POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 11, 2010 AT 05:00 IST ,  Edited At: Jun 11, 2010 05:00 IST

Padmanabh Samarendra, in the Indian Express, recalls the historical problems with counting castes in the census till 1931:

From the very beginning, overwhelming discrepancies marked the counting and classification of castes. In 1871-82, for example, Bengal presidency listed just 69 castes. But by 1901, that number had swollen to 380. Meanwhile in Bombay Presidency, the numbers were greater — going up from 140 in 1871-72 to 690 in 1901.

Caste lists found in the colonial census reports were clearly inconsistent. In fact, what might come as a surprise to many is that between 1871-72 and 1931, no exhaustive list of castes could be prepared for any province, let alone for the country as a whole. Every list was concluded with entries such as “miscellaneous castes”, “other castes”, “caste not stated”, and so on. In addition, there existed the problem of identifying castes. After all, how do we know that communities named as Bhad Bhunja (1901 caste list, Bombay), Oraon, Marwari (1901 caste list, Bengal) or Lingayat (1901 caste list, Madras) are actually caste groups?

He also raises the basic questions about even trying to assess the strength of the OBCs, for example: on what criteria at the pan-Indian level would someone qualify as belonging to this class? As he points out, this is necessary because not all states have an OBC list.

Further, one may ask whether the government is going to include in the census questionnaire an OBC column for the Muslims? We know that many castes from the Muslim community figure in the OBC list prepared by the states. However, would the government be willing to introduce the principle of subdividing Muslims, or for that matter the Christian population, along caste lines?

Read the full piece at the Indian Express

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Jun 11, 2010 AT 05:00 IST ,  Edited At: Jun 11, 2010 05:00 IST
Follow us on Twitter for all updates, like us on Facebook for important and fun stuff

Post a Comment
Share your thoughts
You are not logged in, please log in or register
Must See
Daily Mail
Aug 17, 2010
08:37 PM
dear selvan
i had read that the famous writer shivram karanth was attracted by gandhi but after realising that gandhi was against widow remarriage and supported caste system separated from him.i do agree that he could have changed his opinions in his later age but was nevr a strong votary/champion of widow remarriage/intercaste marriage.
dear narendra
its not only obcs but tribals and scheduled castes status too vary from state to state. my sister in law a christian tribal could nt get the community certificate as she now resides in chennai(her parents migrated pre independence)and its recognised as tribal in kanyakumari district only
its the fault of states like west bengal/punjab which r under the iron grip of upper classes they refused to create obc lists. the caste people who were in professions like barber/weavers/carpenters/farm labourers/small farmers and any community which is least represented can come under obc. in tamilnadu the saundi brahmins(brahmins who perform rituals for brahmin cremations in the burial ground and cook food there)r under most backward classes. i am all for brahmins to become obcs/sc/sts by passing a decree that no one should marry within brahmins (consider it like same gothra)and caste based reservation will die its own death.our extended family has helped so many brahmin next gen come under the reserved category
chennai, India
Aug 17, 2010
07:26 PM
Dear Ganapathi,

when I said I've read a lot of pro and anti Gandhi literature, that includes the ones you quoted above. Let me also tell you that you'd find a quote by Gandhi in a Gujarati article around early 1920s against widow remarriage.

Gandhi has been a good servant of British empire and got an award for assisting the British army before turning against them.
Boston, United States
Aug 17, 2010
07:24 PM
How come OBC is linked to caste. next why OBC are different in different state. Why punjab dont have OBC. Why same caste is marked as OBC in one state and forward in another. Why TN have more OBC than other states. Let ganapathi come up with a answer.

I always wonder what ganapathi is planning to do with bramhins? dump in sea?
Indore, India
Aug 17, 2010
07:11 PM
dear selvan
know about gandhi s opinion on blacks as quoted in arundhati roy a reactionary blog
Gandhi as a racist towards Blacks during his time in South Africa and his identifying with the white colonialists.

Here are some of the quotes he made during the time:

Though Gandhi was strongly opposed to the comingling of races, the working-class Indians did not share his distaste. There were many areas where Indians, Chinese, Coloured, Africans and poor whites lived together. On February 15 1905, Gandhi wrote to Dr. Porter, the Medical Officer of Health, Johannesburg (CW. IV p.244, and "Indian Opinion" 9 April 1904):

"Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian location should be chosen for dumping down all kaffirs of the town, passes my comprehension.

Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population, and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen."

