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Professor, Agrarian and Labour Studies, SOAS, University of London

Date & Time

Tuesday Tue, 28 Mar 2023


Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

This presentation focuses on structural labour discrimination at the bottom of the labour hierarchy in India. Globally, labour market discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender and place is well documented. This is also the case for work related inequalities and discrimination along the lines of caste and ethnicity in India.

Combining labour market data with qualitative studies, this presentation by Jens Lerche shows that structural discrimination is central to labour market segmentation, also in the modern economy. This follows lines of caste, ethnicity and place.

Seasonal labour migrants, and among them especially Adivasis and Dalits, undertake the hardest, lowest paid hyper-precarious informalised jobs, often without access to the same rights as local labourers. They do this at the the cost of their and their household’s long-time social reproduction and care which is externalised by the employers. This is a result not only of direct labour market discrimination but is also based on discrimination in access to skill and historical disadvantage. The presentation concludes with a discussion of policy recommendations.

This presentation is part of a conference organized by Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) and National Law School University of India (NLS).

Presented by:



Jens Lerche

Professor, Agrarian and Labour Studies, SOAS, University of London

Jens Lerche is a Professor in Agrarian and Labour Studies at SOAS University of London. He works on labour and agrarian relations, and caste and racial discrimination and oppression. His research focuses on India. A main concern of his is Dalit class-caste discrimination and work relations, including seasonal labour migration. Publications include the books Ground down by growth: tribe, caste, class and inequality in 21st century India (co-authored with Alpa Shah et al, 2018, Hindi edition 2019, OUP India and Pluto) and Understanding patterns of structural discrimination of migrant and other workers in some countries of South and West Asia (co-authored with Igor Bosc et al, 2022, Geneva: ILO). He is the editor of Journal of Agrarian Change.