Manifesto.22
    It was in the 1859 little book , ‗A Contribution to the Critique of
    Political Economy ‗ around 8 years before the publication of Capital in 1867, Marx had succinctly laid ‗the
    guiding principles of (my) studies‖.
    It is here Marx noted that, ―in the social production of their existence,
    men inevitably enter in to definite relations of production, which are independent of their will , namely
    relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of
    production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the
    real foundation, on which arises (corresponds, in some) a legal and political superstructure and to which
    correspond definite forms of social consciousness. …in broad outline the Asiatic, ancient, feudal and
    modern bourgeois modes of production may be designated as epochs.‖
    24 One can notice here that Marx
    had first noted the Asiatic and the other three modes of production thereafter. The same is repeated in
    Capital Vol.I at p 83. It is not just an aberration according to some, but a substantial description as he has
    further elaborated on this while discussing the castes and social division of labour at pages 335 to 339. We
    do not know why some Indian Marxists have ignored this?
    The concept of mode of production is a dialectical method through which the structure of
    institutions and their relationships within a society can be explained in an historical outline. Scholars have
    identified 9 modes of production.25 At the same time, mode of production is a Marxian tool developed by
    Marx himself. The concept has been adopted by both Marxist and non-Marxist scholars for academic
    studies. It consists of 4 important analytical parts. One, in the process of production people use different
    implements and tools such as plough, axe, lathe, labour etc. This is known as means of production. The
    second component is productive forces. No machine or a single factor can produce anything by itself. It
    requires the labour power, skills, experience and knowledge to put the means of production in motion. In
    the process of production, people necessarily enter into certain social relations known as production
    relations. This third component is dictated by the ownership of the means of production. The fourth
    component is analyzed by Jairus Banaji by distinguishing relations of exploitation and relations of

Here, the surplus is appropriated from the laborers in colonial mode not as rent but rent in kind
through extra economic coercion. This relationship is only a relationship of exploitation and it is a very
important component to understand the mode of production. All the above four components are combined
together in explaining a historically determined society. In each of the modes of production, a dominant
class emerges and controls the means of production and operates through an agency. For instance in the
Asiatic mode, state (religion in India) is the dominant category, in slavery slave, land is fundamental for
feudalism as capital is for capitalism.
Though Marx had mentioned about Asiatic, slave, feudal and capitalist modes of production as
successive stages of development of a society, scholars have been unearthing different other modes by
studying different societies with the Marxist mold. The studies of Frank27
, Amin28
, Weiskoff29 and other
third world economists have brought out clearly that the characterization of some of the Latin American
countries as capitalist or pre-capitalist is not a satisfactory explanation. They have significantly contributed
to the Marxist intellectual tradition by introducing dependency theory along with the center-periphery
imagery to explain the specific conditions of their societies. In India, attempts were made by scholars and
activists to manufacture an India that correspond with other European societies in its process of
development by identifying similarities in these societies without recognizing the specificities. In fact Marx
himself was struck by the peculiarities of the Indian society with the limited information available with him
and called it as an Asiatic mode of production. Later, economists and historians realized the distinguishing
features and introduced concepts like colonial mode, Asiatic mode, etc. Even these scholars have not
been able to succeed in capturing the whole process of production in India. They hardly touch upon the
rural India particularly the caste system. Social anthropologists have studied these problems as issues in
village studies without an explanation why do they survive even today? Interestingly, Murzaban Jal in one
of his papers on ―Asiatic Mode of Production, Caste and the Indian Left‖ in Economic and Political weekly
has alleged that, ―the Indian Left of whatever shade (the mainstream communist parties of the Left Front,
the Trotskytes, or the Maoists) have never taken recourse to this idea (AMP) …Revolutionary Marxism is
not reactive like the political practice of our contemporary comrades trained in both brahminical over
lordship and Euro centrism. Brahminical over lordship has strangely seeped in the established left through
the form of ignorance of the caste question… It has ceased to think in terms of concrete analysis of
concrete conditions..After all the answer to Asiatic despotism, high capitalism and late imperialism in
perpetual crisis is not waiting at the door steps of Parliament for the revolution to begin. The time for waiting
may have ended.‖
30 Let us try to formulate the caste related mode of production as part of Asiatic mode.
Features of CMOP
It is necessary to identify the fundamental and differential features of the caste mode of production.
