Counting Castes

Census 2011 will be historic, and its findings will correct many dominant myths

01 June 2010
India kicked off the national census of its billion-plus population on 1 April 2010.
AP PHOTO/ANUPAM NATH
India kicked off the national census of its billion-plus population on 1 April 2010.
AP PHOTO/ANUPAM NATH

ON THE SECOND SUNDAY THIS MAY, while the sun was burning every living thing unfortunate enough to be outdoors in Delhi’s 40 degree summer, a short, thickset, government schoolteacher, armed with an umbrella and a thick register, knocked at my door. She is one of the 2.5 million enumerators on duty, carrying out one of the biggest administrative exercises in the world, the Indian Census. India is among very few countries that have conducted an unbroken chain of regular decennial censuses. The first modern census in India started in 1871, but the practice goes back as far as the Mauryan Empire (321-185 BCE).

Kundi kholo. Census keliye aaye hain (Open the door.

I’ve come about the census).” The voice had a teacher’s authority.

Vinod K. Jose is the Executive Editor of The Caravan.

Keywords: caste Manmohan Singh Vinod K Jose national census regular decennial censuses dominant myths invisibility societal movements
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