Resources, Privileges and Underprivileged Communities


The general term ‘underprivileged community' (UPC) is applied to a large number of social groups, in fact to a majority of the human race. It is used to refer to ethnic, religious, cultural, social, political and economic groups. It is employed with reference to small minorities, regional linguistic groups, and even to nations as a whole. The same term is used to denote both primitive tribal communities which have remained isolated from the mainstream of modern civilization and communities which have been forcefully deprived of their heritage by the actions of a powerful adversary from within or outside their society.

Obviously any term which is used in so many different ways and to refer to so many different social situations loses something of its value as a concept for social scientists. This does not imply that any of the usages are wrong, only that a further classification is required for purposes of precision. This becomes of the utmost importance when the objective is to evolve strategies and recommend programmes to improve the social conditions of these people. Therefore we propose to examine this concept in detail, to categorize and subdivide the various groups falling under this broad heading to distinguish those whose condition arise from different causes and whose upliftment can be only brought about by different remedies.

Relationship between Resources and Privileges

All the communities identified as UPCs share a single characteristic: they lack a privilege, right, advantage or benefit which other communities possess. But in all cases the privilege which is lacking and the reason for the deficiency are not the same. On closer examination we discover that the privileges are many and the causes of the deficit are many too.

Privilege is based on the possession of or access to a resource - physical, social or psychological. Those who possess the resource obtain a power or advantage from it which expresses as a benefit or privilege to that community. Those who do not possess or have access to the resource or are unable to utilize it lack the power and the privilege.

There is a commonly held notion that all UPCs have been the victims of conscious oppression and exploitation by more powerful and prosperous communities. But this is an erroneous and overly simplified view. Possession or access to a privilege may be the result of natural conditions such as geography or material resources. Those living in favorable habitats such as a fertile valley gain an adaptive advantage and develop faster and further than those living in less hospitable environments. Privilege also derives from social factors such as education. As educated population is able to respond more effectively to new life opportunities and new technologies. In addition to physical and social conditions, privilege is determined by cultural and psychological factors as well. For example, a community in which traits of individual initiative and risk-taking are dominant can avail of enormous opportunities open to the enterprising pioneer, whereas communities in which authority and social harmony are dominant values may be slower or innovate.

Four Types of UPCs

Possession of, access to and the capacity to utilize a physical, social or psychological resource may be acquired in several ways. Conversely, the lack of a resource which is the basis of underprivileged status may be the result of several conditions. The first, which has already been noted, is simply the coincidence of nature. Certain communities benefit from more advantageous natural or social conditions than others. These communities develop politically, economically, or socially at a more rapid pace; while the less fortunate, less privileged develop more slowly and remain backward or primitive. Note that in this case backwardness is not the result of any outside agency, but simply a natural condition.

The possession of any resource and the privilege it bestows tend to be accompanied by additional advantages. For instance, educational privilege generated by the proximity of a school opens better opportunities for employment and a higher status in society. Therefore we can speak of "compound privileges", advantages which provide multidimensional benefits to the privileged. Conversely, those who lack one basic privilege often lack a host of others as well. The educationally backward also tend to be economically and socially backward. When the factors contributing to backwardness are many - absence of material resources, absence of social infrastructure, absence of psychological capacities - we may refer to the community as "deprived". Here too the term is used in the passive sense and does not imply that someone has actively deprived this group.

But there are innumerable instances where a UPC is the direct object of discrimination by another group. A more privileged community which possesses or controls physical and social resources utilizes those resources for their own exclusive benefit and denies access to others. Certain groups are excluded from access to education, political office, high paying jobs, prestigious social positions, so that all benefits of these privileges are denied to them.

Finally there are instances where one community is consciously exploited for the benefit of another. One group is intentionally denied access to resources and privileges which others enjoy because the others obtain some direct advantage from that denial. Exploited UPCs are often dispossessed of resources like land which they once enjoyed or are victims of more violent forms of exploitation like enforced labour.

We have now identified four major categories of UPCs: Backward communities whose lack of a particular resource results in retarded development in a particular field; Deprived UPCs which lack several major resources and privileges available to others; Excluded UPCs which are intentionally denied certain resources and privileges; and Exploited UPCs which are oppressed for the benefit of another group.

