ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Politics of Categorisation


Constitutionally drawn and validated categories have the administrative function to make social justice operational. Categories, although administrative in their form, have a normative content in them. However, categories also face a strain. Their scope can become misleading through excessive inflation or deflation. For example, the category of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) seems to be continuously rattled and deflated by those who have been making a demand for an internal subcategorisation of a constitutionally coherent SC category. The category of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), on the contrary, has also been subjected to regular inflation and saturation from time to time. From the last several years, certain non-tribal groups, for example, from Rajasthan, have been demanding inclusion in the ST category. The recent demand made by the Meiteis from Manipur form a part of the same conundrum.

In this regard, therefore, what becomes absolutely important for the purpose of gaining a constitutional, and hence legal, validity to this demand, is assessing the group’s demand of inclusion into the category under dispute. One needs to provide technically reasonable grounds for substantiating such claims for inclusion in an already existing category such as the SCs. Thus, the ST category is an approximation of enumeration, tribal culture, constraining geographical isolation, and historical marginalisation. Having been codified on such grounds, the ST category has emerged from the historically totalising vulnerability of the Adivasis in India.

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Updated On : 20th May, 2023
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