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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 1, p. 323.


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VI] ETHNOLOGY AND CASTE 323
has been brought to notice only in recent years; the inquiries
instituted in connexion with the Census have added materially
to our knowledge of the subject; and special attention is being
given to it in the Ethnographic Survey now being conducted in
all British Provinces and the more important Native States. At
the bottom of the social system, as understood by the average
Hindu, we find, mainly in the Dravidian regions of India,
a large body of tribes and castes each of which is broken up
into a number of totemistic septs. Each sept bears the name
of an animal, a tree, a plant, or of some material object, natural
or artificial, which the members of that sept are prohibited
from tilling, eating, cutting, burning, carrying, using, &c.; and
the members of such a sept may not intermarry. In short,
totemistic exogamy prevails in India on a fairly large scale and
is still in active operation.
In a country where the accident of birth determines irre- Classifica-
vocably the whole course of a man's social and domestic tion of
relations, and he must throughout life eat, drink, dress, marry,
and give in marriage in accordance with the usages of the com-
munity into which he was born, one is tempted at first sight to
assume that the one thing that he may be expected'to know
with certainty, and to disclose without much reluctance, is the
name of the caste, tribe, or nationality to which he belongs. As
a matter of fact, no column in the Census schedule displays a
more bewildering variety of entries, or gives so much trouble
to the enumerating and testing staff and to the central offices
which compile the results. If the person enumerated gives the
name of a well-known tribe, such as Bhil or Santal, or of
a standard caste like Brahman or Kayasth, all is well. But he
may belong to an obscure caste from the other end of India; he
may give the name of a sect, of a sub-caste, of an exogamous
sept or section, of a hypergamous group; he may mention
some titular designation which sounds finer than the name of
his caste; he may describe himself by his occupation, or by
the Province or tract of country from which he comes. These
various alternatives, which are far from exhausting the possi-
bilities of the situation, undergo a series of transformations at
the hands of the more or less illiterate enumerator who writes
them down in his own vernacular, and the abstractor in the
central office who transliterates them into English. Then
begins a laborious and most difficult process of sorting,
referencing, cross-referencing, and corresponding with local
authorities, which ultimately results in the compilation of the
Census Table XIII, showing the distribution of the inhabitants
Y2



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