Difficulties in Categorizing UPCs

In practice a particular community may fall in more than one of these categories with respect to different resources and at different points of time. For instance, in the 17th and 18th centuries the coastal tribes of Western Africa lagged far behind Europe in the development of technology. Consequently they were powerless against the modern weapons of European slave traders and were easily captured and transported to the New World to do forced labour. The Backward UPCs of Africa became then the Exploited UPCs in North America working on tobacco and cotton plantations in the southern colonies. About two hundred years later, after the American Civil War slavery was abolished and the more overt forms of exploitation were eliminated. The former slaves found themselves ostensibly free in a country thousands of miles from their homeland, but they lacked nearly all the resources necessary for development. They had neither land, nor capital, nor technology, nor education, nor skills. In many areas they were actively barred from schools and all but the most menial jobs. These people now became an Excluded UPC. During the last 30 years American society has attempted to improve the position of this minority by banning discrimination against blacks in schools and jobs and by an active programme of support through scholarships, business loans, and job reservations. Though racial discrimination has been outlawed, functional discrimination remains since a large proportion of black Americans lack the education, skills and experience required for access to higher levels of privilege. Moreover, several centuries of exploitation and discrimination by a hostile society have prevented the development of positive psychological resources and constructive social attitudes making achievement in this highly competitive society more difficult. What 300 years ago was a technologically and economically Backward UPC simply by virtue of its isolation from Europe has become a Deprived UPC as a result of exploitation by and exclusion from the society in which it lives.

This example illustrates the difficulty in categorizing UPCs. It points to the inadequacy of broad generalized explanations regarding the origin of underprivileged status in each particular case. It also underlines the need for evolving remedial strategies specifically tailored to the past experience and present circumstances of each particular group.

Privileges Derived from Physical Resources

The relationship between privileges and underprivileged communities can be examined in detail with reference to physical, social and psychological resources.

  • Geography: The most basic of all physical resources is natural geography. Some nations are blessed by protective features like mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans which provide a natural fortification for defense. Favourable geography can provide a military advantage over other people and communal security against attack. This power and security are forms of social privilege which bestow an adaptive advantage on the community which possesses them. Violent storms at sea destroyed two huge Mongolian fleets attempting invasion of Japan during the 13th century and for the following 600 years Japan's geographic isolation assured it freedom from any foreign threat until the arrival of the American fleet in 1854. This tranquil security enabled the Japanese to evolve a harmonious society and closely-knit national identity which were the basis for its rapid rise as a world power during the last century. England benefited by its geographic insulation from turmoils on the Continent, thereby enabling it to evolve into the first modern nation state.

Conversely there are many peoples exposed to the constant threat and scourge of war because of indefensible natural boundaries. Ancient Palestine was at the cross-roads of early civilization and was subjected to wave after wave of invasion and subjection which continues up to the present day. In other cases the disturbing factor may be climatic, such as periodic cyclones, floods or droughts. The absence of a stable and secure environment can deprive a people of the necessary basis for political, economic and social development, thereby creating a Deprived UPC.

Other geographic resources play a similar role. Natural infrastructure like a port, a river, proximity to a trade route can generate enormous economic benefits. In earlier centuries tiny nations like Holland and Belgium carried on a vast overseas trade and possessed larger colonial empires that their far bigger neighbor, Germany, whose access to the sea was more limited. Inland and landlocked countries in Eastern Europe which were deprived of the advantages of overseas trade, military mobility by sea, developed less than those bordering the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Geographic advantage has been employed to monopolies other privileges. For centuries Western European powers monopolized the seas and the trade routes. It has also been used to oppress and exploit other peoples as in the forced transport of African tribals to the American colonies.

  • Land: Historically, possession of rich fertile land has been one of the major determinants of development. A large landmass permits unimpeded population growth and expansion of civilization. High per capita land holdings provide a basis for higher individual productivity and standard of living. The absence of good land results in economic backwardness, harsh living conditions, and emigration, e.g. desert nomad tribes like the Kalaharis and Bedouins. Insufficient landmass lends to crowding and congestion as in urban slums. Sri Lanka and Burmese repatriates of Tamil origin returning to India during the last decade constitute a landless UPC which lacks the productive base for development. Economic privilege is only one of the benefits of good land. Economic strength supports political and military power and the development of culture. The early centers of civilization were all located in fertile river valleys like the Nile, Ganges, and Cauvery. The absence of this one resource results in Deprived UPCs suffering from political, social and cultural as well as economic backwardness.