In order to characterize the caste mode of production we need a dominant category to identify the mode
along with the other components. Throughout Indian history, we come across the category of caste as a
dominant player. Marx was curious about the communal system in India and mentioned it in his critique in

  1. It is noted that, ―the communal system on which this mode of production is based prevents the labour
    of an individual from becoming private labour and his product the private product of a separate individual ―
    He has also mentioned that, the conquering nation impose its own mode of production upon the conquered
    people.32 (like Aryans imposing ‗caste‘ on native Indians). It is instructive to note that Marx continued these
    views relating to Indian communal system in Vol. one under chapter I on Commodities. ―The division of
    labour is a necessary condition for the production of commodities, but it doesn‘t follow, conversely that the
    production of commodities is a necessary condition for the division of labour. In the primitive Indian
    community there is social division of labour, without production of commodities. .. but this division is not
    brought about by the operatives mutually.―
    ―And for a society based upon the production of commodities,
    in which the producers in general enter in to social relations with one another by treating their products as
    commodities and values, whereby they reduce their individual labour to the standard of homogenous
    human labour…In the ancient Asiatic and other ancient modes of production , we find that the conversion of
    products in to commodities, and therefore the conversion of men in to producers of commodities, holds
    subordinate place which, however increases in importance as the primitive communities approach nearer
    and nearer to their dissolution.‖ 34 Marx has recognized the economic influence of caste in manufacturing
    sector and recorded its dominance in his main text Capital Vol-I. It is at the stage of explaining division of
    labour and manufacture, Marx has mentioned about the caste system. He said that, ― Hence production
    here is independent of that division of labour brought about, in Indian society as a whole by means of
    exchange of commodities…at the same time , spinning and weaving are carried on in each family as
    subsidiary industries. Side by side with the masses thus occupied with one and the same work, we find the
    ―chief Inhabitant‘‘, who is judge, police and tax gatherer…the Brahmin, who conducts the religious service,
    the school master who on the sand teaches the children reading and writing, the calendar-Brahmin, or
    astrologer…the barber, the washerman…the whole mechanism discloses a systematic division of labour,
    but a division like that in ―manufacture is impossible” (emphasis added). He has further elaborated by
    saying that, ―the law that regulates the division of labour in the community acts with the irresistible authority
    of law of nature at the same time that each individual artificer, the smith, the carpenter and so on conducts
    in his workshop all the operations of his handicrafts in the traditional way but independently and without
    recognizing any authority …. This simplicity supplies the key to the secret of the unchangeableness
    (emphasis added) of Asiatic societies. The structure of the economic elements of society remains
    untouched the storm clouds of the political sky‖35 It can be seen that the fundamental features of a caste
    mode of production is its ‗unchangeable’ feature. It was recorded by Marx himself while explaining the
    division of labour. We can find in the Indian history that the occupational mobility of certain artisan castes
    (some are now considered as other backward castes and others as dalits) and the conditions and life styles
    of the untouchables have remained the same through ages. Ambedkar.B.R recognized this and identified
    the untouchables with slaves and related it with Hinduism. He said that ―most parts of the world have had
    their type of what was called the lowly. The Romans had their slaves, the Spartans their helots, the British
    their Villains, the Americans their Negroes and the Germans their Jews. So the Hindus have their
    untouchables. Slavery, Serfdom, Villianage have all vanished. But, untouchablility still exists and bids to
    last as long as Hinduism will last‖.
    The unchangeableness of the conditions of the dalits (untouchables)
    needs to be sought in the mode of production. However, Ambedkar‘s explanation that castes are stagnant
    classes (barrowing it from Ketkar) or division of laborers do not directly explain the concept. Division of
    labour as elaborated by Adam Smith and explained by Marx is a practice where the process of production
    is divided into different processes, like 18 sequences for pin making, and each process is perfected by one.
