Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 24 December 2023

How are the four ‘castes’ doing?

(Article written by P. Chidambaram highlighting current status of four castes)

News Excerpt:

Recently the Prime Minister of India made a remark in the wake of the caste census of Bihar, that there are only four castes known to him i.e poor, youth, women and farmers. The article explores the condition of the above groups as how are the four ‘castes’ doing at the current times.

More about news: 

Poverty and Inequality:

  • UNDP estimates 228 million poor in India (16% of the population) based on low poverty thresholds.
  • The bottom 50% of India's population possesses only 3% of the country's assets and earns 13% of its income.
  • High rates of child malnutrition: 32.1% underweight, 19.3% wasted, and 35.5% stunted.
  • More than 50% of women aged 15-49 suffer from anaemia.
  • Government provides free monthly rations to 810 million people (57% of the population) due to widespread hunger and malnutrition.
  • Reports suggest that the 16% poverty estimate is an understatement, indicating deeper issues.

Youth Issues:

  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) (July 2022-June 2023) Half of India's population is under 28 years old.
  • Unemployment rates among individuals aged 15-29: 10.0% (rural 8.3%, urban 13.8%).
  • Alarming unemployment among young graduates: 42.3% for those under 25 and 9.8% among those aged 30-34.
  • High unemployment leads to increased migration, crime, violence, and drug abuse.

Challenges Faced by Women:

  • Women, constituting half of the population, face multiple challenges due to societal norms, limited education, unemployment, gender discrimination, and crimes against them.
  • According to the NCRB report (December 2023),Crimes against women increased by 4% in 2022 compared to 2021, including cruelty by family members, domestic violence, kidnapping, sexual assault, rape, and dowry demands.
  • Gender-based income disparities exist: male workers earn significantly more than women across various job categories, leading to a disparity in workforce participation.
  • Labour Force Participation rate for urban women is 24.0 as against 73.8 per cent for men.  According to the World Bank, 19.6 million women left the workforce between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

Issues in Agriculture and Farmer Distress:

  • NCRB data show that the incidence of farmers’ suicides has remained high in the years between 2014 and 2022. Despite record-breaking wheat and rice production, farmers continue to suffer. High incidents of farmer suicides: 10,600 (2020), 10,881 (2021), and 11,290 (2022) when including agricultural laborers.
  • Factors contributing to farmer distress: small land holdings, rising input costs, inadequate Minimum Support Price (MSP), volatile market prices, biased import-export policies, natural disasters, and insufficient insurance.


The article emphasizes the urgent need for comprehensive and targeted interventions across various sectors, including economic reforms, healthcare, education, employment generation, gender equality, and agricultural policy reforms. Addressing these issues holistically is crucial to uplift marginalized communities, reduce poverty, and promote inclusive growth and development in India.

Mains PYQ

Q. What are the continued challenges for Women in India against time and space? (UPSC 2019)

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