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25 May, 2007

Merit in IT sector

Carol Upadhya, Fellow, School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science campus, Bangalore, in an article published in the Economic and Political Weekly, presents data from a study of the Information Technology workforce in Bangalore, draws on other sources and discusses the ideology of merit that dominates the IT sector. Says the writer:

The limited data available from our own and other studies suggest that the IT workforce is much more socially homogeneous than is often claimed by many industry leaders, in terms of class (middle class), caste (upper and middle caste), and regional (urban) background. With regard to caste and community, 88 per cent of respondents in our survey were found to be Hindus while only 5 per cent were Christians and 2 per cent Muslims. Brahmins constituted 48 per cent of our sample. The predominance of Brahmins is not surprising, given their historical monopoly over higher education and formal sector employment, especially in south India. If we include others belonging to “twice-born” castes, the figure for all upper castes comes to 71 per cent. Employees from dominant agricultural castes [including some which are classified as other backward classes (OBCs)] constituted 15 per cent, bringing the proportion of respondents who come from upper or dominant caste groups to 86 per cent. If we further include some of the Christian respondents, such as Syrian Christians (a relatively wealthy landowning
community in Kerala), the proportion is even greater. Only one respondent said that he belonged to a scheduled community.

The article appears in May 19, 2007 issue of EPW.

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