    This raises productivity. But in India, each occupation is held by a caste and the finished product is
    produced by the family or caste by following all the processes by caste occupation as noted by him. This
    does not allow any change. Interestingly, this problem has not been considered by Indian scholars for
    further study perhaps that limited our understanding of caste mode of production. Had Ambedkar used the
    economic explanation of its existence such as the mode of production or some other materialist base of
    caste, he would have enhanced our understanding and a solution could have been found. In fact, there are
    hints in his later unpublished writings where he reproduced the 10 tests used by Census of 1911 to mark off
    the untouchables and noted the cleavage between savarnas and avarnas is not uniform. He was drafting a
    diagram to mark the ‗class-caste system‘ that remained unfinished as per the Editorial Board of his
    collected writings.37 ― The diagram shows the different classes of castes one above the other. This is done
    to mark the hierarchy which is an important feature of the caste system. ‗‘I have described the two classes
    of the savarna castes as High Class castes and Low Class Castes. But, I have not described the other two
    Avarna Castes as lower class castes and Lowest Class Castes. In a sense this would have been correct.‖
    The untouchables were not even part of varna system of Manu as they were ‗Varna-Bahyas‘. Unfortunately,
    no serious attempt was made either by academics or by activists to link the Marxian class analysis with
    Indian characters elaborated by Ambedkar to arrive at a scientific approach to encounter the present neoliberalism in India that combines the two philosophies of inequity as doctrine of governance.
    Linking Class and Caste in India
    It appears that some Marxist thinkers in India have tried to address the question of caste within
    Asiatic mode of production though some historians ruled out the possibility. It is interesting to note that
    Marxist historian Irfan Habib has a relook in to this in one of his papers in 2017 and agreed that Marx ‗had
    the model of pre capitalist mode of production that was so different from the European feudal mode‖.
    fact party functionaries like E.M.S Namboodripad, wrote about ―Maveli who once ruled (such) a society, but
    was overthrown by Vamana, is supposed to come back to Kerala to see how his former subjects are living.
    Every family in Kerala is expected to celebrate that day (Onam) with all the pomp and glory which it is
    capable of showing… The point to note here is that the institution of caste in India conceals the essence of
    class division in society. This concealment does, of course, create complications. Furthermore, the
    consciousness of one‘s caste, sub-caste or religious community is still a strong force exercising its
    influence on the functioning of even political parties, with no political party being free to dismiss this
    particular factor in selecting candidates for election.‖39 Ranadive B.T40 , has lamented that Gandhiji has
    ―remained a prisoner of revivalist outlook. As early as 1921 he declared himself to be a Sanatanic Hindu. I
    call myself a Sanatanic Hindu… revivalist outlook… the slow process of industrial development does not
    lead so much to the proletarianisation of the peasantry as to its pauperization. .. Equality of castes was
    preached without its abolition. Both the problems of caste in general and untouchability in particular had to
    be tackled by the national leadership.. .. But the basic structure of land relation, overhauling of which would
    have given a blow to untouchability and caste system, has not been changed.. then why has not the
    majority succeeded in removing the stigma of caste-inequality and defeat the conspiracy of a few Brahmins
    or upper castes? …It is sheer deception to think of abolishing untouchability or caste with the landlords and
    monopolists dominating the economy and bourgeois landlord government in power.‖ Assessing the
    contribution of a JNU scholar Naveen Babu, Ramesh Babu noted that, ―Marx‘s contention of caste as a
    form of division of labor connected with the Asiatic mode of production is supported by the author, just like
    masters and slaves in the slave mode of production, feudal lords and serfs in the feudal mode of production
    and bourgeoisie and proletariat in the capitalist mode of production.‖ 4134
    We can now discuss the incidence of class formation in the capitalist West. The concept of class is
    in vogue in the West ever since it was used by Aristotle as ‗any collection or group that relate to a single
    unit‘ such as six classes or groups of people in Greece. Max Weber42 has made a distinction between class
    structure and status structure, the former indicates the distribution of power, the latter includes privileges in
    terms of education, occupation, birth etc. Sociologists like Talcot Parsons, Davis and Moore43 have
    developed the functional theory of class based on qualities, performances and possessions. The concept of
    class has been used by several scholars and activists without making a distinction between social group or
    and economic status group, while Marxian class is a much wider and dynamic in theory. Marx has not
    defined class in detail. It was Lenin who defined class as “large groups of people differing from each other
    by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most
    cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organization of
    labor, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the
    mode of acquiring it.”41b Another important definition of Marxian Class is given by E.P.Thompson in terms of
