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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 28, July 3, 2010

Caste Census of India 2011?—Justification and Objective for Braking Caste

Saturday 10 July 2010, by A K Biswas

In existence as an intractable institution since immemorial, caste is based on divine authority of unchallengeable sanctity. The Rig Vedas propounded it. Manu, Yajnavalkya, Parasara and many others trumpeted it in earshattering pitch. Every scripture, mythological fiction and ancient epic adopted this pre-ordained line and parroted it. As foot soldiers, sages and seers were in the forefront in preaching messages of divinity of caste across India. Given this historical background, the present generation’s escapism to bring caste on record in the 21st century after 1931 appears inexplicable, if not paradoxical, intriguing and suspicious. Why an institution so assiduously built and nursed has suddenly fallen from the grace of the same people? It points to a paradox.

Gandhiji advocated Caste

DWELLING on the benefits caste bestows, Mahatma Gandhi took a swipe at the Western world. “Those countries have not derived from caste system,” says the Mahatma, “the same degree of advantages which India has derived.”1 Among the Western scholars, there were a few admirers of caste. An ICS officer, and judge of the Calcutta High Court in nineteenth century, Sir George Birdwood, observes: “So long as the Hindoos hold to the caste system, India will remain India; but from the day they break from it, there will be no more India. That glorious peninsula will be degraded to the position of a bitter ‘East End’ of the Anglo-Saxon Empire.”2 (Italicised by this writer)

The Indian attitude to drop caste as a hot potato from the high tables of enumeration is not only strange but is against history and scriptural instructions. The intellectual class in the country has, since sometime, persistently dinned into the ears of the public that caste is bad. They attacked caste as retrograde and a symbol of primitive mental make-up and outlook. But when the victims of caste voiced the demand for the caste count in the census they are overtaken by surprise. The antagonists of the caste census are some of the persons who are basically known by their superior status in the hierarchy of the caste they decry. Some organisations too, with a narrow Hindu-centric agenda, have taken up cudgels against caste. They feel that caste is divisive, shameful and baneful. This is doubtlessly true. Millions of victims, all at the bottom of the society, over centuries would vouch for it. Strange is that the critics see it today. They argue that the caste count will arraign Indians into warring camps, disturbing social peace and solidarity and thwart national progress. In fact, speaking plainly, caste is a cancer.

But if India is not caste-free, why should the caste count be a menace or anathema to the authorities? Every inch of India is vitiated by caste and its venom. And this is the biggest challenge to the country. The Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, a few days before he demitted the high office, said that caste has become sophisticated.3 Sophistication, in other words, is a gloss over the reality aiming at deception. A journalist in Koderma, Jharkhand was killed by her mother because the fellow journalist she wanted to marry was of low origin.4 The fate of a Dalit and a tribal all over India finds microscopic media reflection in terms of actual challenges they encounter every day in every sphere of life. The police in general do not record cases of atrocities against them. The underlying media jab, dominated by upper castes, at backward political classes should not escape any sensitive mind and careful eye.

Indeed the cancer of caste has been corroding the Indian social fabric and national foundation. When diagnosed as such on all hands, there is no use hiding the terminal disease. Strong intervention alone can cure the malaise. Else it will continue as usual to eat into the vitals of the nation. Therefore, the cancer has to be exposed to surgery for cure. There is little justification to shy away from a head count of the sufferers. Centuries before the census started, caste made its presence felt on the socio-cultural life of Indians—dividing them vertically as well as horizontally. The social vivisection has no justification. But then that’s the Hindu way.

Those who argue against the caste count actually favour the dreadful disease to survive beyond watchful eyes with a long life. Those who talk or think that caste is a dying institution are either ignorant of the truth or themselves bene-ficiaries of the vicious institution and so are interested parties for its survival ad infinitum. These antagonists of caste enumeration are afraid to face the realities of life—tens of millions live under the carcinogenic shadows of caste. They are miserable, degraded, despised and disadvantaged. They want it to end immediately.

