Scheduled castes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census.[1] Punjab had the highest percentage of its population as SC (~32%), while India's island territories and three northeastern states had 0%.[1]
Scheduled castes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census.[1] Punjab had the highest percentage of its population as SC (~32%), while India's island territories and three northeastern states had 0%.[1]
Scheduled Tribes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census.[1] Mizoram and Lakshadweep had the highest percentage of its population as ST (~95%), while Punjab and Haryana had 0%.[1]
Scheduled Tribes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census.[1] Mizoram and Lakshadweep had the highest percentage of its population as ST (~95%), while Punjab and Haryana had 0%.[1]

The Scheduled Castes[2] (SCs) and Scheduled Indian Tribes (SITs) are officially designated groups of people and among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India.[3] The terms are recognized in the Constitution of India and the groups are designated in one or other of the categories.[4]: 3  For much of the period of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, they were known as the Depressed Classes.[4]: 2 

In modern literature, the Scheduled Castes are sometimes referred to as Dalit, meaning "broken" or "dispersed",[5][6] having been popularised by B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), a Dalit himself, an economist, reformer, chairman of the Constituent Assembly of India, and Dalit leader during the independence struggle.[5] Ambedkar preferred the term Dalit to Gandhi's term, Harijan, meaning "person of Hari/Vishnu" (or Man of God).[5] In September 2018, the government "issued an advisory to all private satellite channels asking them to 'refrain' from using the nomenclature 'Dalit'", though "rights groups and intellectuals have come out against any shift from 'Dalit' in popular usage".[7]

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes comprise about 16.6% and 8.6%, respectively, of India's population (according to the 2011 census).[8][9] The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 lists 1,108 castes across 28 states in its First Schedule,[10] and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 lists 744 tribes across 22 states in its First Schedule.[11]

Since the independence of India, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were given Reservation status, guaranteeing political representation, preference in promotion, quota in universities, free and stipended education, scholarships, banking services, various government schemes and the Constitution lays down the general principles of positive discrimination for SCs and STs.[12][13]: 35, 137 


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2022)
Scheduled Tribes

As per Article 366 (25) of Constitution of India the Scheduled Tribe is defined as;[14]

“Such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the Scheduled Tribes (STs) for the purposes of this [Indian] Constitution”


The evolution of Lower caste to modern-day Scheduled Castes is complex. The caste system as a stratification of classes in India originated about 2,000 years ago, and has been influenced by dynasties and ruling elites, including the Mughal Empire and the British Raj.[15][16] The Hindu concept of Varna historically incorporated occupation-based communities.[15] Some low-caste groups, such as those formerly called untouchables[17] who constitute modern-day Scheduled Castes, were considered outside the Varna system.[18][19]

Since the 1850s, these communities were loosely referred to as Depressed Classes, with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.The early 20th century saw a flurry of activity in the British authorities assessing the feasibility of responsible self-government for India. The Morley–Minto Reforms Report, Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms Report and the Simon Commission were several initiatives in this context. A highly contested issue in the proposed reforms was the reservation of seats for representation of the Depressed Classes in provincial and central legislatures.[20]

In 1935, the UK Parliament passed the Government of India Act 1935, designed to give Indian provinces greater self-rule and set up a national federal structure. The reservation of seats for the Depressed Classes was incorporated into the act, which came into force in 1937. The Act introduced the term "Scheduled Castes", defining the group as "such castes, parts of groups within castes, which appear to His Majesty in Council to correspond to the classes of persons formerly known as the 'Depressed Classes', as His Majesty in Council may prefer".[4] This discretionary definition was clarified in The Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936, which contained a list (or Schedule) of castes throughout the British-administered provinces.[4]

After independence the Constituent Assembly continued the prevailing definition of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, giving (via articles 341 and 342) the president of India and governors of the states a mandate to compile a full listing of castes and tribes (with the power to edit it later, as required). The complete list of castes and tribes was made via two orders: The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950[21] and The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950,[22] respectively. Furthermore, independent India's quest for inclusivity was incident through the appointment of B. R. Ambedkar as the chair of the drafting committee for the Constitution. Ambedkar was a scheduled caste constitutional lawyer, a member of the low caste.[23]

Government initiative to improve the situation of SCs and STs

The Constitution provides a three-pronged strategy[24] to improve the situation of SCs and STs:

National commissions

To effectively implement the safeguards built into the Constitution and other legislation, the Constitution under Articles 338 and 338A provides for two constitutional commissions: the National Commission for Scheduled Castes,[28] and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.[29] The chairpersons of both commissions sit ex officio on the National Human Rights Commission.Scheduled Castes in India.

