Governance Minority Issues

Effects of the Pandemic on the Vulnerable Section: SC, ST, and OBC

As a result of the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on SC/ST and OBC communities’ vulnerabilities, which are revealed by a number of social indices.

Impact on Education

Notably, following the epidemic, the promotion rate among students belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) groups rose significantly. Students from Other Backward Classes (OBC) saw an unbroken increase in the promotion rate.

Repetition rates are declining: During the pandemic years, the rates of pupils repeating classes were too significantly reduced, with only 1% of students in all areas doing so. Notably, after the epidemic, the disparity in repetition rates between SC/ST students and general category students significantly decreased.

Declining learning outcomes: The National Achievement Survey (NAS) exam results for school pupils showed a considerable decline in grades across classes and in the majority of courses, while the promotion rate increased and the repetition rate decreased.

Disproportionate impact: SC and ST students are disproportionately more affected than other groups since they saw the greatest declines in learning results and the greatest increases in promotion rates.

Impact on their livelihood

High likelihood of losing one’s job: The researchers discovered that the likelihood of losing one’s job was three times higher for SC and OBC workers than it was for those from upper castes.

Comparatively higher unemployment: By April 2020, just 32% of upper caste workers were employed, down from 39% in December 2019. The decline was more significant for SC personnel, of whom only 24% remained employed in April 2020 compared to 44% in December 2019. The declines were 40% to 26% and 48% to 33%, respectively, for OBCs and STs.

Research indicates that the upper castes are endowed with more human capital, i.e. educational achievement, and are in occupations that are less susceptible to pandemic disruption. The impact on scheduled caste is three times worse, which is shocking. The pandemic not only revealed the pre-existing injustices, but it also made them worse.

Impact on women

Effect on mental health: Compared to women from high castes, women from low castes may experience lower mental health outcomes and feel more alone.

Prior studies have shown that low-caste women are more likely to experience social isolation, job loss, and healthcare access hurdles, which may lead to worse mental health and increased levels of loneliness.

Rising loneliness: Compared to women in the general caste group, women in the SC/ST and OBC groups will have worse mental health and a higher perception of loneliness. We anticipate that even after taking sociodemographic factors into account, this disparity will remain significant.

Women in general, and women from disadvantaged groups in particular, are victims of various systemic disadvantages, which were made worse by the epidemic. Women in rural areas, particularly female wage laborer’s, experienced severe socioeconomic hardships as a result of the lockdown, which abruptly ended their options for employment.

Visible gendered effects of the pandemic: The gendered effects of the pandemic are not natural, but social norms and behaviour place individuals at higher risk because of ingrained gender bias in the social structure and culture.


The Indian society has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. SC, ST, and OBC were at a disadvantage when it came to vaccinations and healthcare access. Numerous studies and analyses have evaluated the impact of the coronavirus on different castes and projected the dire situation of vulnerable populations. When developing future policies for vulnerable populations, the government must take into consideration all of this statistics.

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