A body, called the Hindu Council of UK, of late has spearheaded a propaganda that the colonial rule was solely responsible for casteisation of the Indian society! A report of the Council held in 2009 that “the caste system had been created by the British during their colonial rule in India”,5 a blatant lie hardly any found objectionable save and except some UK-based Dalit groups. In fact, the Hindus have been spewing the venom of caste in their adopted home, making the lives of dalits miserable there as their country cousins back home. We all know the truth is otherwise. There could be grains of truth in such contention if caste did not exist as a hydraheaded monster prior to the arrival of the British colonists. To blame the erstwhile colonial rulers is escapism again to challenge the malignancy. In fact, the alien rulers did not interfere in the social or religious customs of the Hindus, Muslims or any other denominations. They allowed free play to the respective customs and practices enjoined and/or sanctioned by the scriptures of the Indians at large. Contemporary Indians had lauded it as a grand state policy. But this does not mean that they favoured or attached sanctity to caste.

The colonial government employed native law officers, Hindus as well as Muslims, in courts. Well-versed in respective theologies, salaried moulvies and Brahmin pundits in large numbers in various courts thus helped the presiding officers steer clear of infringement of or conflict with respective theological dogmas. The government in Fort William depended for advice on theologists of Sanskrit College, Calcutta or Benares and Calcutta or Madras. A historical instance may be cited to drive home the point.

Prayer for Entry by Low Caste into Sanskrit College, Calcutta Frowned

THE goldsmith caste or Sonar Bania/ Subarnabanik—a wealthy and educated class—of Bengal sought permission for admission into the Sanskrit College, Calcutta in 1855. G. Gordon Young, ICS, Director of Public Instructions, Bengal, consulted Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar for advice. An acclaimed social reformer and educationist, Vidyasagar curtly opposed the proposal on the ground that the goldsmiths “in the scale of caste stand very low”6 in Bengal!! The educationist in Pandit Vidyasagar blatantly succumbed to the dictates of caste. Hitherto the Baidyas and Kayasthas enjoyed the honour and privilege of admission and study of Sanskrit alongside the Brahmans there. The government little later, however, brushed aside the Pandit’s advice and opened the doors of the Sanskrit College to all and sundry, irrespective of caste, for their moral and material progress. Thus an inclusive action of the alien government ended the exclusive, caste-centric privilege at public cost for the Bengali tri-castes, euphemistically hailed as bhadralok.

A French Nobel Laureate, Romain Rolland, says that saint and seer Ramakrishna Paramhamsa (1836-1886) was “very strict in all questions relating to caste”.7 Landlord Rani Rashmani (1793-1861), a Kaibartta by caste, had built the famous Dakshineshwar temple in the suburb of Calcutta at a cost of Rs 900,000 in 1855 over 60 acres of land. The British Mackintosh Company was engaged for the job. Rani Rashmani donated the Salbari zamindari, an enormous estate of 449 square miles in Dinajpur district (now in Bangladesh), as debottar for meeting expenses on account of maintenance and daily expenses of the shrine. The estate had cost her a sum of Rs 2,25,000.8 Ironically, the zamindar was denied entry into the temple she had built on the day its inauguration. She was a fisherwoman. This temple propelled Ramakrishna in a spiritual odyssey as a guru.

Census and Caste: Insinuations at Caste Indians Did Not Understand

ALONGSIDE enumeration of people by religion as well as caste, the census authorities had collected and compiled data on four specific diseases between 1881 and 1911: blindness, deaf and mutism, insanity and leprosy. This aspect of the colonial exercise never received focus in the sociological discourses in India. Leprosy has since ancient times been held as a dreadful disease in India, forcing its victims to live a painful segregated life till date. According to the Caraka-Samhita, “Unfaithfulness of speech, ingratitude, blasphemy against the gods, derision of the elders, sinful actions, the accumulated evil acts of past lives and antagonistic diet are the causative factors of leprosy.”9 Whether these causative factors stand scientific scrutiny or not should not engage us in any deliberations. In 1891, the Census Superintendent of Bengal, C.J. O’Donnell, ICS, had compiled huge mass of data on those diseases. While analysing them, he made certain observations vis-a-vis caste that call our attention and interest. Given half an opportunity, the colonial rulers avidly relished denunciation of caste. Their reports of census, administrative reports, district and imperial gazetteers, famine commissions, survey and settlements—all bear testimony to it. But Indians, it seems, failed to understand, quantify or determine the depth of their artful sarcasm. They wantonly repudiated the dogma of scriptures. We will cite a few colonial diatribes at caste.

The census report discloses that in West Bengal “the proportion of lepers was high for all castes than in Eastern Bengal. Bhuimali, Bediya, Bauri and Khairas were most afflcited.” He adds: “This disease is, however, far from being confined to the lower orders. Indeed such castes as Doms, Bagdis, Kaoras and Chandals are more free from it (leprosy) than Brahmans and Sadgops, whilst the three great tribes of Santals, Kaibarttas and Pods are vert rarely afflicted.”10 (Italicised by the writer) Bhuimali, Bediya, Bauri and Khaira, assigned very low social order of precedence in Bengal, had the unenviable incidence of leprosy. But Doms, Bagdis, Kaoras and Chandals, equally rated and hated, were, surprisingly, freer from leprosy than Brahmans and Sadgops. And the Santals, Kaibarttas and Pods, who too were not held in esteem, had a sparkling record of sound health in comparison to the priestly class, a miracle people shy away to highlight. No more outrageous a denunciation at caste could ever be recorded in India than presenting Brahmans in hue darker than Santals, Kaibattas, Pods, Doms, Chandals and Kaoras! If the Caraka-Samhita was taken seriously, the position Bengali Brahman lepers vis-a-vis others inferior to them obtained was inexplicable. Their fizzy scriptural predominance, as a result, stood molested. And as a community, only the Santals denied the auhtority of the Vedas.11 The colonial census, respected all over the globe, showed them in incandescent light than the preistly class. Morbidity did not allow Indians to appreciate the colonial recrimination at caste obsessiveness

Communal Overtone in Census Office

THE communal overtone in dealing with data on the part of the Hindu compilers did not escape notice of the authorities. Citing his personal experience, O’Donnell records:

Mussalmans seemed in excess in all infirmities till the figures came to be studied in order to the writing of this report. It then appeared that, although excellent statistics had been sent in from districts, one of the Hindu compilers thought he saw an opportunity of branding the followers of the Prophet with the stigma of so many failings of human nature. I was first startled by discovering that over three hundred Sayyids had been entered as lepers in Burdwan district, and further investigation made it plain that in nineteen districts this man had entirely disregarded the district returns and had concocted out of his own hand purely imaginary figures, by which the mass of the afflicted under every infirmity were shown as Mussalmans.12

The first census returned some 3000 Sayyids. Incidence of leprosy afflicting them in the district would have left them tainted forever. The census in 1871 drafted zamindari servants for example, naibs, gomastas, tahsildars, muharars, chawkidars, piadas etc. as enumerators. 13 Their integrity were open to suspicion and susceptible to influence.

Caste in Deaf and Mutism

O’DONNELL, referring to deaf and mutism, says: “The two great tribes of Babhans and Dusadhs, one belonging to the upper classes and the other to the lowest social rank, come together at the bottom of the list of least affected in all parts of Bihar.”14 Of 100,000 persons 158 male and 80 female Dusadhs as against 142 male and 59 Babhan females were deaf and mute in North Bihar. Interestingly, with 60 males and 45 females respectively, the Musahars, in comparison, were a lot less afflicted with this infirmity. They occupy the lowest ladder in the social hierarchy of castes and are least developed till date.15 Babhans are now called Bhumihars. That they were as susceptible to deaf and mutism as the Dusadh did not enhance their stature in the ethos in Bihar. The Musahars with more luminous record in comparison were too galling ever to the dignity and pride of the Bhumihars in the comity of castes.

But L.S.S. O’Malley, Superintendent of Census Operations in Bengal in 1911, had the last word on this aspect.

This part of census work is regarded especially by the better classes as an unfair inquisition. They are by no means inclined to give the enumerator an insight into their family troubles and their reluctance is all the greater in the case of their women, more particularly daughters of marriageable age.16

The data on all these diseases in the high end of the society were decidedly defective as they refused to share information with the government officials.17 It is, therefore, natural to conclude that truthful disclosures of diseases would have portrayed the classes perhaps with far darker hues, repugnant to their stature and reputation. And how refreshing to know that Santals, Kaibattas, Pods, Doms, Chandals and Kaoras had glowing health cards. They never had the courage to deny information required by government agencies.

Caste in Plague

PLAGUE had devastated large parts of India over three decades during 1897 to 1930 and claimed some four-to-five crore lives in India. It spared none, big or small, high or low, rich or poor. But the Deputy Commissioner of Ambala Maynard reported to the government something unthinkable. According to him, “Brahmans generally died like flies when plague got among them.” Pinpointing the reasons, the ICS senior officer writes further: “both Brahmans and Banias suffered severely because they spend so much time, nearly naked and showless, exposing the large surface of unprotected body.”18 The Chief Medical Officer of Punjab records, on the other hand, that “fatality among Muhammadans was very nearly the same among Chamars and sweepers, all being meat-eating classes.” Presenting an overview, the highest provincial medical authority adds: “The classes that suffered most from plague—as judged by the fatality of attacks—were high caste Hindus, Brahmins, Rajputs and Khatris being included in the term, among whom the percentage of fatalities of attacks of plague was 72.27 per cent.”19 Muhammadans suffered lot less than all Hindus taken together. Their mortality was 66.33 per cent as against the Chamars whose 64.11 per cent fell victims to the plague attacks.20

Census exposed Promiscuity focusing Caste

IT is a matter of interest to know that in 30 years (1901-1931) the Bengali Kayasthas multiplied by 58.3 per cent, a record no caste or religious community with higher fecundity ever achieved.21 It was a very steep rise and demographic wonder of sorts for Kayasthas who registered a 3.93 per cent decline between 1872 and 1901.22 The mystery lies in large scale infiltration of men into the fold of Kayasthas from the lower strata. This is a fact little focused in academic discourses. Sudras, a caste peculiar to Bengal, were wholesale returned and integrated into the body as Kayasthas. They, however, are different from the Sudra who emerged out of the feet of the Creator as enunciated, by interpolation, in Purusha Shukta of the Rig Veda. The Sudras were 2,35,000 in 1891 and 1,49,000 in 1911. This decline in their numbers is reflected in corresponding rise in the strength of the Kayasthas. Pointing to their origin, anthropologist and Superintendent of Bengal Census Operations in 1901, H.H. Risley, says that the Sudras “descended from masters of good caste; also called Goolam or Goolam Kayasthas.” So, the Bengali Sudras were also known as Goolam or Goolam Kayasthas.23 The same authority adds that “in Chittagong there are said to be two classes of Sudras, viz., Pushpanjali or Phulanjalia, who descended from the maid servants by their Kayastha masters, and Hangutia, who are the offsprings the widows.24

Goolam Kayasthas’ Oriya counterpart Shagirdpesha

PROBING deeper, Risley found that the “number of Sudras in the Dacca and Chittagong Divisions is now greater by 62,000 than in 1891. The addition of this number to the Kayasthas of these Divisions would result in an increment of nine per cent.25 In fairness, we note that the other respectable castes too in East Bengal had fathered bastards in the shameful and immoral same way; but none matched the Kayasthas in courage to admit them into their ranks with dignity. The Goolam Kayasthas had their counterparts in Orissa called Shagirdpesha. Unmarried young girls, who were gifted as part of dowry, shared beds with the bridegroom in Orissa. This practice prevailed among the Chiefs, raja and large zamindars besides the Karans. Their concubines numbered up to 50, 60 even 100.26

