Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2014
Since the early days of independence, much transformation has taken place in the condition of the depressed classes, untouchables, harijans, scheduled castes, backwards, and Dalits. Use whatever euphemism to identify the lower segments of caste in India, the spread of education, opportunities for political participation and the possibility of having a government job ensured that there was a significant transformation in achieving growth in educational attainments, economic benefits, and political power. Opportunities of higher education, important for upward mobility and consequent growth in Indian society, and which, until then were only by chance available only to a handful of people like Baba Saheb Ambedkar, V. R. Shinde and Babu Jagjivan Ram in the pre-independence period, were now available to much larger numbers even though not in as much quantity as one would like, nor as easily (Drèze and Sen 1995, Prasad 2006). As the opportunities for education grew so did the total number of people who managed to make use of these, irrespective of which social group or class they belong to. As the size of government grew so did the total number of people who found employment in government through reservations. The provision of reserved seats in the elected bodies and the logic of democratic politics ensured that there always was a significant formal representation of scheduled caste members in all the elected bodies and the votes of the members of the general body remained worthy of wooing by all political parties, across the entire country (Kothari 1967).