Monopolisation of land resources or revenues by one community leads to the concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of a landed aristocracy or zamindar class and forces those who are deprived to remain as landless labourers or tenant farmers. Political refugees such as the Armenians, Palestinians, Bengalis, Afgans and Cambodians form another category of landless UPCs. Land resources are more fully exploited by employing other groups to cultivate them in return for a bare sustenance. The resulting Exploited UPC is composed of serfs, slaves and bonded labour.

  • Other Natural Resources: In addition to land, other natural resources like water, forests, minerals and petroleum generate powers and privileges, and scarcity of any of them can form the basis for a UPC. In the past caste Hindus denied harijans access to water from community wells and tanks. Powerful large landholders monopolized water from an irrigation channel. White colonists in Africa monopolized the mineral wealth and exploited cheap black labour for mining. Tribal forest communities were expelled from their homelands by government or watched helplessly as the forests were cut down to feed paper mills or pave the way for new roads and settlements.
  • Physical and Social Infrastructure: Physical and social infrastructure facilities like roads, railways, power stations, schools, hospitals, markets, banks and recreation areas constitute another group of resources which confer a privilege on those who have ready access to them and deny an advantage to those who do not. Unlike the resources mentioned above, the location and distribution of these facilities is primarily determined by conscious choice, often by government and frequently with insufficient awareness of the impact of decisions on various social groups. Military factors and the primary aim of facilitating transport of raw materials for export were influential in determining the routes for major roads and railway lines in British colonies. Those communities fortunate enough to fall on or near the main routes enjoyed a great stimulus for development provided by the opening of distant markets and access to new information, new products, and new ways of life.

The presence of one infrastructure facility attracts others to the same site and bestows compound privileges on the local community. For instance, the location of schools, hospitals, factories, markets and banks are all influenced by the location of roads. The absence of one infrastructure facility tends to generate a syndrome since it discourages the establishment of others, retards development and preserves backwardness. Rural areas are particularly susceptible due to low population density, lack of political organization, low income and wealth.

Privileges Derived from Social Resources

The distribution of social resources plays an equally important role in generating privileges and UPCs.

  • Biology: The most fundamental social resource is the biology of the human species which endowed the male with greater physical strength than the female and thereby created what some believe constitutes the largest UPC of all, women. In nearly every society women have enjoyed less social rights and privileges than men. Political, social, economic and even religious privileges accrue in far greater measure to men. Women are considered inferior for many occupations, e.g. political office, professions, business. Women are not only a Backward and Deprived group, but an Excluded and Exploited one too. They are denied equal social, legal and economic rights and opportunities such as education and equal pay for equal work. Some privileges are preserved exclusively for men; priests are men worldwide. Historically male domination has often become active exploitation as female slavery, prostitution, polygamy and the Hindu customs relating to dowry and marriage and widowhood.
  • Population: Another basic social resource is population size. A society with a large population obtains a military and economic advantage by virtue of sheer numbers, generating greater political or economic power for the group, though not necessarily for each of its members. Larger nations can achieve what smaller ones cannot. Larger ethnic, linguistic, religious and social groups can obtain greater privileges and impose their priorities, customs and beliefs on the larger body politic. Small groups with insufficient numbers may become politically, economically and socially deprived minorities without a voice. Frequently the dominant group reserves all privileges for itself and denies a minority access to resources as the caste Hindus excluded the harijans and tribes. In some cases minorities are actively exploited for the benefit of larger groups as the American Indians were by European settlers.
  • Organisation: The capacity of a community to organize for military, political or economic purposes is an invaluable social resource which tends to evolve along with other aspects of social development. The power for efficient utilization of human and material resources, for cooperation and coordination, for centralization and delegation of authority are social skills which generate social privileges. For instance, the commercial organization of the Parsis, Jews and Nattukottai Chettiars has enabled these tiny minorities to achieve high positions in commerce disproportionate to their size. At the same time there are other groups, some very large, which fail to utilize social opportunities because they lack the requisite organizational structure. Unorganised labour, particularly landless agricultural labourers, are unable to demand an economic wage from their employers or to carry effective weight with politicians for this reason. Unorganised groups easily become Excluded or Exploited UPCs. An entire class or caste may be denied access to remunerative employment and wages, political office and administrative posts. Unorganised blacks and women in USA were relegated to lower jobs and lower scales of pay. In some cases the social organization of an entire community may be destroyed by war and mass migration.
  • Education: In the present age the single most important resource is education. It generates greater power and privileges to those that possess it than capital. Education is the main lever for political, social and economic development. Historically certain nations, religious groups, classes and communities have developed this resource more than others and profited by the adaptive and innovative capacities it fosters.

