02 October, 2012

Dynamics of a Caste Movement: The Rajbansis of North Bengal, 1910-1947

Dynamics of a Caste Movement: The Rajbansis of North Bengal, 1910-1947

By- Swaraj Basu

Dynamics of a Caste Movement deals with the attempts of the Rajbansi community to establish themselves as Kshatriyas in the first half of the twentieth century in Bengal. Situating the Rajbansi Caste Movement in the context of contemporary socio-political events this book examinies the complexities inherent in the movement.

The caste system, despite many changes over the years, remains significant in contemporary times. The colonization of the country and the response of indigenous society to the manoeuvres of colonial rulers provided a new impetus to mobilizations along caste lines in the nineteenth and the early twentieth century Bengal as in the rest of India.

The Rajbansis constituted the most predominant section of the local Hindu population in the districts of north Bengal, and were yet placed quite low in the hierarchy. Using Rajbansi caste literature and government records, this study explores the formation of the Rajbansi identity, the socio-cultural and economic profile of the community, their efforts towards Kshatriyaization and the legitimization of their social and political rights. The author argues that there can be many identities within a caste group which play crucial roles on different occasions and at different times. As class identity often cuts across caste lines, so also territorial identities can lead to a fragmentation of a caste.

In the context of recent political mobilization by the Rajbansis in north Bengal for a ‘separate Kamtapur state’ this book is essential reading for those wishing to understand the Rajbansis in their historical context.

Swaraj Basu is Professor in Modern History at the School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi Naitonal Open University, New Delhi.

ISBN  81-7304-509-7  2003   154p.   Rs.350/Pounds 35

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