The Union Cabinet, which meets here on Thursday, will discuss a proposal to dovetail the promised caste census with the survey to identify those living below the poverty line (BPL), government sources told The Hindu. The entire exercise should be completed by the end of this year, these sources added.

Dovetailing the two exercises will ensure that the castes enumerated can be correlated with the socio-economic data, and facilitate a more focussed targeting of the government's welfare measures.

Two views

Last September, when the Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to undertake a caste headcount, starting June 2011, after the completion of the National Population Register (NPR), there were two views on the methodology to be undertaken.

One view was correlating people's caste identities with their educational and economic status would help map the population better, thus ensuring a more accurate targeting of welfare schemes. The other was that making such connections might lead to a demand for larger quotas. Evidently, the first view has won the day.

The proposal, which will be placed before the Cabinet on Thursday comes from the Home Ministry — the nodal department for Census 2012 — and envisages that the caste census cum BPL survey will be conducted by the Registrar-General and Census Commissioner India, and the Union Ministries of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) and Rural Development (RD), sources added. While the HUPA Ministry will focus on the urban areas, the RD Ministry will survey the rural areas. Those surveyed will be asked to name their caste, but this caste data will not be cross-checked. People will be free to say “no caste” as well.

It may be recalled that in March this year, the Opposition parties had raised the issue of a caste-based Census in the Lok Sabha, prompting the government to promise that inclusion of social, education and economic status in the exercise will be considered.

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