The American colonists were primarily from educated classes in Europe. Even 100 years ago literacy in the USA was 80% and today almost twice as many American students go on to higher education as in any other country. Conversely some communities have been very late in developing systems of formal education, particularly in countries constituting the Third World. Where education did evolve, it was usually restricted to a small aristocratic class as in Europe or a priestly class as in India. The denial of education to women worldwide has been a major cause and expression of their inferior status in society.

  • Skills: Productive skills play a role similar to that of education but are confined to the economic sphere. This resource is transferred from generation to generation through formal training and informal apprenticeship. The quality of productive skills varies enormously from one group to another and is strongly influenced by group attitudes toward hard work, physical labour, and success. The farmers of Punjab, Coimbatore and Israel exemplify the economic advantages of this resource. Many UPCs are poor in productive skills, some have been denied access to higher order skills by other groups in society.
  • Technology: Application of technology for military, transport, production, communication, education, medicine and domestic convenience has generated new powers and privileges which have ushered in the modern industrial post-industrial age all over the world increasing military and productive power a thousand-fold, reducing the time required for transport and communication to a tiny fraction of what it was half a century ago, facilitating the dissemination of information and spread of education, eradicating famine and disease and doubling the average life-span in many nations, and providing the innumerable comforts and conveniences of modern life.

Yet alongside technologically advanced communities, there are others which have remained virtually untouched and unbenefitted by the technological revolution. In fact technology has widened the huge chasm separating them from the advancing mainstream of society. This technological deficiency may be the result of geographic isolation as it was for Japan and China in the last century. It is often the result of technological illiteracy resulting from the absence of another resource, education. Technological backwardness tends to be multidimensional, thereby producing technologically Deprived UPCs.

While certain types of modern technology such as the car, radio, TV, and various heavy industries like steel, power, textiles, cement, paper have spread worldwide; other types of advanced technology remain the exclusive possession of the privileged and are withheld from others to preserve an economic or military advantage by limiting competition. Legal safeguards like patents have been introduced which preserve this exclusivity. Historically Exploited UPCs have been prevented from acquiring new technology, so they would be forced to depend on the privileged. Colonial India, for instance, was prevented from establishing an industrial base, so it would have to buy industrial goods from Britain.

  • Capital: Capital is commonly considered the most important of all social resources, a position we have already ascribed to education. The importance attributed to capital undoubtedly arises from the huge amounts of this resource which all privileged communities possess. Yet in reality capital has been much more the result of development than the cause. Capital is generated in the process of development by the increasing energy and efficiency of economic activity.

Nevertheless, capital is a basic social resource, the possession of which permits the owner access to every other resource and most social privileges. Communities deprived of this resource are often deprived of higher education, social respectability, legal rights, political influence and a just return for their labour as well. Most of the returns from production accrue to capital, not to labour; thereby maintaining a dual class structure. The poor are denied access to financial institutions and cannot borrow money because they have none. Economist Arthur Lewis argues that the abundance of cheap labour in low income countries willing to work for subsistence level wages generates unfavourable terms of international trade which help keep these countries poor. Capital is the resource most easily used to exploit other groups, since it can be readily converted into political, economic and social privileges.

Privileges Derived from Cultural and Psychological Resources

Cultural and psychological resources are less easily identified and inventoried, but they play no less a role than physical and social resources in the development process and the creation of UPCs. Though many psychological traits of a community influence the capacity for development, a closer examination of just a few will be sufficient to illustrate their importance.

