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How India’s caste system limits diversity in science — in six charts

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Samadhan is an outlier in his home village in western India. Last year, he became the first person from there to start a science Ph.D. Samadhan, a student in Maharashtra state, is an Adivasi or indigenous person — a member of one of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India.

For that reason, he doesn’t want to publicize his last name or institution, partly because he fears that doing so would bring his social status to the attention of a wider group of Indian scientists. “They’d know that I am from a lower category and will think that I have progressed because of [the] quota,” he says.

The quota Samadhan refers to is also known as a reservation policy: a form of affirmative action that was written into India’s constitution in 1950. Reservation policies aimed to uplift marginalized communities by allocating quotas for them in public-sector jobs and in education. Mirroring India’s caste system of social hierarchy, the most privileged castes dominated white-collar professions, including roles in science and technology. After many years, the Indian government settled on a 7.5% quota for Adivasis (referred to as ‘Scheduled Tribes’ in official records) and a 15% quota for another marginalized group, the Dalits (referred to in government records as ‘Scheduled Castes’, and formerly known by the dehumanizing term ‘untouchables’). These quotas — which apply to almost all Indian research institutes — roughly correspond to these communities’ representation in the population, according to the most recent census of 2011.

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Illustration by Polygon8

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.nature.com/immersive/d41586-023-00015-2/index.html?utm_source=pocket_discover_science

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