ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making It in India

Examining Social Mobility in Three Walks of Life

Inequality is rising in India alongside rapid economic growth, reinforcing the need to investigate social mobility. Are children from less well-off sections also able to rise to higher paying positions, or are these positions going mainly to established elites? This survey of more than 1,500 recent entrants to a variety of engineering colleges, business schools, and higher civil services finds that class and caste continue to make an important difference. Factors that stand out as significant barriers to entry include rural upbringing and parents' lack of education. Individuals who have succeeded in surmounting these obstacles have almost invariably been assisted by a teacher, relative, or friend who motivated and inspired them. A way out of the conundrum can be explored by investing in role models and information provision.

The author wishes to thank the director and faculty of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, and the organisation, Aspiring Minds, without whose help this research would not have been possible. I would also like to thank the administration of each of the other participating institutions that must, of necessity, remain unnamed. Thanks are also due to the following individuals who contributed helpfully to the research process or commented on early drafts: Varun Aggarwal, Kripa Ananthpur, Sunil Arora, Moana Bhagabati, Anil Chaplot, Philip Cook, Milton Esman, Barbara Harriss-White, Vegard Iversen, Mary Katzenstein, Sripad Motiram, S Rajagopalan, Aishwarya Ratan, S Sadagopan, Ankur Sarin, Alakh Sharma, M S Sriram, and Kentaro Toyama. The usual disclaimers apply.

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