  • Energy and Dynamism: The most fundamental trait required for development is an abundance of energy. For progress beyond the level of bare subsistence, man should have more physical energy than he requires for his survival. This excess energy must then be directed in positive channels to raise him to a higher level of life. For the movement to sustain itself, the physical energy for work must be converted into a vital energy for achievement, i.e. the energy should acquire the psychological characteristics of a desire, an ambition, an enthusiasm, an aspiration for success. At a still higher level the energy should acquire a greater mental element. It should become organized, determined, dedicated, knowledgeable, informed, imaginative, innovative, and creative. This abundant energy in excess of what is required for maintenance of life at the present level is the real engine of development.

Physical Energy: In the ladder of civilization cleanliness is the first rung. The movement of development is not unidimensional, it is not just expressive of energy in greater measure. Along with that symptom other aspects of development too appear. One such early evidence of development is cleanliness. For a primitive who sleeps under a tree, who is unconscious of the dirt on his clothes, who does not distinguish much between fresh food and stale food, the shift to cleanliness means an expenditure of enormous energy. One of the outward signs expressing an abundance of physical energy in civilized forms of life is a concern with personal hygiene and an orderly environment. One hundred years ago most peasants in rural France prided themselves on the fact that they bathed and washed their clothes only once or twice a year. This state in which unhygienic conditions are accepted by and acceptable to the community is a primitive one from which emergence is difficult. The willingness of a community to change its physical habits and raise itself from that state suggests a capacity for development.

Vital Energy: At the next higher level, life is characterized not merely by physical wants, but by activities which express the vital energy of the community. Vital energy expresses enthusiasm. In the matrix of social life this enthusiasm has found a permanent channel to express itself. This channel is the ceremonies that cluster around the landmarks of individual life such as birth, puberty, marriage, death, etc. These events are of intense vital importance to man; hence he idolizes them, worships and cherishes them, endows them with great significance by mental belief. Often these beliefs degenerate into superstition. In any case, they are vehicles of great vital energy. Development beyond this level is only possible when man exhibits curiosity and a capacity to acquire fresh knowledge, a willingness to give up vital superstitions and base himself on facts. This is the birth of mental energy and mental life. To fight and overcome this superstition, the fittest vehicle is education.

Historians have noted that a surplus of physical energy is more abundantly found in the peoples inhabiting the colder regions of the Northern Hemisphere, than in those living in warm and tropical countries. This has been attributed to the fact that the cold climate and harsh environment of Northern Europe combined with the constant threat of attack from so many different nations located only short distances from each other compelled these peoples to take a far greater effort for survival than was necessary in the more hospitable climatic zones farther south. The constant struggle to gain mastery over a hostile environment fostered the psychological traits of dynamism, individual initiative, enterprise, and innovation in these peoples. Similar characteristics are shared by other communities which have been frequently exposed to one form or another of external threat such as the Punjabis who lived directly in the way of foreign armies invading India.

Culture: On the other hand, relatively tranquil and easy conditions of life where the earth yields abundance and prosperity have often formed the basis for ancient seats of high civilization and culture. But the peoples blessed by such a pleasant environment and fortunes easily won without labour are usually unwilling or unable to take the effort required to meet challenges from outside or avail of new opportunities which present themselves. Thus the paradox that the high civilizations of the past were situated in what are today among the least materially developed nations of the world, and the most modern industrial nations have emerged in relatively young civilizations whose history is only a few centuries old.

Energy, dynamism and enterprise are essential for development. Many UPCs are deficient in these psychological resources. In some cases these traits have been actively denied expression in an entire population. The European colonists of Asia and Africa employed fear, authoritarianism and repression to control the local populations, thereby stifling human initiative. In those nations which have recently emerged from under the yoke of imperialism, the generations born after Independence in an atmosphere of political and social freedom exhibit far greater energy and initiative than their forefathers. Smaller groups of UPCs which have been excluded or exploited like the harijans in India and blacks in USA are only gradually acquiring this invaluable resource which they were long denied.

