Caste identity is a critical factor in the development paradigm in our country. Recently, we have seen a surge in representational politics, where NDA has nominated Droupadi Murmu, from the scheduled tribe, as their candidate for Presidential elections in 2022. Murmu’s candidature has symbolic relevance as she would be the first Adivasi woman to make it to the Presidential post. Is this a mere gesture or would it have greater socio – political reverberations for the Adivasi? Representational politics marks inclusivity but may not be enough to ensure development of the Adivasi community as a whole.
The Adivasi society, primarily governed by kinship bonds is considered non – hierarchical, when compared to the highly differentiated caste system. Purity and pollution, both exist between the Munda community and the ‘regional’ service castes in Jharkhand. There are historical and socio-political roots of differences in living standards, practices of commensality and effects of administrative changes on STs and SCs in the region. Most service castes are SCs except Lohra, of ST category in Jharkhand.