What an exposure to depravity and sexual immorality of caste! No maid servant—widows or wives with husband living—escaped sexual harrassment and exploitation in their workplace. Almost every home of the masters in sprawling Dacca and Chittagong divisions was the graveyard for the modesty of their maid servants. It is no imagination that tempests were blowing through homes of the good castes, the victims being the maid servants, who gave birth to armies of illegitimate children and designated them as Sudra, a fulfledged Goolam Kayastha caste in East Bengal or Shagirdpesha in Orissa. The wives of good castes were hapless witnesses to the promiscuity of unprecedented scale before their eyes under the same roof they lived. This tragedy in domestic life remained beyond the frame of literary fiction, though Bengal is proud of that era. A culture and cult of bastardism is on record as a standing obloquy at the legacy of bastardism of the Kayasthas and Karans, whose educational achievements and cultural refinements are laudable!

Dr B.R. Ambedkar candidly believed that the best social history of India was written in the colonial census reports.

Change of Caste Nomenclatures

DURING 1901 and 1931 almost every caste in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa had launched a movement for a change of respective caste nomenclatures. Their representations before the government in support of their claims for new name weighed 1.5 maunds! The agitators included Baidyas and Kayastha Kayasthas of Bengal besides the Babhans of Bihar. The Baidyas wanted to be redesignated as Brahman or Baidya Brahman, Kayasthas as Kshatriyas; and Babhan as Bhumihar Brahman or Brahmaharshi Brahman, Kshatriya Brahmans, etc. Their representations, one and all, were thrown to the trashcan. Only the Chandals were notified as Namasudra and Kaibarttas as Mahishyas in 1911. The Patna High Court in 1924, incidentally, declared Kayasthas of Bihar as Kshatriya27 whereas their Bengali counterparts continued to be Sudras, notwithstanding strenuous and orchestrated propaganda by large dedicated bands of landlords, lawyers and barristers, teachers and professors, government servants, including ICS and Bengal Civil Service Officers, and literary campaigners. Their marriage with Doms was declared valid by the Calcutta High Court as both were members of same Sudra community.28

The craze for change of caste nomenclatures by the high and mighty for acquiring higher grades must have entertained the colonial masters no end. But then the Baidyas, Kayasthas and Bhumihars seeking favours of the Imperial authorities must not fail to amuse post-independent Indians too either by opposing or criticising caste as retrograde and backward. They, besides the Brahmans and Kshatriyas, have no reason to be unhappy with caste as they receive instant recognition in many spheres as shunning the caste tag.

Manipulation of Caste Data

AT the other end of the spectrum, the returns suffered manipulation at the hands of the motivated enumerators. The Scheduled Castes were hacked by Hindus and Muslims to swell their respective ranks by two crores, though their respective shares could not be ascertained. This found critical expression in the debates of the Constituent Assembly of India. On Wednesday August 27, 1947, H.J. Khandekar, a representative from C.P. & Berar, told the august House, inter alia, that “If we review the period between the census of 1911 and that of 1941, we discover that India’s population has reached the figure of 40 crores. I want to place before you a fact which you all know that the Scheduled Castes belong to the lower strata which is in no way behind higher classes, in respect of increasing its numbers. If one child is born to a caste Hindu then four are born to a Scheduled Caste Hindu but it is very sad and surprising that the population of Scheduled Castes has been decreasing since 1931. I do not know why it is so.”29 However, the secrets behind the decline in population was revealed by the same member. “When we sought the reason for it we discovered that in the 1941 census in the provinces of Bengal and Bihar some of our Muslim brethren got the Scheduled Castes registered as Muslims on the one hand and Caste Hindus got them registered as Hindus on the other. And this is the reason why ever since the 1931 Census our population has been continuously declining and in the 1941 census the strength of Scheduled Castes was less than in the 1931 Census by 2 crores.”30

The Scheduled Castes and Tribes have maintained almost the same proportion to the total population over decades. This suggests a higher level strategic manipulations in their population returns to keep their proportion to the total static and unchanged. Once J.B. Kripalani (1888-1982) had jocularly described childbirth in India as a cottage industry and the very home a factory. This is nowhere truer than for the poor, who indulge in sex as the only source of recreation/entertainment. The rich and educated people are careful about adding new members to their family without adequate forethoughts regarding upbringing and wellbeing of the newcomers. This ensures lower birth rate in the higher end of the society than in the lower end.