  • Association & Harmony: At the other end of the spectrum there are other psychological resources which support collective social endeavour, rather than individual initiative. Traits such as association and cooperation for mutual benefit, social harmony, loyalty to the group, and patriotism have been developed by many traditional societies and are more characteristic of the Orient than the West. The creative value of these traits is very strikingly illustrated by the rise of modern Japan which has managed to transform a traditional agrarian rural society into a technologically advanced industrial national while at the same time preserving its unique cultural heritage based on social harmony and cohesiveness. In fact this heritage has played an important role in that achievement. Many advanced Western nations with highly competitive individualistic cultures find their further progress retarded by an absence of this resource. In Japan's case these traits were nurtured by many centuries of physical and cultural isolation and embodied in the national religion of Shintoism with its worship of the national shakti. The development of Japan was more a coordinated collective effort than a sum of individual achievements as in the West. Many traditional societies possess similar characteristics, but they often unwittingly abandon them in their quest for rapid modernization according to the western model, thereby depriving themselves of a valuable resource.

The foregoing classification of UPCs according to the resources they lacked and the causes for their deprivation has very important implications for the evolution of policies, strategies, and programmes intended for the upliftment of these communities. This classification indicates that a summary grouping of UPCs under a common head and the application of a uniform policy for their development which fails to take into account the special causes and circumstances that distinguish these communities from one another runs the risk of being inappropriate, irrelevant, and ineffective.







Simple Privileges - utilizing resources and exercising the power it generates for one's own benefit..

Backward UPCs - absence of a physical, social, technical or psychological resource retards advance.

Compound Privileges - privileges derived from one resource or power generate other privileges.

Deprived UPC - absence of one privilege prevents acquisition of others.

Exclusive Privileges - power exercised for the benefit of one group excluding others from access.

Excluded UPC - denied privilege by the group that enjoys it.

Oppressive Privileges - based on oppression of one group by another.

Exploited UPC - group exploited for benefit of another group.


1. Geography - protective features like mountains, desert, oceans, rivers

SP - military security - natural protection from invasion, permits growth of a political entity, e.g. Japan grew cohesive and organized during 6 centuries of isolation. England was protected from invasion by European powers and became first modern nation.

UPC - unprotective of indefinable physical boundaries subject group to constant insecurity, preventing growth of a stable body politic and distinct identity, e.g. ancient Palestine and modern Israel.

CP - physical security and isolation fosters social cohesiveness and economic development as in Japan prior to and even after 1854. England's industrial revolution began in the 17th century and advanced without interruption by European wars.

UPC - lack of political stability prevents social and economic development, e.g. Poland.


OP - physical security from attack also facilitates active military aggression since there is no fear of reprisal.

2. Geography - natural infrastructure of ports, rivers, trade routes.

SP - economic power generated by advantages in overseas trade. A tiny Holland and Belgium had more colonies than landlocked Germany. Cheap inland river transport.

UPC - countries without access to the sea had little contact with lucrative foreign markets and resources, isolated people remain outside mainstream of progress, e.g. Central Africa, hill tribes in Nepal.

CP - economic power from trade generated military power for colonial conquest which further enhanced economic power for England, France, Holland, etc. Trade centers also became political centers and centers of civilization and culture. All great cities are ports or on rivers.

UPC - inland or land-locked areas became not only economically, but culturally and socially backward, e.g. Central Europe, Salem and Coimbatore, Midwest USA. Economic deprivation is accompanied by social, political, cultural deprivation, e.g. tribals.

EP - the power generated by geographic advantage can be used to deprive others of their rightful access to a resource, e.g. European powers monopolized the seas and trade routes.

UPC - A group can be displaced and deprived of privileges, e.g. American Indians lost their land and hunting grounds.

OP - sea power for economic gain leads to overseas conquests and exploitation of colonies.

UPC - economic, social and cultural backwardness originating from geographic isolation may make a group vulnerable to exploitation, e.g. African slaves.

3. Land - fertile soil, large expanse

SP - fertile soil generates high productivity, prosperity. A vast landmass permits expansion, unimpeded population growth, large land holdings and greater individual productivity as in USA.

UPC - absence of good land results in economic backwardness and emigration and harsh life, e.g. desert nomad tribes like Kalahari and Bedouin. Small land area leads to crowding, congestion, low per capita production. Sri Lanka and Burmese repatriates of Tamil origin returning to India.

CP - fertile rich areas become centers of culture, e.g. Tanjore delta, Nile Valley, Fertile Crescent.

UPC - economic backwardness preserves social primitivity.

EP - Monopolisation of land resources by a few leads to concentration of physical wealth and political power, e.g. Zamindars.

UPC - denial of access to land forces a group to remain as labourers dependent on landowners. Refugees displaced by war or famines, e.g. Armenians, Palestinians, Bengalis, Afghans, Vietnamese and Cambodians.

