The research presents a political study of caste enumeration and aims at understanding the politics that informs census making, which in turn shapes affirmative action policies in India. The debate surrounding the caste census and the idea of caste enumeration (for both the upper-caste and the disadvantaged group) is used as an entry point to understand the role ideological affiliations play in census policy. The premise is set up by mapping out key historical events that have shaped the understanding of caste categories. Under the backdrop of the current political landscape in India, which is governed by a right-wing populist party, different political actors and groups are situated within the debate on caste enumeration. It facilitates in providing a deeper and critical analysis of the political and social processes that are at play. By applying the concept of castelessness, the research paper unpacks the political underpinnings that shape the differing opinions regarding caste enumeration. The research shows how castelessness manifests in the political and policy discourse by bringing the question of “upper-caste” power and privileges to the forefront. In doing so, it uncovers BJP’s politics that have rendered upper-caste privileges invisible while simultaneously co-opting the disadvantaged group.

, , , , , , , , , ,
Fischer, Andrew
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Maitra, Moubani. (2021, December 17). Modi-fying caste in India: politics of caste enumeration and implications for affirmative action policies. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from