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Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History$
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Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265314

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.001.0001

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Identity Registration in India During and After the Raj

Identity Registration in India During and After the Raj

(p.299) 11 Identity Registration in India During and After the Raj
Registration and Recognition

Ravindran Gopinath

British Academy

This chapter is essentially a history of an absence — the absence of individual identity registration in pre-colonial and colonial India. The main question that it attempts to answer is the apparent contradiction between the colonial Indian state's encyclopaedic attempts at statistical recording and the absence of individual identity registration. The colonial government, while counting and recording virtually everything from people to property to natural resources, somehow did not feel the need to register individual identity. For the Indian population, social aggregates such as caste, despite official misgivings, continued throughout the colonial period to be a proxy for individual identity. It was only with the establishment of a democratic state based on universal adult suffrage after Independence that individual identity registration developed slowly and partially.

Keywords:   India, caste, colonial, registration, pre-colonial India, Mughal, UID

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