Punjab Research Group

Harish K. Puri, ‘The Scheduled Castes in the Sikh Community – A Historical Perspective’

Posted in Articles by Pippa on June 2, 2009

East Punjab is a Sikh majority state. After its re-organisation in 1966, (when the Hindi speaking areas were separated to constitute the new state of Haryana and some of the hill areas were transferred to Himachal Pradesh), the religious composition of the state was radically altered. The Sikhs constituted 63 per cent of the state’s population at present. Their share in the rural population is higher; about 72 per cent. The Dalits or the Scheduled Castes have a high proportion of population in the state, 28.3 percent in 1991 which is projected to have increased to over 30 percent in 2001, the highest among the states in India. Over 80 per cent of them lived in the rural areas.  Punjab’s villages are, therefore, predominantly Sikh and Dalit. An understanding of the status of the Scheduled Castes in the Sikh community in particular, and the impact of Sikhism on dalits in Punjab in general, should help us in appreciation of  the regional specificity of the status and conditions of life of the Scheduled Castes in the state as also the limitations of the book view of caste.

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