Social Scientist. v 11, no. 117 (Feb 1983) p. 31.


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G THIMMA1AH*

Caste and Class in Karnataka

KARNATAKA has experienced in the past 50 years several sociopolitical alignments of its people. In the first phase, which started in the 1920s in the former princely state, non-Brahmins made common cause against Brahmin domination in social, economic and administrative fields. In the second phase, which started in the late 1950s in the reorganised state, a division within the 'dominant' non-Brahmins, namely, between Vokkaligas and Lingayats, occurred. The third phase began with the emergence of Devraj Urs in the early 1970s when he united non-dominant non-Brahmin minority castes in protest against the domination of Vokkaligas and Lingayats. But by 1980 even this experiment failed. Now the socio-political alignment of the people is in a state of flux in the state. At this juncture, it is worth examining the socio-economic division of the people of Karnataka. The purpose of this paper is limited to finding out the association between caste and class in Karnataka.

Karnataka is a middle income state in the Indian Union located in the heart of the Deccan Plateau. It accounts for 5.2 per cent of the total area of the country and 5.3 per cent of the country's population. The state is divided into 19 administrative districts. The per capita income of the state was Rs 1077 in 1974-75 at current prices, which was slightly higher than that of the country as a whole. Nevertheless, an analysis of the situation in Karnataka may be of some use in a broader context as well. The data for the analysis contained in this paper have been gathered through a state-wide sample survey conducted in 1974-75.1

Conceptual Background

The concept of 'class' is prominent in Marxian literature. It was Karl Marx who popularised the terms "capitalist class" and "working class", which refer not merely to the occupational division of the people, but more importantly to their grouping into those who own capital (means of production) and employ it in the process of

^Professor of Economics and Head, Economics Unit, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.



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