Inter-caste marriage in India: has it really changed over time?

Kumudini Das, Pillai's College of Arts, Commerce and Science, Navi Mumbai
Kailash Chandra Das, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Tarun Kumar Roy, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Pradeep Kumar Tripathy, Utkal University

Caste is an integral component of Indian society prevalent for thousands of years. It is an social evil that creates water tight compartment between communities and brings division, hatred and tension among various social groups. Marriages within the caste is the norm of the Indian society. To think of marriages between castes is a difficult and socially unacceptable proposition. The process of modernization, democratization and development has brought lots of positive changes in Indian society. The major objectives of the present study is to understand the patterns and factors of inter-caste marriages in India. The study uses the data of recently concluded nationally representative National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3, 2005-06) having sample size of 43102 ever married women and their husbands. All the castes are grouped into four categories and arranged in descending order of caste hierarchy namely Others (includes all the higher castes), Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). If a woman belonging to higher caste marries to a man belonging to lower caste, then it is considered as an inter-caste marriage. Similarly if a woman belonging to a lower caste marries to a man of higher caste, then also it is considered as inter-caste marriage. It is found that about 11 percent of the total marriages in India take place between castes (inter-caste) which is quite encouraging and a positive sign of change in the society. Of the total inter-caste marriages, in 5.6 percent cases women marry to men belonging to lower castes than the women. In case of another 5.4 percent cases, the women belong to lower caste but husbands belong to higher castes. There is large spatial variation across the various states in the pattern of inter-caste marriages in India.

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Presented in Session 24: Social and ethnic intermarriage