Its not just historical personalities,religious figures or heavenly bodies that India names its villages after. Caste groups form the basis of the names of a small fraction of the villages in most northern and central Indian states,with Uttar Pradesh ahead of the rest.
A village directory released as part of Census 2011 lists 4,00,810 villages in the 12 states and union territories of Bihar,Chhattisgarh,Haryana,Himachal Pradesh,Jharkhand,Madhya Pradesh,Orissa,Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh,Uttarakhand,Chandigarh and Delhi. An analysis by The Indian Express has found that UP,whose 1.07 lakh villages comprise just over a fourth of this total,accounts for nearly a third of those named after castes. This analysis is only for villages that take their names from popular surnames used by prominent castes.
UP has 2,865 villages named after castes,clans and sub-castes of Brahmins,Thakurs,Banias,Kayasthas,Yadavs,Jats,Gurjjars,Kurmis,Lodhas,Dalits and others,with names such as Babhanpur,Shuklaganj,Thakurai and Harijanpur. This works out to a little under three per cent of UPs 1,07,036 villages,while the other 11 states 6,017 villages with caste-based names constitute just over two per cent of their total.
UP has at least 1,159 villages that take their names from Brahmin surnames such as Babhan,Brahman,Shukla,Tewari,Mishra,Dixit,Awasthi,Agnihotri,Pandey,Pandit,Chaubey and Dubey. Rajputs/Thakurs lend their surnames,such as Tomar,Solanki,Kachhwah,Gaharwar,Chauhan,Bais and Bisen,to at least 770 villages. The Jats account for at least 265 villages,many of these named after the surname Chaudhary,while the names of 269 start with Yadav or Ahir,those of 49 with Kurmi surnames,and those of 52 with Gurjjar ones. Villages with names based on Brahmin and Thakur surnames can be found across the state,while those with names based on other castes surnames are mostly in areas dominated by the respective caste groups.
The fact that the SC/ST Atrocities Act prohibits taking the names of Dalit castes is an offence has not stopped 176 villages from naming themselves after such castes and sub-castes.
(The Indian Express restricted its analysis to 12 states,mostly in northern and central India)