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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The paper begins with a critique of the popular/Orientalist view of Indian society that conceptualizes caste in unitary terms, as a pan-Indian system, organized around the notion of varna hierarchy. Though caste is indeed a fact of life in Punjab and among the Sikhs living elsewhere, the Sikhs’ social structure has its own specificity and historicity. Even though ideas of hierarchy and untouchability have been a part of life, the Sikh religious ideology does not support caste-based social divisions. Caste in the Sikh Panth has also seen many changes over the last century. The ‘rearticulation’ of Sikh identity during the religious reform movements meant a rejection of caste, popularly viewed as a Hindu practice. Democratic politics and economic development have changed caste-based social relations.

Keywords: hierarchy, untouchability, Orientalism, Green Revolution, Ad Dharam, de-Hinduization

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