    consciousness. He said, ―the class experience is largely determined by the productive relations in to which
    men are born or enter voluntarily.Class consciousness happens when common experience, feel and
    articulate the identity of their interests.‘44
    . There are two important contributions on the nature of class structure within the Marxist concept
    of class. Nicos Poulantzas‘s study on ‗Classes in Contemporary Capitalism‘
    45 and Erik O Wright on ‗Class
    Structure and Income Distribution‘
    46 have thrown new light on the dynamics of classes in contemporary
    capitalism. In fact Marx did not provide adequate theory on classes as he kept the chapter on classes at the
    end of last chapter of Vol. III and has devoted only 39 lines. Therefore, scholars and activists seem to have
    relied mostly on the Communist Manifesto, 1948 and chapter I Bourgeois and Proletariat.47
    It was noted
    that, ― Freeman and slave , patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild master and journey man, in a word
    oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another.‖ This was perhaps interpreted by
    generations of Marxist workers in different parts of the world in relation to their own experience in the
    country. Another problem with original texts of Marx was that he neither defined nor explained capitalism. It
    was only capitalist mode of production as the first sentence in Capital I starts as, ― the wealth of those
    societies in which the ‗capitalist mode of production‘ prevails‖. There was no full-grown capitalism in the
    19th century when Marx was working on his ‗Capital‘, though Great Britain was the host country where the
    first industrial revolution was initiated. It is academically sound to rely on scholars who have extended the
    theory of relations of production to analyze the emergence of classes in contemporary capitalism and
    extend it further to understand Neo-liberalism or Economic Imperialism. Further, the Manifesto was
    addressed to Europe in terms of the first sentence speaking, ‗‘a specter is haunting Europe, the specter of
    Communism.‖ Marx has considered several issues in a dialectical process of developing a comprehensive
    method to address every country in his magnum opus, Capital in three volumes; only first volume was
    published during his lifetime in 1867. In fact, Gramsci 48 while discussing two histories of Italy noted that,
    ―the old feudal classes are demoted from their dominant position to a ‗governing‘ one, but are not
    eliminated, nor is there any attempt to liquidate them as an organic whole; instead of a class they become a
    ‗Caste‖ with specific cultural and psychological characteristics, but no longer with predominant economic
    functions.‖ Enough hints are given here by Gramsci about the nature of caste in India and its typical sociopsychological characters and its relations with class and subaltern group as a spontaneous peripheral
    elements but without any consciousness of ‗class for itself‘. 49
    Poulantzas‘s analysis of classes rests on
    three premises. 1. Classes cannot be defined outside class struggle. Classes are not things, can be
    understood only through class consciousness.2.Classes designate objective positions in the social division
    of labour as the structural determination of class as antagonistic identities. 3. Classes are structurally
    determined not only at the economic level, but at the political and ideological levels as well. They cannot be
    relegated to class-in itself (as economic class) and class for itself (class consciousness), but lie at the very
    determination of class positions. Poulantzas and Wright have designated a new class as emerging in
    modern capitalist production system like white-collar employees, technicians, supervisors, civil servants etc
    and called them ‗new petty bourgeois‘. The new petty bourgeois is defined as having economic ownership
    of the means of production (possession), but having no control over labour power in new capitalism where
    labour power is not directly employed. They occupy not the place of capital, but in the system they mange
    the state functions in the service of capital. Wright has further argued that, it is not wages that define the
    working classes; wages are a form of distribution of the social product, corresponding to market relations
    and forms of contract. This formulation has to a large extent addressed the issues raised by women
    scholars who raised the issue of labour power of women used in social reproduction without any wage
    outside the circuit of commodity production. Tithi Bhattacharya50 an activist scholar wanted a theory of
    praxis with revived understanding of class, rescued from decades of economic reductionism and business
    unionism. The constitutive roles played by race, gender or ethnicities on the working class need to be
    recognized while struggle reanimated with broader visions of class power beyond contract negotiations.
    Kalyan Sanyal51 has stirred a hornet net with his idea of post-colonial capitalism using Foucaldian method
    and other economic parameters to understand the ‗need economy‘ where some people engage in
    economic activities in low petty income earning petty commodity production. They suffer exclusion and
    marginalization. How do we address these issues under caste-class cleavage in Neo -liberalism in India?
    Commodity Fetishism and Social Classes
    Marxian Economics and political economy have been encountering several challenges ever since it
    became a tool of revolt in the hands of the oppressed. Bawm Bawerk ,one of the Austrian scholars of the
    Neo classical group critiqued Marx after the publication of Volume III saying that his theory of value failed to
    explain how values are transform in to prices52.