Dr. Porter replied that it was the Indians who sub-let to Africans.

Commenting on the White League's agitation, Gandhi wrote in his Indian Opinion of September 24 1903:

"We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do, only we believe that they would best serve these interests, which are as dear to us as to them, by advocating the purity of all races, and not one alone. We believe also that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race."

Again, on December 24 1903, Indian Opinion stated:

"The petition dwells upon `the comingling of the coloured and white races'. May we inform the members of the Conference that so far as British Indians are concerned, such a thing is particularly unknown. If there is one thing which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is the purity of type."

Addressing a public meeting in Bombay on Sept. 26 1896 (CW II p. 74), Gandhi said:

"Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness."

In 1904, he wrote (CW. IV p. 193):

"It is one thing to register natives who would not work, and whom it is very difficult to find out if they absent themselves, but it is another thing -and most insulting -to expect decent, hard-working, and respectable Indians, whose only fault is that they work too much, to have themselves registered and carry with them registration badges."

In its editorial on the Natal Municipal Corporation Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 18 1905 wrote:

"Clause 200 makes provision for registration of persons belonging to uncivilized races (meaning the local Africans), resident and employed within the Borough. One can understand the necessity of registration of Kaffirs who will not work, but why should registration be required for indentured Indians who have become free, and for their descendants about whom the general complaint is that they work too much? (Italic portion is added) "

The Indian Opinion published an editorial on September 9 1905 under the heading, "The relative Value of the Natives and the Indians in Natal". In it Gandhi referred to a speech made by Rev. Dube, a most accomplished African, who said that an African had the capacity for improvement, if only the Colonials would look upon him as better than dirt, and give him a chance to develop self-respect. Gandhi suggested that "A little judicious extra taxation would do no harm; in the majority of cases it compels the native to work for at least a few days a year." Then he added:

"Now let us turn our attention to another and entirely unrepresented community-the Indian. He is in striking contrast with the native. While the native has been of little benefit to the State, it owes its prosperity largely to the Indians. While native loafers abound on every side, that species of humanity is almost unknown among Indians here."

Nothing could be further from the truth, that Gandhi fought against Apartheid, which many propagandists in later years wanted people to believe. He was all in favour of continuation of white domination and oppression of the blacks in South Africa.

In the Government Gazette of Natal for Feb. 28 1905, a Bill was published regulating the use of fire-arms by the natives and Asiatics. Commenting on the Bill, the Indian Opinion of March 25 1905 stated:

"In this instance of the fire-arms, the Asiatic has been most improperly bracketed with the natives. The British Indian does not need any such restrictions as are imposed by the Bill on the natives regarding the carrying of fire-arms. The prominent race can remain so by preventing the native from arming himself. Is there a slightest vestige of justification for so preventing the British Indian?"
Iqram Jahaz
Jaipur, India
i will get u the details of gandhis views on widow remarriage and intercaste marriage from his publishings
chennai, India
Aug 17, 2010
05:36 PM
Dear Ganapathi,

Oh BTW, I read an interesting article in "Tamizhar kannottam" one of the "Dravidian propaganda" pieces that you quoted earlier and respect.

This talks about how Brahmins have extra rights to be called "Dravida" than others.. he..he.. Do some independent reading and indulge in independent thinking and do not get taken in by "brainwashing".

If some one says Gandhi is 'casteist' and against "inter caste marriages" / "widow remarriages" etc.. ask for proof. Do not blindly believe. You are no better than "religious" folks who believe in religious stories. Any "rationalist" would ask for evidence and proof.
Boston, United States
Order by
Order by
Short Takes
click for more
recent tags
Barack Obama
Minority & Religious
Mobile Phones
Religious Discrimination
Science & Technology
A. Sanzgiri
Boria Majumdar
Dipsikha Thakur
Dr Mohammad Taqi
Freya Dasgupta
G. Rajaraman
K.V. Bapa Rao
Landing Lights
Maheshwer Peri
Namrata Joshi
Omar Ali
Our Readers Write Back
Outlook Web Desk
Outlook Web Desk
Prachi Pinglay-Plumber
Prarthna Gahilote
Shefalee Vasudev
Srishti Gupta
Sundeep Dougal
Sunil Menon
recent comments
The launch of the second volume of President Pranab...
Poll Started on: Feb 05, 2016
After an initial sighting some years ago, the Zika...
Siddhartha Mishra


OUTLOOK TOPICS:    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
Or just type in a few initial letters of a topic: