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Social Sciences

The membership of political association was largely confined to ....... IndianUpper casteUrbanEducatedLow caste

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Castes in Indian society refer to a social group where membership is decided by birth. Members of such local groups are endogamous, i.e. they tend to enter into marital relationships among themselves. They often have related political preferences.

For political/government purposes, the castes are broadly divided into

Forward Castes (30.80% of the population)

Other Backward Classes (OBC) (about 41.0% of the population)

Scheduled Castes (about 19.7% of the population)

Scheduled Tribe (about 8.5% of the population)

The Indian Muslims (14.2%), and Christians (2.3%) often function as castes.

Official lists are compiled by states recognizing the OBC, Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribe. The dividing lines can be ambiguous, several castes have demanded a lower rank so that they can avail the privileges offered. The term Upper caste also refers to Forward castes, when news reports refer to the Scheduled castes in relation to the two upper groups.

The removal of the boundaries between "civil society" and "political society" meant that caste now played a huge role in the political arena and also influenced other government-run institutions such as police and the judicial system. Though caste seemed to dictate one's access to such institutions, the location of that caste also played a pivotal role. If a lower caste were concentrated enough in one area, it could then translate that pocket of concentration of its caste members into political power and then challenge the hegemony of locally dominant upper caste. Gender also plays a significant role in the power dynamic of caste in politics. Women's representation within the political system seems to also be tied to their caste. Lower, more conservative castes have less female participation in politics than upper, more socially liberal, castes. This has caused a disproportionately large number of upper-caste women to occupy political office when compared to their lower caste counterparts. The hierarchy of caste and its role in politics and access to power and resources has created a society of patron-client relationships along caste lines. This eventually led to the practice of vote banking, where voters back only candidates that are in their caste,[9] or officials from which they expect to receive some kind of benefits.

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