The findings of a survey, conducted by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), have shown that people in Chennai are far less likely to give importance to caste and religion while hiring domestic workers than those in Bengaluru.
The study showed that only 12%-14% of the surveyed households across different income groups in Bengaluru said that caste of the domestic workers was not an important at all. In contrast, 50%- 75% of the households in Chennai said caste was not an important factor at all.
Interestingly, the percentage of people in Chennai who did not consider caste as an important factor was the lowest (around 50%) in the middle income households. In high income households, it was around 65% and nearly 75% in low income households.
Around 25% of the households in Bengaluru said caste was a very important factor while hiring domestic workers. In Chennai, such households were within 5%.
The study, which was commissioned by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), was one of the largest of its kind, covering 10,000 households in both cities. It was conducted over three years and has studied the various facets of the problems faced by domestic workers.
When it came to religion, the trend was very similar to that of caste in both cities. However, a noticeable difference was that the low income households surveyed in Chennai seemed to provide marginally higher importance to religion than caste in recruiting domestic workers.
“Our findings show that ascriptive identities such as caste, religion and region still shape hiring in Bengaluru, despite evidence of their diminishing importance in some ways in Chennai,” the study said.
The study, expectedly, found that households are more likely to engage domestic workers when their incomes rise. However, importantly, its results indicated that the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are less likely to engage domestic workers even when their incomes rise. The authors of the study have highlighted the need for further research into this finding.