    However, Bortkiewicz , Hilferding , Morishima and several
    others have disproved Bawm Bawerk with their analytical explanations to establish that Marxian theory of
    value is valid and sustain even under utility theory. In fact, scholars have been writing on the theory of
    value of Marx in the post- Bawm Bawerk era to establish that Marx was not interested in providing a theory
    of value or price in capitalist system, but to prove how labourer is exploited. It is only to elaborate how the
    labourer is exploited and surplus value created, Marx adopted labour theory of value of Adam Smith and
    Ricardo. We can notice this in the ‗Fetishism of Commodities‘ where he explains how commodity at first
    sight is very trivial thing. ―The mystical character of commodities does not originate therefore in their usevalue. …A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of men‘s
    labour appears to them an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour, because the
    relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labour is presented to them as a social relation,
    existing not between themselves , but between the products of their labour….Since the producers do not
    come in to social contact with each other until they exchange their products, the specific social character of
    each producer‘s labour does not show itself except in the act of exchange. ―53
    We notice here that the
    social relations are clouded under exchange due to commodity fetishism. In fact several scholars including
    Diane Elson,54 and E.K.Hunt55 clarified the human nature in the labour theory of value of Marx is not a
    theory of value , but it is the theory of value of labour. David Harvey 56 has also agreed with them in his
    note on Marx‘s Refusal of the labour theory of value. Hunt has further explained that labour theory of value
    is not a theory, it is description of capitalism and continues, ‗Value is for Marx a social relation whereby the
    isolated, concrete , particular labour Value of an individual becomes general, universal , abstract labour
    congealed in a commodity ie only as value.‘ We need to recognize that Marx‘s writings from the time of
    Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts -1844, through Capital and other writings are deep intellectual
    insight to find out the contradiction between human essence( species- being) and existence and restore
    man to himself as social being. In other words it is alienation that reaches the highest stage in capitalism
    where; 1. Alienation of individual takes place from his product 2. From his species-being 3. From His fellow
    men, and 4. From productive activity. Thus, the alienation of one‘s own sociality is the foundation of all
    forms of alienation.
    In order to overcome the fetishism of all kinds, we need to look in to the basis on which Marx developed his
    theories of exploitation, value and replacement of capitalist mode of production with a socialist mode. There
    are several issues that have emerged during the post colonial capitalism particularly after 1990 in India. In
    the post cold war era, some scholars have started theorizing the ‗death of class‘ and the disappearance of
    working class itself in America and European countries.57 But, we may reexamine the class analysis as
    part of relations of production that generates classes and relate it with the value theory of labour, the life
    blood of Capital.
    We reinterpret Marx to suit Indian conditions that he cited in the 19th century and relate it to the
    present situation. There seem to be very little change in the socio-economic status of one third of the
    population of the country during the last several centuries. Dalits, Adivasis , fisher folk and several food
    gatherers who are in some states come under the category of scheduled castes constitute a major chunk of
    our population.58 They have still remained outside the formal economic system as suppliers of abstract
    labour (informal) and earn less than ten per cent of income in 2017 as per ILO India Wage Report 2018. In
    fact, they constitute a huge reserve army of suppliers of abstract labour power. Marx has distinguished
    between Abstract Labour and Concrete labour as noted above. The former consists of the physical muscle
    power, nerves elements etc that are uniform among all laboring class without any distinction that are
    capable of producing use values. It becomes concrete when they are involved in the production of
    commodities and exchange them in the market. On the other hand non-dalits who are in the mainstream
    society are directly involved in commodity production and thus supply both abstract and concrete labour. It
    is noted that wage labour is simultaneously concrete and abstract, private and social because it is hired to
    produce use values for sale There are studies to indicate that scheduled castes are still in the primary
    sector mostly in the Agriculture where they constitute 71 per cent of the labour force. Adivasis are excluded
    and dispossessed along with dalits in the Indian economy. Dispossession is now considered as primitive
    accumulation. Therefore, we can assign the concept of Abstract labour to dalits and adivasis as they
    remain outside the formal system of modern commodity production. (some small change in the post
    independence period does not go beyond 3-5 per cent of the total) Dalits comprise the bulk of the
    population in rural area (12.6 per cent out of 16 percent). Adivasis do also live mostly in tribal areas ( 7 per
    cent out of 8 percent ) . There is another category called the producers of petty commodity production of
    self employed who are mostly come from artisan and service castes. Kalyan Sanyal has mentioned about
    the unpaid family labor of these categories of workers. They belong mostly to the artisan and service
    castesThere is still another category of vast majority of job seekers who roam around the country and
    elsewhere are called as ‗precariat classes‘. Thus, we have a long list of groups of people who are not
    seriously considered in the standard classification of Marxian classes for consideration in class related
    issues. Weberian and Functional concepts of class are stationary in content, do not dwell on the dynamics
    of neo liberal economic expansion. Therefore, it is quite comfortable for an academic to use Marxian class
    for further study and reflection.
