My new book is out on the 20th of November. Screen-Res Image

Ground Down by Growth

Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India

By Alpa Shah, Jens Lerche, Richard Axelby, Dalel Benbabaali, Brendan Donegan, Jayaseelan Raj and Vikramaditya Thakur


Why has India’s astonishing economic growth not reached the people at the bottom of its social and economic hierarchy? Travelling the length and breadth of the subcontinent, this book shows how India’s ‘untouchables’ and ‘tribals’ fit into the global economy.

India’s Dalit and Adivasi communities make up a staggering one in twenty-five people across the globe and yet they remain amongst the most oppressed. Conceived in dialogue with economists, Ground Down by Growth reveals the impact of global capitalism on their lives. It shows how capitalism entrenches, rather than erases, social difference and has transformed traditional forms of identity-based discrimination into new mechanisms of exploitation and oppression.

Through studies of the working poor, migrant labour and the conjugated oppression of caste, tribe, region, gender and class relations, the social inequalities generated by capitalism are exposed.


Alpa Shah is Associate Professor (Reader) in Anthropology at LSE. She is the author of In the Shadows of the State, Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India (Duke, 2010). She has also written about affirmative action, labour migration, agrarian change and India and Nepal’s Maoist inspired revolutionary struggles.

Jens Lerche is Reader in Labour and Agrarian Studies at SOAS, University of London. He has published on low castes, rural and migrant labour and agrarian relations in India for more than two decades. He is editor of the Journal of Agrarian Change.

Richard Axelby is a Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS. His writing focuses on environmental history, natural resource management, science in colonial India, British identity and development work.

Dalel Benbabaali is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in Area Studies at the University of Oxford. She has previously taught at LSE and the Sorbonne University.

Brendan Donegan is a Visiting Fellow in Anthropology at LSE. He previously held positions at SOAS and Goldsmiths, where he taught courses in Social Anthropology and Development Studies.

Jayaseelan Raj is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Development Studies in Kerala. He completed his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Bergen before joining LSE as a postdoctoral fellow. He has conducted longterm fieldwork on Dalit and Adivasis in the tea plantations of South India and on their land struggles.

Vikramaditya Thakur is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Delawere.


Read an extract from the book:


‘An exceptional book coming from researchers who lived with the most marginalised people to present the India of dislocation and despair’

Anand Teltumbde, writer, civil rights activist and Senior Professor of Business Management,  IIIT Hyderabad

‘Explodes the myth of the modernising power of capitalism. This sensitive and acute analysis shows that, far from doing away with inherited inequalities of power, Indian capitalism uses and intensifies them.’

Jayati Ghosh, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

‘A kaleidoscopic view of how established social forms morph and realign to produce deepening inequality and persistent, patterned disadvantage. Super-rich material and compelling analysis’

Tania Murray Li, University of Toronto


Buy the book from the UK publisher:

Buy the book in Canada:

Buy the book in the United States:


Paperback | 9780745337685|£24.99 / $35 / €33

Hardback | 9780745337692| £85 / $115 / €110

Kindle | 9781786802064|£24.99 / $35 / €33

EPUB | 9781786802057|£24.99 / $35 / €33

PDF | 9781786802040| £85 / $115 / €110

Shah Flyer

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