OP - land is made more productive by exploiting other groups to cultivate it as in feudal system and colonial plantations, e.g. feudal lords and absentee landlord profits from other labour.

UPC - those without the resources are exploited as serfs, slaves and bonded labour.

4. Water - for survival, cultivation and power

SP - regular copious rainfall generates luxurious vegetation and prosperity. River valleys like Ganges, Cauvery.

UPC - absence of water keeps life harsh, primitive, backward.

As above

EP - control of access to surface water for the benefit of one group.

UPC - denial of access, e.g. harijans prevented from using a tank or well.

OP - surface water which is a common social resource may be controlled and distributed for a fee by those who are strong to those who are weak.

5. Forests

6. Minerals

OP - mineral wealth of a country monopolized by a ruling minority for its own benefit, e.g. white colonists in Africa.

UPC - cheap black labour exploited for mining.

7. Physical and Social Infra-Structure -

a. roads and railway

b. power

c. schools

d. hospitals

e. markets

f. banks

g. recreation

SP - the creation of any of these facilities confers a great privilege on the surrounding community. Location of facilities may be determined by military, political, economic and social considerations, for centralization, proximity to port or market in wealthy communities, etc.

UPC - absence of any infra-structure facility retards development and preserves backwardness. Rural areas are particularly susceptible due to low population density, lack of political organization, low income and wealth.

CP - the presence of one infrastructure facility attracts others and bestows compound privileges. The road links outlying areas with markets and determines the location of industries, schools, hospitals, banks, etc.






Simple Privileges

Backward UPCs

Compound Privileges

Deprived UPC

Exclusive Privileges

Excluded UPC

Oppressive Privileges

Exploited UPC


1. Biological

SP - superior strength of man enables him to dominate physically over woman.

UPC - in nearly every society women have less rights and privileges than men.

CP - political, economic, social and even religious privileges accrue to men because of their biological domination.

UPC - women are considered inferior for many occupations, e.g. political office, professions, business.

EP - the privileges reserved for men, e.g. priests are men worldwide.

UPC - women denied equal social, legal and economic rights and opportunities, e.g. education, equal pay.

OP - male domination becomes an organized exploitation.

2. Population

SP - a society with a large population obtains a military and economic advantage by virtue of sheer numbers, generating greater political or economic power for the group (not necessarily for all the individuals in it). Larger nations (USA, USSR, Japan, China, India) can achieve what smaller ones cannot. Larger racial and religious groups dominate.

UPC - small groups with insufficient numbers become minorities without a voice, e.g. small religions, ethnic and occupational groups, small nations, e.g. Kalash of Pakistan.

CP - in democratic societies size determines political power which determines economic advantage in terms of allocation of funds. Dominant groups impose their priorities and beliefs on the larger body politic.

UPC - small groups become politically, economically, socially deprived.

EP - the dominant group reserves all privileges and advantage to itself, e.g. caste Hindus.

UPC - discrimination against minority groups which are denied access to resources, e.g. education for SCs and ST

UPC - minority is exploited for benefit of majority group, e.g. small nations by the big nations, American India by European settlers.

3. Social Organisation

SP - generates military, political, economic power through concentration, efficient utilization, and coordination of authority, e.g. commercial organization of the Parsis, Jews and Nattukottai Chettiars enabled a tiny minority to achieve a leading role in commerce.

UPC - unorganized groups fail to avail of social opportunities, e.g. unorganized labour fails to demand an economic wage.

CP - Rome's military and political organization enabled them to maintain a huge overseas empire and generated economic prosperity from its conquests. Japan's cohesive social organization produced a superior economic efficiency.

UPC - e.g. unorganized farm labour fails to carry political weight.

EP - organized groups exclude new entrants, e.g. professional guilds.

UPC - e.g. unorganized minorities like American blacks are excluded from high political and administrative posts..

OP - due to superior organization authority and privilege accrue entirely to one part of society, e.g. a caste or class.

UPC - unorganized groups exploited or oppressed, e.g. rural landless labour, e.g. unorganized women relegated to lower jobs and positions at low wages. Social organization may also be destroyed, e.g. Palestine refugees.

