The government's resolve not to include caste column in census 2011 (May 5) is commendable and it is indeed a principled decision, fully in consonance with the country's goal of a casteless society. It was deliberately dispensed with in the first census in1951 after Independence, as expressly stated by the then Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, that it was neither necessary nor desirable. Successive governments followed the same policy in all the decennial censuses since then, despite sporadic calls for the inclusion of a caste column in the post Mandal Commission phase. Castes are not uniform across the country, and the enumerator has no mechanism to verify the claims of someone belonging to a particular caste.
Universal caste-entry in census 2011, if agreed to, will be a blunder as it will indirectly and inadvertently extend a new lease of life to the horrendous caste-system.
D.G. Rama Rau,
This step is necessary to make India a caste-free, developing state. The pressure mounted by political parties has nothing to do with their concern for the oppressed/suppressed masses.
This is a firm step in the right direction, putting a check on politicians' ulterior motives. The protagonists of caste census want to see the widening of the reservation base in a bid to increase their vote bank. Reservation has failed to bridge the rich-poor divide for the past six decades. The founding fathers of the Constitution should have taken economic backwardness rather than caste backwardness for implementing reservation. The decision is commendable.
Though some differences prevailed on the issue, the government, in a wise a decision, has opted not to go in for a caste-based census. It cannot be denied that the country needs a comprehensive statistics on the various castes and sub-castes which will help in proper planning and implementation of welfare schemes for the targeted groups. However, collecting the data through the current census exercise will not be feasible since the census machinery involved is not trained to collect and ascertain caste-related data. There are chances of wrong information being provided in anticipation of benefits.
As the Prime Minister has pointed out, detailed discussions are needed and it would be appropriate if a separate survey is conducted to collect caste data.