The “Indian Enigma” refers to the higher rates of childhood stunting in relatively richer India compared to Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). However, existing explanations have ignored the role of social identity in both regions. While the average rates of stunting of under-five children in India and SSA are 35.7% and 33.6%, respectively, there are sharp disparities by social identities with varying socio-economic circumstances. In India, 27% of dominant upper caste Hindu children are stunted compared to 40% of children from the most marginalized groups, the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). In SSA, Christians and Muslims have similar and lower stunting rates compared to all other religious groups. Furthermore, stunting rates are not higher among the groups in SSA that are politically excluded than among those who are not. Finally, accounting for factors identified as explaining the India-SSA height gradient - birth-order, mother height, open defecation, and sibling size - taken together can explain one-third of the differences among the caste groups in India. Our findings suggest that incorporating considerations of social identity is essential to understanding the problem of stunting in India and SSA.