4. Education

SP - acquisition of knowledge generates economic and political power, e.g. American colonists were primarily from educated classes in Europe creating a highly educated base in the New World.

UPC - some groups have not developed education as an indigenous resource, e.g. African tribals.

CP - education becomes the passport to all privileges in society - political, social, and economic.

UPC - the uneducated are excluded from jobs, political office, etc.

EP - some groups retain for themselves the power and privilege accruing to education, e.g. Brahmins and English in India.

UPC - groups denied access to the education available in society, e.g. Indians during British Raj, harijans and tribals, women.

OP - knowledge used as a means to exploit others for one's own benefit, e.g. priestly castes.

UPC - ignorant are exploited by the educated.

5. Production Skills

SP - economic power, e.g. Indians in East Africa, Punjab farmer.

UPC - less productive groups remain economically backward.

CP - economic power leads to political and social leadership.

EP - guilds of Europe restricted the transfer of productive skills to maintain a monopoly.

6. Technological

a. military

b. transport

c. production

d. communication and education, information

e. medical

f. social convenience

SP - technical advancement has led to military supremacy, opened lucrative trade opportunities, generated greater economic returns from production, improved educational standards, health and living standards of those who possessed it, e.g. England's industrial revolution.

UPC - those who do not possess a new technology fall behind and are unable to compete militarily, economically or commercially, e.g. Japan and China confronted by European power in 19th century.

CP - technological advantages in any field tend to enhance privileges in other fields, e.g. improved ships for transport created new markets and made available new raw materials at lower prices.

EP - new technology usually withheld from others to preserve an economic or military advantage by limiting competition. Legal safeguards like patents preserve the gap.

OP - technology is exploited for dominating of one group by another through military conquest or economic imperialism.

UPC - colonies like India were prevented from acquiring new technology so they would be forced to buy from ruling country.

7. Capital

SP - capital accrues to those who possess some other resources - material, social or psychological - and it is offered to others within certain groups. It generates economic privilege.

UPC - lack of this resource prevents economic development.

CP - capital also generates social and political privileges, e.g. the influence of a wealthy man, only the rich can run for political office.

UPC - those lacking this resource are deprived of many social privileges, e.g. higher education, social respectability, legal rights.

EP - capital is monopolized by a group which claims all the returns of capital for itself and denies capital accumulation to those who do not already possess it.

UPC - returns from production accrue to capital not to labour thereby maintaining a class structure. The poor are denied access to financial institutions and cannot borrow money because they have none. Arthur Lewis cites the unfavourable terms of trade for exports from LDCs due to their low labour costs.

OP - capital is used as a power for political, economic and social exploitation.

UPC - the poor are exploited to make the rich richer.




Simple Privileges

Backward UPCs

Compound Privileges

Deprived UPC

Exclusive Privileges

Excluded UPC

Oppressive Privileges

Exploited UPC


1. Energy and dynamism

SP - abundant energy is a power fostered by adversity when it is combined with an opportunity for individual initiative. The cold climate and harsh environment of Northern Europe combined with the constant threat from nearby foreign people required greater physical effort and stamina than life in more habitable tropical countries. People exposed to constant challenge like the Punjabis who were on the path of invasion to India develop this resource in greater abundance.

UPC - a peaceful, isolated relatively easy life can result in relative backwardness and inability for great efforts.

CP - this resource which arises from absence of other resources generates a power that not only promotes survival but spurs high performance in military and economic activities resulting in compound privileges.

UPC - lack of energy, dynamism and initiative result in slower all around development.

EP - this resource is monopolized by those who enjoy a large measure of social freedom, for only in freedom can individual initiative develop.

UPC - those denied social and political freedom are prevented from acquiring this resource and its resulting privileges, e.g. colonial nations like India, discriminated minorities like harijans and blacks.

OP - energy and dynamism can be utilized to exploit and oppress more sedentary peoples.

UPC - those lacking energy or dynamism are easily dominated and exploited, e.g. tropical countries.

2. Courage & Enterprise

As above.




3. Harmony & Cooperation

SP - societies which endow individuals with these qualities possess an adaptive advantage in collective action. Japan's cohesive and harmonious social culture is largely responsible for its high efficiency.

UPC - many otherwise advanced nations, particularly western industrial ones, are deficient in this resource.




4. Patriotism & Loyalty

As above.