Constitutional history

In the original Constitution, Article 338 provided for a special officer (the Commissioner for SCs and STs) responsible for monitoring the implementation of constitutional and legislative safeguards for SCs and STs and reporting to the president. Seventeen regional offices of the Commissioner were established throughout the country.

There was an initiative to replace the Commissioner with a committee in the 48th Amendment to the Constitution, changing Article 338. While the amendment was being debated, the Ministry of Welfare established the first committee for SCs and STs (with the functions of the Commissioner) in August 1978. These functions were modified in September 1987 to include advising the government on broad policy issues and the development levels of SCs and STs. Now it is included in Article 342.

In 1990, Article 338 was amended for the National Commission for SCs and STs with the Constitution (Sixty fifth Amendment) Bill, 1990.[30] The first commission under the 65th Amendment was constituted in March 1992, replacing the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the commission established by the Ministry of Welfare's Resolution of 1989. In 2003, the Constitution was again amended to divide the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes into two commissions: the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Due to the spread of Christianity and Islam among schedule caste community converted are not protected as castes under Indian Reservation policy. Hence, these societies usually forge their community certificate as Hindus and practice Christianity or Islam afraid for their loss of reservation.[31]

Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan

The Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) of 1979 mandated a planning process for the social, economic and educational development of Scheduled Castes and improvement in their working and living conditions. It was an umbrella strategy, ensuring the flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from the general sector of development to the Scheduled Castes.[32] It entailed a targeted flow of funds and associated benefits from the annual plan of states and Union Territories (UTs) in at least a proportion to the national SC population. Twenty-seven states and UTs with sizable SC populations are implementing the plan. Although the Scheduled Castes population according to the 2001 Census was 16.66 crores (16.23% of the total population), the allocations made through SCSP have been lower than the proportional population.[33] A strange factor has emerged of extremely lowered fertility of scheduled castes in Kerala, due to land reform, migrating (Kerala Gulf diaspora) and democratization of education.[34]


Scheduled Caste Population by State

States with population of Scheduled Castes as per 2011 census[35]
State Population Scheduled Caste (%) Scheduled Caste Population
India 1,210,854,977 16.63 201,378,086
Andhra Pradesh 84,580,777 16.41 13,878,078
Arunachal Pradesh 1,383,727 0.00 0
Assam 31,205,576 7.15 2,231,321
Bihar 104,099,452 15.91 16,567,325
Chhattisgarh 25,545,198 12.82 3,274,269
Goa 1,458,545 1.74 25,449
Gujarat 60,439,692 6.74 4,074,447
Haryana 25,351,462 20.17 5,113,615
Himachal Pradesh 6,864,602 25.19 1,729,252
Jammu & Kashmir 12,541,302 7.38 924,991
Jharkhand 32,988,134 12.08 3,985,644
Karnataka 61,095,297 17.15 10,474,992
Kerala 33,406,061 9.10 3,039,573
Madhya Pradesh 72,626,809 15.62 11,342,320
Maharashtra 112,374,333 11.81 13,275,898
Manipur 2,570,390 3.78 97,042
Meghalaya 2,966,889 0.58 17,355
Mizoram 1,097,206 0.11 1,218
Nagaland 1,978,502 0.00 0
Odisha 41,974,218 17.13 7,190,184
Punjab 27,743,338 31.94 8,860,179
Rajasthan 68,548,437 17.83 12,221,593
Sikkim 610,577 4.63 28,275
Tamil Nadu 72,147,030 20.01 14,438,445
Tripura 3,673,917 17.83 654,918
Uttar Pradesh 199,812,341 20.70 41,357,608
Uttarakhand 10,086,292 18.76 1,892,516
West Bengal 91,276,115 23.51 21,463,270

Scheduled Tribe Population by State

States with population of Scheduled Tribes as per 2011 census[36]
State Population Scheduled Tribe (%) Scheduled Tribe Population
India 1,210,854,977 8.61 104,254,613
Andhra Pradesh 84,580,777 7.00 5,920,654
Arunachal Pradesh 1,383,727 68.79 951,865
Assam 31,205,576 12.45 3,885,094
Bihar 104,099,452 1.28 1,332,472
Chhattisgarh 25,545,198 30.62 7,821,939
Goa 1,458,545 10.21 148,917
Gujarat 60,439,692 14.75 8,914,854
Haryana 25,351,462 0.00 0
Himachal Pradesh 6,864,602 5.71 391,968
Jammu & Kashmir 12,541,302 11.90 1,492,414
Jharkhand 32,988,134 26.21 8,646,189
Karnataka 61,095,297 6.95 4,246,123
Kerala 33,406,061 1.45 484,387
Madhya Pradesh 72,626,809 21.09 15,316,994
Maharashtra 112,374,333 9.35 10,507,000
Manipur 2,570,390 35.14 903,235
Meghalaya 2,966,889 86.15 2,555,974
Mizoram 1,097,206 94.44 1,036,201
Nagaland 1,978,502 86.46 1,710,612
Odisha 41,974,218 22.85 9,591,108
Punjab 27,743,338 0.00 0
Rajasthan 68,548,437 13.48 9,240,329
Sikkim 610,577 33.72 205,886
Tamil Nadu 72,147,030 1.10 793,617
Tripura 3,673,917 31.76 1,166,836
Uttar Pradesh 199,812,341 0.57 1,138,930
Uttarakhand 10,086,292 2.90 292,502
West Bengal 91,276,115 5.80 5,294,014

