In October 1985, a project was launched by The Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) called People of India. The objective of the project was to generate a brief, descriptive anthropological profile of all the communities of India, the impact of change and development processes on them and the links that bring them together.
As an outcome of the project, which was led by Shri K.S Singh, the AnSI was able to report about 6748 communities at the start. This list was taken to the field, tested and checked, and finally 4635 communities were identified and studied.
Each state and union territory was treated as a unit of study. It was decided to start with an investigation of the least known communities, and then move on to a field study of the better known ones. The project was implemented with the co-operation of the state governments through their welfare and backward classes departments, local officers of the Census of India, tribal research institutes, university departments of anthropology, other departments of local universities and other agencies.
A major achievement of this project was the preparation of cartographic maps showing the distribution of the communities and the location where they were studied. About 4000 maps were prepared. Yet another achievement was the visual documentation of the people of India as part of the field operations. About 21,362 photographs were generated, most of them in black and white, and a substantial number in colour, by amateur photographers.