This study presents a detailed analysis of the multifaceted struggle of the Scheduled Castes, the odyssey of their transformation from an apolitical, ostracized and indigent mass into a crucial factor in the political structure. It examines the inter-play of the forces, generated both by the British Raj and the changing complexion of the Indian national movement, which helped their emergence as a political power in India.
How was the most apposite appellation, the 'Scheduled Castes', coined? What were the measures adopted for arriving at their exact enumeration? How was it affected by the 'politics of numbers'? What was their socio-economic condition at the turn of the Century? What was its impact on the process of their politicization and political participation? How did they become an important factor both in the Indian national movement and the politics of the period? What was the pattern of their politics? How far were the ideas, strategies, and ends and means of their mentors in conflict with those of the caste Hindu leaders and the nationalists?
These are some of the basic questions this study probes and seeks to answer. All through, the study is backed by sound scholarship and critical sensitivity.
It is the firs study of its kinds in that it (i) traces the chequered career of the term 'Scheduled Castes'; (ii) conducts a province-wise survey of their socio-economic condition; (iii) examines the manipulation of Scheduled Castes' census in the game of the 'politics of numbers'; and (iv) highlights the part played by Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as also by other prominent leaders, especially, M.C. Rajah, who have hitherto remained ignored.
The work is well documented and makes use of all the available archival, official and non-official sources.
About the Author
Dr. S. K. Gupta, Associate Professor in Himanchal Pradesh University, Shimla also head the department of history in the Correspondence Courses. He has authored A Map Approach to Indian History (Simla, 1975) and four chapters to Himachal: Past, Present and Future (Simla, 1975). Presently Dr. Gupta is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and is working on his new project 'Reservations in Services - A Study in Socio-Economic and Political conditions 1920-80.'
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