Number theory: A caste-wise analysis of all chief ministers in India | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Number theory: A caste-wise analysis of all chief ministers in India

Aug 17, 2023 07:11 PM IST

A look at the overall, intertemporal and state-wise caste breakup of chief ministers.

Caste is a driving factor in Indian politics. While Indian politics has definitely become more socially egalitarian in the post-Independence period, it continues to play a crucial role in electoral arithmetic. The question to ask then is: Have politicians from deprived castes been more successful in getting themselves to leadership positions?

Caste plays a crucial role in India's electoral arithmetic. PREMIUM
Caste plays a crucial role in India's electoral arithmetic.

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One way to answer this is by analysing the caste composition of the top executive post (prime minister and chief minister). When it comes to prime ministers, only two of them, HD Deve Gowda and Narendra Modi, are from the other backward classes (OBCs). No member from the Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities has ever been prime minister.

What about leadership at the level of states? HT has built a caste-wise database of chief ministers from 21 major states from 1952-2023 to answer this question. A caveat may be in order here. Castes are incredibly complex in India. A sub-sect of a caste may be considered a so-called upper caste while the caste itself is considered an OBC. An OBC in one state may not be an OBC in another. While HT’s data team has vetted its database, and our regional bureaus have carried out their own due diligence, it is possible that the classifications of a few are erroneous. That does not change the findings, though (and in the interests of making sure the database improves on account of the wisdom of crowds, it will be made public after this two-part series runs).

There were 20 states and the Union territory of Delhi included in this analysis. Manipur, Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Goa and the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir are excluded. The database has 471 chief ministers. People who have become chief ministers more than once are counted multiple times in the database. Social profile is based on the listings of castes in the OBC/SC/ST lists of the states.

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This two-part data journalism series will present summary findings from this database. It looks at overall, intertemporal and state-wise caste breakup of chief ministers.

This is the first of a two-part series based on HT’s own caste database of chief ministers in India. The second part will look at the questions of party-wise social background, subcastes and dynasties.

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