Roadblocks at the High End

Katherine S. Newman and Ashwini Deshpande

in Discrimination in an Unequal World

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732166
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866144 | DOI:
Roadblocks at the High End

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This chapter examines the ways in which caste in India shapes the experience of students in elite universities. It traces the differential pathways that Dalit and non-Dalit students, from comparable, elite educational backgrounds, traverse in their journey from college to work. Students from these two groups bring very different levels of resources — in the form of family connections, financial security during their university years, obligations to support parental households, and the like — to the starting gate. Hence, while the training they receive in the university world and the credentials they can claim when they finish are quite comparable, Dalit students lack many advantages that turn out to be crucial and are subject to skepticism on the part of employers who doubt the legitimacy of reservations (and by extension, the legitimacy of the credentials they present during the job search). Perhaps as a result, Dalit students from comparable degree programs as their high-caste counterparts have lower expectations and see themselves as disadvantaged because of their caste and family backgrounds. Because they arrive in college with weaker skills on average, they are playing catch-up and often do not succeed in pulling even with more advantaged students, and hence enter the job markets with weaker English language and computing skills.

Keywords: India; caste system; social standing; university students; discrimination

Chapter.  12179 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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