Caste and the Citizen

André Béteille

in Democracy and Its Institutions

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780198080961
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082049 | DOI:
Caste and the Citizen

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This chapter discusses the distinctive features of Indian society and how those features may be represented, focusing on the representation of India as a society of castes and communities, and as a nation of citizens. The first representation corresponds to an order sanctioned by immemorial tradition, while the second corresponds to an order expressing the aspirations of India’s political leaders at the time of independence. In India, the traditional social order was based on the primacy of kinship, caste, and community, with the individual as a citizen playing a negligible role. The ambivalence about what kind of society India is and ought to be is what gives Indian democracy a character of its own. A close association between caste and occupation had played a significant role in the maintenance of caste identities.

Keywords: society; castes; citizens; communities; India; occupation; democracy; kinship; independence; social order

Chapter.  6698 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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