Dropping caste as a census category for the 1941 Census was a massive setback to the lower castes who were using the census figures to legitimise their representation in the public sector, says the author.
Pritam Singh, Academic Tutor & TRIP Fellow, Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Historians working on colonial India have often argued that the colonial censuses hardened caste divides in Indian society. Contrarily, this paper showcases that the history of colonial caste census is more complicated than what was assumed by historians who simplistically identify it as a divisive colonial instrument.
Caste as a census category was especially crucial for the lower castes. Caste data in the census reports highlighted the marginalisation of the lower castes and was used by them to make their claims for power.
These demands of the lower castes were seen by the upper-caste nationalists and reformers as divides created through the colonial censuses. Hence, due to the demands of the upper castes, caste as a census category was dropped for the 1941 Census.
This was a massive setback to the lower castes who were using the census figures to legitimise their representation in the public sector.
Published in: Economic & political Weekly
To read the full article, please click here.