Corporate Boards in India Blocked by Caste? – #mustread


The latest EPW (August 11, 2012) reports a first-of-its-kind study at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, on the caste composition of the boards of the top 1,000 Indian companies (“Corporate Boards in India:Blocked By Caste?”, by D.Ajit, H.Donker, R. Saxena).

Analyzed are the largest 1000 Indian companies in terms of size (total assets in 2010) that account for four-fifths of the market capitalisation of companies listed in National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Bombay StockExchange (BSE).

The study finds that “nearly 93% of board members [of the 1000 top Indian companies] were forward caste members — 46% vaishya and 44% brahmin. OBCs and SCs/STs were a meagre 3.8% and 3.5% respectively.”

The study shows that “caste diversity is non-existent in the Indian corporate sector.” Nearly 65% of the Indian corporate boards, individually,are composed of just one single caste group among the forward caste groups indicating that it is a small and closed world.

The study concludes that “In the (Indian) corporate world, social networking plays an important role.Indian corporate boards belong to the ³old boys¹ club² based on caste affiliation rather than on other considerations (like merit or experience).”

The study says, “Caste is an important factor in networking. The small world of corporate India has interaction only within their caste kinship.This raises important questions about the possibility of interlocking of directors within the same caste among Indian companies. Is this small world of corporate directorships reflected in the selection of auditors as well?These are some of the important questions which are in the ambit of our future investigation.”
The article concludes, the “Indian corporate board consists of a small world dominated by forward castes and lacks diversity.”


Read the full study here

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. videh kumar
    Aug 13, 2012 @ 14:28:42

    The Govt is made of people having serious caste prejudices and biase against SCs and STs. Govt plays to the gallery while enacting the laws benefiting the SCs & STs. Our executives including the concerned minister do not want the same decision / acts to be complied with. Not a single person has been punished for his actions not complying with the relevant Acts making provisions to help the poor SCs & STs. Our judiciary who behave such a holy cow is so in-efficient that nothing moves here. They allow in connivance with the lawyers to delay the cases thus not only wasting time, energy and money of every one but also making the judicial process totally out of sync and make the whole process of judiciary intervention irrelevant. Th departments like CVC, in house Vigilance department, all do their bit to ensure that officers from SCs and STs are kept engaged in all sort of cases and they also ensure that their cases are kept hanging for decades only to ensure that their cases for promotions are not even considered. Net result is that even when elaborate inquiry process find no reason to punish them and acquit them of the charges, the management does not allow them to get promotions from back date. In this process punishment to innocent SCs and STs is ensured. Their promotions are denied for long long time. This way SCs and STs are not finding themselves even in the zone of consideration. Unfortunately, demand of these affected SCs & STs on the lines of verdicts delivered by even Supreme Court in similar cases are are successfully allowed to be contested. The reservations in higher judiciary is not allowed on flimsy ground and if that is allowed then SCs / STs judges may perhaps be able to deliver decisions faster on such issues. If all such issues having interest of SCs and STs are put on fast track and hearing is on daily basis then the judicial intervention may yield some positive results.


  2. Binoy Shanker Prasad
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 09:26:34

    If any scholar wants to investigate the Indian social reality, caste has to be the first point of reference. For years the Marxists and modernists were obsessed with the class or other considerations almost ridiculing the caste angle. Now, the reality seems to have hit hard.


  3. C.Moses
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 11:46:53

    Still the lot of denying for SC/ST to coming upward in the society.We advise the SC/ST people to see the Japanese they were destroyed by US in the second world war but they worked hard and come back.They are challenging and guiding the US in many field.
    Like that SC/ST people must encourage their children to work hard and learn the dual activities of other caste people following for their development.
    We need medicine and patience for curing of prolonged disease,like that in our country the people from weaker section need lot of power and positive ideology to come up in their field and area.Encourage the children to identified the ways to come up and never educate your children one group or caste is higher than you. Like that we advise the SC/ST people move forward in your field though you have hurdles and blocks from other caste people. In India Good old people germinated from caste culture now our Indian culture is changing.Hope that this problem will be diminished later.
    At present children are germinating new development culture.So this problem will solved only appointing second generation youth.

    Existing corporate companies are leading by one particular group of people.but we encourage SC/ST people to identify the way to get the members in new companies in near future.


  4. Harman
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 21:02:48

    I wish to create a startup helping the cause of Diversity on Boards.
    Would any1 be willing to help me with the current process of Board recruitment ??
    Reach me on harmandeep.d (at) gmail (dot) com


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