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How India's Caste System Limits Diversity in Science

By Nature

January 12, 2023

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Mirroring India's caste system of social hierarchy, the most privileged castes dominated white-collar professions, including roles in science and technology.

The Indian government established a 7.5% quota for Adivasis and a 15% quota for another marginalized group, the Dalits (formerly known by the dehumanizing term "untouchables"), in academia. Universities in India are failing to meet these quotas. 

The historically privileged castes still dominate many of India's elite research institutions. Above the level of Ph.D. students, the representation of Adivasis and Dalits falls off a cliff. Less than 1% of professors come from these communities at top-ranked institutes.

The situation highlights how India's caste system limits scientific opportunities for certain groups in a nation striving to become a global research leader.

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