Dismal Dalit Count in Indian Boardrooms

Dismal Dalit Count in Indian Boardrooms

Guess what is the total percentage of dalit or tribal members in the boards of big Indian private and public sector companies listed on the stock exchange? Well, shocking as it might be, the real count is nearly zero.

A fresh study conducted by D Ajit, Han Donker and Ravi Saxena reveals that at a time when the issues of ethnic and racial inequalities is being discussed all over the world, our score is as pathetic as can be (see the link below for more info)even though caste-based discriminationis officially illegal in India. The im4change team strongly recommends that all journalists must read this study.It is noteworthy that the study covers both private and public sector firms that are publicly listed.

Carried in the prestigious Economic and Political Weekly, the study is an examination of the caste diversity of Indian corporate boards of a thousand top Indian companies listed in the top stock indices in India for the year 2010. These companies account for four-fifth of the market capitalisation of all listed companies measured by Blau Index. The big finding of the study is that there is no diversity in Indian boardrooms at all and the entire private sector is monopolised by a handful of upper castes. (The Blau Index is a diversity Index extensively used in social sciences which measures the probability of social mobility of individuals chosen from different backgrounds. The study titled "Corporate Boards in India: Blocked by Caste?" uses the median score on the basis of the Blau Index)

The study says that "Indian corporate boards continue to remain ‘old boys clubs' based on caste affiliation rather than on other considerations (like merit or experience)." According to the authors, "the study is a preliminary attempt to understand the influence of castein determining corporate control in India. In the process, it indirectly evaluates the progress made by 60 years of affirmative actionin promoting educational, job and social mobility in the Indian society."

The authors painstakingly identified all given surnames of board membersthrough social networks. It reveals that about 93 per cent board members belonged to the forward castes. Among the most important questions the study raises is whether the auditors to these companies are also selected on the basis of the same caste affiliations which workfor the appointment of board members. Another important question is whether the companies' boards need to reflect the diversity of their clientele? How many women are present in these boards is anybody's guess.


Corporate Boards in India: Blocked by Caste? -D Ajit, Han Donker and Ravi Saxena, Economic & Political Weekly, August 11, 2012, Vol xlvii, No. 31

Missing from the Indian newsroom by Robin Jefrey, The Hindu, 9 April, 2012, http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/missing-from-the-indi

Akerlof, A G (1976): "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales", Quarterly, Journal of Economics, 90: 599-617, http://www.unc.edu/~shanda/courses/plcy289/Akerlof_Rat_Race.pdf

Balasubramaniam, J (2011): "Dalits and a Lack of Diversity in the Newsroom", Economic and Political Weekly, March 12, 2011, Vol xlvi, No 11, http://api.ning.com/files/UdErTnmXwtRfZ1gMfnMZozxYRuDavim2

Beteille, A (2012): "The Peculiar Tenacity of Caste", Economic & Political Weekly, 44, 41-48,

Desai, S (2010): "Caste and Census: A Forward Looking Strategy", Economic & Political Weekly, 42: 10-13

Jodhka, S (2010): "Dalits in Business: Self-Employed Scheduled Castes inNorth-West India", Working Paper Series, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi, http://www.dalitstudies.org.in/wp/1002.pdf

Majumder, Rajarshi (2010): Intergenerational mobility in educational & occupational attainment: a comparative study of social classes in India, Margin , Vol. 4, No. 4 (November), http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/40939/1/MPRA_paper_40939.pdf

Thorat, S and K S Newman (2007): "Caste and Economic Discrimination: Causes, Consequences an
d Remedies
", Economic & Political Weekly, 39: 4121-24

Thorat, S and N Sadana (2009): "Caste and Ownership of Private Enterprises", Economic & Political Weekly, 41: 13-16

Caste can turn a boardroom into a classroom-Aakar Patel, Live Mint, 4 September, 2012

Bite The Caste Bullet-Naren Karunakaran, Outlook, 2 May, 2009

Image courtesy: The Hindu, click here 

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