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Democracy and Its Institutions$
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André Béteille

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198080961

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198080961.001.0001

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Caste and the Citizen

Caste and the Citizen

(p.122) 6 Caste and the Citizen
Democracy and Its Institutions

André Béteille

Oxford University Press

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

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