    Reimagining Classes Today
    The class formation of a society as noted above depends on the relations of production that is
    prevalent in a given stage of the development of material forces of production. We have historical studies to
    explain how India has gone through different modes of production passing through feudal, pre capitalist and
    capitalist, assuming that all social groups in India are the same. But, we have seen above that India has a
    unique caste system that divides people on the basis of birth assigning some as privileged like dwijas or
    twice born and sudra avarnas who have access to all resources. The avarnas of two categories are those
    who are kept physically outside the system and those who can supply services on demand. The labour of
    these groups is not the same. Some have only abstract labour power but not directly involved in production
    process of all categories to utilize their concrete labour, while some others can supply abstract labour and
    only limited amounts of concrete labour depending upon the ‗need‘. Thus, unlike in the Western societies
    where the working class has slowly disappeared or dead as some call it, India has an abundant supply of
    abstract labour power ready to enter as a working class and supply concrete labour to produce
    commodities for exchange if social restrictions are removed. There is still another category of labour power
    working in the household sector but not given recognition as working class as they don‘t get wages, the
    womenfolk. They need to be articulated by class based activists to bring all these prohibited work force
    (abstract labour) in to consideration to reimagine and design a formula to bring them together under one
    category for proletarianization in the twenty first century India. It will be a huge shift in the class formation
    as analyzed by scholars like O. Wright and help build movements based on the category that is selected for
    class struggles.
    It is strange to find that studies on working class in the Marxist circles in 1942 wrote on land based
    Indian bourgeois, petty bourgeois have remained almost the same groups even after five decades of
    agrarian relations in India summarized by scholars in 1990.The former was a report in the New
    International published from New York on ―The Social Classes in India: A Thesis ―55 and the latter was an
    edited volume of academic studies of three decades relating to agrarian relations debated as mode of
    production in India edited by Utsa Patnaik.59 None of them has referred to the numerical majority of the
    proletariat in India, the lower castes in their theses. Further, Utsa Patnaik assumed that rural labourers are
    free. Perhaps, they never looked at the country side where one can find how dalits and other service castes
    subsist as attached labourers under inamdari and vatan dari workers, bonded labourers etc whose vestiges
    are present even today. (NHRC has reports on bonded labourers). It is not that they have deliberately
    omitted the lower castes; it was at that time and even today a deficit in the theory of class formation in
    India. It means they were by and large consciously or unconsciously restricted the formulation to 10 per
    cent of the avarna castes. Like the 93 percent Labour Theory of value of Ricardo, Marxian Class theory in
    India may be called 10 percent. In fact some of the experts did not realize that there is no possibility for a
    person born in a caste to change in to another caste unlike class that is based on the dynamics of
    economic change. Therefore, classes and Castes stagnate as two compartments for social movements. It
    is necessary to bring them together under the Marxian value theory of labour .
    The caste class link in India need to be reestablished for the benefit of social and political
    movements not on emotional considerations, but purely on economic grounds considering the labour power
    of these groups and how they were utilized in the mainstream economy. No human being survives without
    food and it is to be produced. Dalits or other socially marginalized groups have been involved in the
    process of production not only as food gatherers but even as units of means of production. But, they were
    kept outside the system violently ( the remnants we see today) and those who survived the onslaught have
    remained outside as an independent social group and those who opposed the mainstream within its
    structure have also been thrown into this category. As a result, dalits emerged as a ―residual‖ or as an
    experimental group. The social relations of production between the mainstream and the untouchables
    have been maintained through a typical mode of production, otherwise they would have emerged as
    independent social group as is observed in the case of artisan communities in the mainstream. They are
    deliberately maintained as untouchables. But social interaction for production continued to make use of
    their productive forces. That is why, untouchables have found to be surviving yet without any
    improvements in their living conditions. As the productive forces play a dominant role in the mode of
    production, they are used, yet the developments in the mainstream are restricted through extra economic
    coercion known as the caste restrictions. The productive forces of dalits remained constant as they were
    forbidden to enter the mainstream, enter literate learning and own property (the ownership of agricultural
    land in Punjab was prohibited til 1947.). These three important restrictions made them to stagnate with
    what they originally possessed as an ‗indigenous community‘ .Therefore, we can see in India, the
    development of different modes of production existing side by side without any contradiction, but at the
    same time replacing one after the other without any difficulty. As characterized in the colonial mode of
    production, the economy and the productive forces were drained without affecting the mainstream elite.