Crime and Caste: A Fertile Field Outside Frame

THE census authorities collected data on crimes, again by caste, with illuminating results. “The number of Mussalman and Hindu convicts in Bengal is almost exactly proportionate to their strength in the population and it cannot be said that either community has a particular propensity to crime. The largest number of Hindu criminals are Kayasthas and Brahmans.” This needs to be substantiated by demonstrating hard facts from unassailable official record. “The largest number of Hindu criminals are Kayasthas and Brahmans” asserted the Census Superintendent, “representing 7 Kayasthas and 4 Brahmans” per 10,000 respectively, serving jail sentences in 1911.31

But the blame has been conveniently put on others’ shoulders. For instance, a bhadralok editor of The Statesman, Calcutta, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, characteristically blamed Namasudras for “West Bengal’s politico-criminal underworld”.32 We know nowadays governments do not compile crimes by caste or community. But the powerful English daily was used as a vehicle of hate campaign against a community who are educationally backward and politically unorganised to articulate their dissent against the malicious propaganda targeting them. The Government of Bengal in 1871-72 reported that 1552 Kayasthas and 1522 Brahman convicts were serving jail sentences. Out of a total of 35,336 convicts, Kayasthas represented 6.1 per cent and Brahmans six per cent serving various terms of sentences. The Brahmans accounted for 3.75 per cent and Kayasthas 2.39 per cent of the province’s population. In contrast, the Chandals, who were redesignated as Namasudra in 1911, accounted for 2.45 per cent population and furnished 1.5 per cent convicts. The Rajputs, though accounted for 1.6 per cent population, were 1.9 per cent of the convicts.33 The allegations as criminal tribes against lower castes are more of concoction and malicious nature than based on facts and factors playing a hidden role. Caste again got sound drubbing at the hands of the colonial rulers.

Whenever human passions, emotions, immorality or avarice got opportunity for free play, the sense of pride and superiority received unqualified castigation, bringing unalloyed shame on the high end of the caste hierarchy. The lower orders had acquitted themselves off much cleaner and more admirably. The same were not noted, much less appreciated, by their countrymen.

India is a land of saints and seers, avatars, godmen and godwomen. Many of them, besides the scriptural authorities, upheld caste as divine and propagated the dogma. They have never tried to uproot this cancer. Many, in fact, contributed wholesomely to its perpetuation. Caste has to be challenged frontally. If shied away or sweeped under the carpet, the privileges certain castes enjoy will persist for eternity. These are, however, the vocal critics of caste enumeration. They have a vested interest that caste is not counted. The caste count, to them, means asking the saint, seers and great men including scriptural authorities to walk on their heads. It as well means they are ashamed of their powerful caste-centric advocacies.

W.H. Thompson, who superintended the census operations of Bengal in 1921, made certain insightful observations. He was sure that the Hindus would stop caste enumeration sooner or later. But stopping enumeration of caste would not mean the end of caste. He felt that caste enumeration was essential to ascertain the sectoral progress of the Hindus, who are divided into unbridgeable gaps and compartments. If holistic development was ever to be achieved, caste enumeration was unavoidable. Else the country would move forward with pockets of dark areas and vast sections would remain perennially susceptible to vulnerability, to be exploited by the so-called progressive sections to their advantage. Actually these are the people most vocal against caste enumeration. So, the backward classes have a vested interest in blowing up and blasting the bastion of caste to end its overpowering vices and unrequited privileges harvested by handful people. The country would stand to gain far more on the graveyard of caste than in the backyard of caste. Census, therefore, is necessary to understand who stand where and the miles the country has yet to cover.


