In a bookstore in delhi, a salesman, apprised of my interest in lower-caste politics, handed me a tome about the officially listed Dalit, or untouchable, groups, The Scheduled Castes (Singh 1995). The first thing to strike me was the cover, a glossy photograph of a presumably Scheduled Caste woman with her back against a tall stone wall, surrounded by her four grubby kids. She is beaming. The second thing to strike me was the title of this new series, of which this was the second volume. The series, by the central government's Anthropological Survey of India, was called the People of India, a name that had been used for several rather notorious colonial ethnographic projects. Intrigued, I began to examine this most recent avatar of the People of India.

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