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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Caste composition of India: Percentage of different groups including Upper Castes, SCs & STs in the country

What's the caste composition of India? The recent controversy over reservation has once again opened the lid off India's caste cauldron.

So, what is the percent of OBCs (Other Backward Castes) in India's population. The figures range from 28% to as high as 38%.

In fact, it is also possible that the OBCs could number around 40% of Indian population. In some regions, the backward castes are landed communities and influential but have little presence in government jobs.

Caste-wise population and their percentage in India

As per ancient system, except Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, all the others are Shudras [almost 90% of India's population]. The Shudras include all OBCs, Dalit [SC], Scheduled Tribes and intermediary castes. In the pie chart, Upper Castes includes Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya etc.

The non-Hindu OBCs include Muslims. The intermediary includes Hindu castes of Jat, Reddy, Patel and Maratha (as per their status in various areas). The Upper Muslims are non-OBC and non-ST while the rest include upper Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and rests.

Is this distribution or caste composition correct? I don't know, frankly.

The 14% Muslims are thus divided as per their castes in this chart.

So are the OBCs most numerous in India? I was recently reading an article published in a weekly paper about the by-poll in an assembly constituency.

It was stunning to see the detail of caste configuration to which they had calculated, in order to understand ground realities as how caste cohesiveness works in elections.

They had mentioned each and every group that even constituted over 1% of the population. There were castes like Dangi, Kiraar, Lodhi and what not! Many of them form large population in a constituency, even 15-20%, but groups that represent just 1-5% have the numerical strength in legislature and executive.

The reason is that historically the groups that are disadvantaged, find it enormously tough to go ahead of Brahmins, Banias, Thakurs and the elite among Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or Jains. One wonders how much fragmentisation we will witness in the years to come.


Percent wise Brahmins are more in percentage terms in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. However, in UP, they form less than 8% of state's population. The Bania are even less, not even 3% in India.

Similarly, Thakurs are not too large a community but have traditional power due to their financial resources, land and clanship, they are visible and wield influence. They are barely 3% overall in India's vast population.


The Kayasthas, who are considered Upper Caste, due to their disproportionately high strength in educational institutes and bureaucracy are not even 1% in states like UP and  Bihar, which t hey chiefly inhabit. In Southern states, situation is different.

Dominant castes in AP, Karnataka, UP-Rajasthan

Reddys are considered Upper Caste, as they are moneyed and privileged. They are over-represented in jobs and Assemblies. In Karnataka, Backward Castes like Lingayat and Vokkaliga dominate, just like Gujjars and Meenas are strong OBCs in UP-Rajasthan regions.

Meenas have got ST status in some regions. The situation in Tamil Nadu is entirely different. Due to strong Dravidian movement against caste, condition of backwards and Dalits improved. Yet Bramins have more influence than their real numbers. 


How do we know said...

wow! where did u get these figures? And about fragmentation.. they can only divide those who want to be divided..

Jayashree Patil said...

Hallo,Will get surprise to see Hindu girl in the Blog but u must know the Todays Generation is all against the stupid things of Religion etc. We all beleive to be Indian.anyway
I really like this article. Its really with a great thought. Thanks for releaving such issue with deep study and thinking. Keep it up.

indscribe said...

Why should I get surprised Jayashree? Most of my friends are Hindu, almost all of them. So you are welcome and keep coming to the blog.

Rony said...

Jayashree, do you really mean that today's generation is against caste systems? Well, I think they care a damn about caste, but they dont understand when they get exploited. For example, we are all a great fan of cricket. Some really worship the cricketers thinking that they are some real talented Gods. But is it mere co-incidence that all of Indian cricketers are Brahmins? Is it a mere co-incidence that minority classes do not really make it big in the Indian Cricket team. Even if they make it big there position comes under threat at the minute chance(like Zaheer Khan,Harbhajan etc.). I recently read an article about this. A real interesting one If any of you want I suggest you visit this website and leave your comments there bcoz the writer seems to have great faith on the members of the webcommunity. Here is the link:

Diganta said...

Do you know that there were no caste based census in India after 1931? So, whatever you publish here, is not scientific data. There are several resources publishing contradictory results.

indscribe said...

Diganta bhai, I got it from somewhere and in a country like India it is difficult for caste data to be accurate. These days Chauhans are Dalits! Malviyas are OBCs and etc etc A Muslim may be counted in UC, backward, dalit or even Tribal in a some areas. So it is all a foolish thing, the fragmentation that is what I mean. The more we try to increase and inflate our share, the more we become even vulnerable.

Diganta said...

Correct you are :). That's why I support economy based reservation.

ravi said...

Indian government is increasing the castism for their votes. . Why they do not make equal and give equal values to each cast. Why is this reservation policy in india although at the time of independence it is started only for 10-15 years

jinny said...

Indias real equation is" jiski laathi uski bhais"