The issue of caste has long been an important structural cause of poverty in India,
with certain groups and communities socially and physically excluded from the benefits
of national economic and social development. While differences between groups are
often explained at national and state levels, this paper focuses instead on the issue
of inter-state caste-specific risks of child poverty and basic needs deprivation.
We show that while children from schedule caste and tribe (SC/ST) communities fare
poorly at the national level, it need not be so given some states manage to protect
SC/ST children, ensuring outcomes for them are on a par or better than for children
from higher caste groups. Caste and tribe status need not condemn children to lives
of poverty, and this paper identifies for policy makers where caste and tribe status
remain important drivers of poverty and disparities for children. Tackling these would
be a start for making India a more equitable society in coming decades.