Counting people, lesson from Bihar

Ansari, Khalid Anis (2023) Counting people, lesson from Bihar. Hindustan Times.

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While caste informs every aspect of the South Asian experience — knowledge, stratification, power, intimacy, theology — the Indian governing classes have been so far averse to its inclusion as a category in the decennial Census. The last time caste was recorded was in the decennial Census of 1931 conducted by the colonial regime. Ironically, while “caste” was dropped in the census exercises in Independent India with the understanding that it promotes competitive casteism and social divisions, the category “religion” that was chiefly instrumental in the country’s Partition was retained. The reluctance to hold a caste census comes primarily from the pan-religion caste elites that hold deep anxieties about getting their privilege and dominance within the system examined. BR Ambedkar sarcastically remarked on the pathological elite strategy of transcending caste by dropping it as “if a word does not exist in a dictionary it can be proved that the fact for which the word stands does not exist”. The anti-caste scholar Gail Omvedt called it the “three monkeys” policy – see no caste, hear no caste, speak no caste

Item Type: Newspaper Article
Authors: Ansari, Khalid Anis
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Caste, Citizens, Democracy
Subjects: Social sciences > Social problems & services > Other social problems and services
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Arts and Sciences
Full Text Status: Public
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