    The colonial mode as analysed by scholars did not identify the groups who were responsible in
    collaborating with the British as ‗agents‘ or managing agents. It was the same ‗dvija‘ communities which
    have acted as ―collaborating elite‖ by making use of English education, technology, western culture, etc are
    now turned crony capitalists. At the same time, the artisans, the dalits have been exploited and their
    capacities have been drained. The caste mode of production was sustained with the ‗Jajmani‘ system and
    the unequal exchange between different communities in the village. Most of the social Anthropologists
    have examined the self-sufficient nature of the village. But, the village was never self-sufficient. It was the
    self-sufficient agriculture that was sustained by the dalit labour and the labour of artisan communities in
    providing infrastructure for the self-sufficiency of agriculture. The rent on caste is devised in a meticulous
    way through the restriction of numbers of ‗dvijas‘. In the Hindu social order, there is no possibility of
    entering the ‗dvija hood‘ by others. One may aspire or even use the symbols to call themselves with
    pseudonym called ‗Viswa Brahmin‘, etc. But, it is never accepted. The number of untouchables keeps on
    increasing as it is a residual category and anyone can be thrown into it. This has created surplus people
    and the premium has remained constant under subsistence wage. While the Brahmin for instance kept on
    enjoying a higher premium with all the advantages including their number, they have extracted rents with
    the increase in population and demand for their services. One can see the constant and sometimes ever
    increasing demand for the services of Brahmins in Hindu order. Therefore, the occupation of the Brahman
    remained untouched by others and their mobility is unrestricted due to the premium. The dalits and others
    were pushed into 354 occupations, mostly into lowly paid jobs in the post-independent period. Even today
    the untouchables are not allowed to share (1) crematorium (2) water and (3) shrines indicating the
    continuation of the caste mode of production. The argument that some positions in public sector occupied
    by the dalits through reservation are an indicator of occupational mobility is to be understood as an external
    state policy (political) and not as an autonomous act of the caste mode of production. Further, the number
    of such positions held by the dalits is estimated to be 1.01 per cent of the total dalit population as compared
    to the total control of the means of production and their up gradation with EWS ( for Income Tax paid poor)
    over period of time by the dvija communities. The situation has not changed even after globalization. No
    dalit is benefited by the process of globalization.
    60 For instance, not a single individual from the dalits got a
    rupee as investment from the Rs 37.40 lakh foreign direct investment received by 2022. This is true even in
    the case of artisans from petty commodity production with no wages and self labour contributing to GDP. In
    other words, India has a reserve pool of labour who continue to provide members for the process of
    proletarianization, while in the West, class attrition seem to have begun.
    Neoliberal economic policies in India have been affectively implemented without surrendering our
    social structure based on Caste. It appears to have been viable as we have a huge fund of abstract labour
    of dalits and servile castes that are restricted and selectively used for commodity production, while the
    abstract and concrete labour of others are open to the possibilities of unlimited economic opportunities. It is
    exactly here that scholars should ponder over to reimagine what groups of people constitute working
    classes or the proletariat before most of them is drawn in to the dangerous class of lumpen proletariat. 61
    The sooner we realize the economic implications of caste system in India, the better for the academics to
    pursue imaginative studies and for activists to work on classes that are radical in character.
    End Notes and References
  2. Yujiro Hayami and Yoshihisa Godo, Development Economics, Oxford University Press New Delhi
  3. UNDP, Inaugural Mahabul Ul Haq-Amartya Sen Lecture, UNIGE, UNDP, 2014
  4. UNDP, Human Development Report 2015: Work for Human Development, 2015
  5. Chalam .K.S, Education and Weaker Sections, Inter-India Publications, New Delhi 1987, pp 43-65
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