[This is one of the essays written by Dr. Ambedkar, in his book "Essays on untouchables and untouchability".
The importance of this article is the freshness, which it brings to our mind. Even though the article was written about 70-80 years back, It shows how hindus have tried every trick, in thier power, to stop the seperate census for untouchables/depressed classes and how they were using nonsensical arguments in their support. Some of them went to the extent of saying that there were no untouchables in their states.
This is very relevant in current scenario, when heated debate is going on whether the OBC need to be counted or not? Can we learn from the past?]
From millions to Fractions
What is the total population of the Untouchables of India? This is bound to be the first question that a person who cares to know anything about them is sure to ask. It is now easy to answer this question. For the Census of India taken in 1931 gives it as 50 millions. While it is possible now to give more or less exact figures of the Untouchable population in India it was not possible to do so for a long time.
This was due to various causes. Firstly untouchability is not a legal term. There is no exact legal definition of untouchability whereby it could be possible to define who is an Untouchable and who is not. Untouchability is a social concept which has become embodied in a custom and as custom varies so does untouchability. Consequently there is always some difficulty in the way of ascertaining the population of the Untouchables with mathematical exactitude.