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Census of India 2011, Primary Census Abstract Archived 23 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine Dokuwiki ppt.png PPT, Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, Government of India (28 October 2013).
  2. ^ "Scheduled Caste Welfare – List of Scheduled Castes". Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Scheduled Castes And Scheduled Tribes". UNITED NATIONS IN INDIA. Retrieved 21 November 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c d "Scheduled Communities: A social Development profile of SC/ST's (Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal)" (PDF). Planning Commission (India). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Roychowdhury, Adrija (5 September 2018). "Why Dalits want to hold on to Dalit, not Harijan, not SC". The Indian Express.
  6. ^ "Dalit". Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  7. ^ Union minister: Stick to SC, avoid the term 'Dalit' Archived 22 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine "Union social justice minister Thawarchand Gehlot said media should stick to the constitutional term "Scheduled Castes" while referring to Dalits as there are objections to the term to the term "Dalit" – backing the government order which has significant sections of scheduled caste civil society up in arms." Times of India 5 September 2018.
  8. ^ "2011 Census Primary Census Abstract" (PDF). Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Half of India's dalit population lives in 4 states". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Text of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, as amended". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Text of the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950, as amended". Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  12. ^ Kumar, K Shiva (17 February 2020). "Reserved uncertainty or deserved certainty? Reservation debate back in Mysuru". The New Indian Express.
  13. ^ "THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA [As on 9th December, 2020]" (PDF). Legislative Department.
  14. ^ "Chapter III" (PDF).
  15. ^ a b "What is India's caste system?". 20 July 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  16. ^ Bayly, Susan (July 1999). Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age by Susan Bayly. Cambridge Core. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521264341. ISBN 9780521264341. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  17. ^ Pletcher, Ken; Staff of EB (2010). "Untouchable - social class, India". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Civil rights | society". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Jati: The Caste System in India". Asia Society. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  20. ^ Jyoti, Dhrubo (1 October 2019). "Gandhi, Ambedkar and the 1932 Poona Pact". Hindustan Times.
  22. ^ "1. THE CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED TRIBES)". Archived from the original on 20 September 2017.
  23. ^ Metcalf, Barbara D.; Metcalf, Thomas R. (2012). A Concise History of Modern India. New York: Cambridge. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-107-67218-5.
  24. ^ [1] Archived 8 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Sengupta, Chandan (2013). Democracy, Development, and Decentralization in India: Continuing Debates. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 978-1136198489.
  26. ^ Metcalf, Barbara D.; Metcalf, Thomas R. (2012). A Concise History of Modern India. New York: Cambridge. p. 274. ISBN 978-1-107-67218-5.
  27. ^ Sengupta, Chandan (2013). Democracy, Development and Decentralization in India: Continuing Debates. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 9781136198489.
  28. ^ "National Commission for Schedule Castes". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  29. ^ "THE CONSTITUTION (EIGHTY-NINTH AMENDMENT) ACT, 2003". Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Constitution of India as of 29 July 2008" (PDF). The Constitution of India. Ministry of Law & Justice. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  31. ^ "Community status lapses on conversion, rules Madras High Court". 24 June 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  32. ^ Sridharan, R (31 October 2005). "Letter from Joint Secretary (SP) to Planning Secretaries of All States/UTs". Planning Commission (India). Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  33. ^ Bone, Omprakash S. (2015). Mannewar: A Tribal Community in India. Notion Press. ISBN 978-9352063444.
  34. ^ S., Pallikadavath; C., Wilson (1 July 2005). "A paradox within a paradox: Scheduled caste fertility in Kerala". Economic and Political Weekly. 40 (28): 3085–3093. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  35. ^ "Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice website". Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  36. ^ "Statewise Total & Tribal Population of India (As per 2011 Census)". Archived from the original on 11 May 2021. Retrieved 6 March 2021.

Further reading