1. Writings and Speeches of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Vol.
9, Government of Maharashtra, p. 287.

2. Nehru, Jawaharlal, The Discovery of India, Oxford University Press, Third Impression, 1986, p. 247.

3. “The prejudices are on the increase. It may not be visible on the surface, for the prejudices are more sophisticated now. I have suffered caste prejudices.” The Times of India, January 11, 2010, p. 7.

4. Innumerable media reports (print and electronic) for good many days in May 2010 informed the readers and/or viewers that Nirupama Pathak was a Brahmin whereas her fiancée, a Kayasth from Darbhanga, Bihar.


6. Benoy Ghosh, Vidyasagar O Bengali Samaj (Bengali), Orient Longman, Calcutta, 1973, p. 545.

7. Romain Rolland, The Life of Ramakrishna, Calcutta, sixth edition, 1960, p. 27.

8. Sipra Biswas, Anweshan (Bengali), Calcutta, 1996, p. 10.

9. Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, Science and Society in Ancient India, Research India Publication, Calcutta, First published in 1977, first reprint 1979, p. 398.

10. Census of India, 1891, Vol. III, The Lower Provinces of Bengal and their Feudatories, Report, p. 249.

11. Census of India, 1911, Vol. VI, Part I Report, p. 232.

12. Ibid., p. 240.

13. According to the Report of Census of Bengal, 1872, “In Burdwan the enumerators were generally the head of the villages, called munduls. In other cases the zamindars’ gomashtas were employed. The respectable men other than the munduls who were employed with the munduls constitute what the Magistrate calls the village panchayets.....Among the enumerators were were 266 schoolmasters and 126 servants of municipalities.” p. 13

14. Ibid., p. 246.

15. Ibid.

16. Census of India 1911, Vol. V, Part I, p. 408.

17. The USA had drafted 670 Field Marshals at a cost of $ 45,000 for ensuring perfection and accuracy in enumeration of data in its first census operations undertaken in 1790. They went on horse back from house to house across the USA over a year. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the then Secretary of State, had overseen the entire exercise.

18. Report on Plague in the Punjab from October 1, 1901 to September 30, 1902 being the fifth season of plague in the Province, Lahore, 1904, p. 30.

19. Ibid., p. 14.

20. Ibid., pp. 14-15.

21. Census of India 1931, vol. I, Bengal and Sikkim, Part I Report, p. 492. The Bengali Kayasthas aggregated at 9,48,443 persons in 1901; 11,13,684 in 1911; 12,97,736 in 1921 but shot to 15,58,475 in 1931. During the same period larger castes, for example, Namasudras rose from 18,48,483 in 1901 to 20,94,957 in 1931 (21.9 per cent); Mahishyas from 19,52,794 to 23,81,266 (13.3 per cent); and the Brahmans from 11,66,919 to 14,47,691 (24.1 per cent). But the Rajbansi community declined from 18,98,241 to 18,06,390 (4.8 per cent).

22. Census of India 1901, Vol. VI, Report Part I, p. 460.

23. Ibid., p. xiii.

24. Ibid., p. 384.

25. Ibid., p. 392.

26. Census of India 1911, Vol. V, Report Part I, pp. 325-326.

27. I.L.R. 6 Patna 506.

28. (1916) 20 Cal. W. N. 901 (Asita Mohan Ghosh versus Nirode Mohan Ghosh Maulik); (192148.Cal. 616 Biswanath Ghosh versus Srimati Balai Dasi & (1924) 51 Cal. 788. Bholanath Mitter versus King Emperor.

29. Constituent Assembly of India Debates (Proceedings), Vol. V.

30. Ibid.

31. Census of India 1911, Vol V, Report Part I, p. 555.

32. Sunanda K Datta Ray, “Deceit in the East”, article in The Statesman, Calcutta, August 6, 1989.

33. Bengal Administration Report, 1871-72, p. 106.

The author is a former Vice-Chancellor, B.R. Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He can be contacted at e-mail:

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