Article

The Gender oF Caste: Identity, Political Reservations and Access to Water Resources in Rural India

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Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the impacts of a centuries-old social institution, the caste system, (directly) on households'access to water resources and (indirectly) on female time allocation in India. The idea behind this study is quite intuitive, yet this remains an almost entirely unexplored topic: water is believed to be an agent that spreads pollution upon contact with a person who herself is in a state of pollution. Therefore, in many regions of India, the upper caste households insist on maintaining distinct water sources from the lower caste (i.e. untouchable) households in their villages. Data shows that over 69% of rural Indian households have to collect water for drinking purposes, and those fetching water are predominantly women. Thus, caste discrimination in the access to water resources creates an unequal burden for women and have important intra-household implications. My empirical …ndings support this hypothesis: the total time low caste women spend to collect water is signi…cantly higher when they reside in a village dominated by lower castes (in terms of population shares), compared to a village dominated by upper castes. This is due to the congestion of the wells that low-caste members can access, and the results hold true even after controlling for village-level …xed e¤ects. I also document the e¤ect of the reservation of leadership positions in the village administrative bodies, i.e. Panchayati Raj, for low castes members: indeed, low caste members are more inclined to invest in water infrastructure in the low caste hamlets, which decreases the time spent at the water source by low caste women. This positive impact tends to be relatively higher in villages where low caste households represent a majority of the population. The analysis also shows that reservations for women in village leadership positions do not have a signi…cant impact on low caste women's access to water resources. Date: October 10, 2010.

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... Efforts to measure inequities in access to health (Acharaya, 2010;Boorah, 2010), education (Desai et al., 2008;Nambissan, 2009) and W&S (Johns, 2012;Keskin, 2010;Prakash and Singh, 2012) suggest caste-based discrimination is embedded in systemic features of service provision and practised by service providers as well as between recipients. In South Asia, people belonging to the lowest caste groups have largely provided sanitation services such as street and sewage cleaning. ...
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Homo hierarchicus: the caste system and its implicationsWhen Formal Institutions Are Not Enough: Caste, Party Politics, and Distribution in Indian Village Councils
  • L Dumont
  • T Dunning
  • J Nilekani
Dumont, L. (1980): Homo hierarchicus: the caste system and its implications. University Of Chicago Press. rTHE GENDER OF CASTE19 Dunning, T., and J. Nilekani (2009): “When Formal Institutions Are Not Enough: Caste, Party Politics, and Distribution in Indian Village Councils,” Manuscript, Department of Political Science, Yale University
Demographics and the Effects of Reservation # of Newly Repaired Sources in SC
  • Pinar Keskin Table
PINAR KESKIN Table 8: Demographics and the Effects of Reservation # of Newly Repaired Sources in SC/ST Hamlet Reserved (SC/ST)
When Formal Institutions Are Not Enough: Caste, Party Politics, and Distribution in Indian Village Councils
  • T Dunning
  • J Nilekani
Dunning, T., and J. Nilekani (2009): " When Formal Institutions Are Not Enough: Caste, Party Politics, and Distribution in Indian Village Councils, " Manuscript, Department of Political Science, Yale University.