ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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State and Its Anxiety of Caste Census

Acknowledging the fact of caste through census reveals the truth of anxiety.


The idea of caste census by the colonial rulers had both constraining as well as enabling sight. It was constraining to the extent that it was designed to bring certain sections, such as sex workers, prisoners and patients suffering from contagious diseases, under the surveillance of the colonial administration. The enabling sight of the colonial census operation was discernible in particular respect to the Untouchable castes. Colonial census that used anthropological parameters to cover these castes not only brought their predicament in the national focus, but it also helped Untouchable leaders to approximate the social reality of untouchability at the national level. Put differently, through print and wireless media, the enumeration of caste census generated a pan-Indian social consciousness among the Untouchables.

The central government of free India, for distributive purposes, continued all-India census for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). However, the rising desperation and depression that has been increasingly faced by several castes seems to have led the leaders of these castes to demand caste census so that the case for state attention to the problems of these castes could be legitimately made. These parties are demanding the enumerative mention of caste in government records just like the SCs and STs. However, it is both the central government as well as some academicians, who, for different reasons, do not favour the idea of extending caste census to castes other than SCs and STs. What are the grounds of such scepticism to caste census?

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Updated On : 21st Aug, 2021
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