The report that there are sharp divisions within the Group of Ministers on the enumeration of caste in the 2011 Census (July 2) exposes the conflict between vote bank politics and good governance. The votaries of vote bank politics are trying to pass the buck to political parties in spite of the fact that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has committed himself to including caste enumeration in the census.
Good governance should be based on the requirements of the governed, not political parties. The government has only two options — do away with all forms of reservation or modify reservation on the basis of current data. We expect the Prime Minister to keep his word. Caste census should be published and acted upon.
Factual data are necessary for taking the right decisions. Caste is a reality in our society. It cannot be ignored. A government that suppresses facts lest the disclosure may give rise to unreasonable demands that it may not be able to resist lawfully is not worth its salt.
The enumeration of even plants and animals with details of their species has been done for the overall development of life on earth. What is wrong in registering the name of a person's caste in the national database? Development plans need data. The massive census operation must register the caste details because scientists, statisticians, bureaucrats, intellectuals and politicians need the data for their use.
Insofar as the Constitution is committed to equality of opportunity, it is important for us to track the socio-economic progress of persons from other backward classes. Without such information we would never know the gap between promise and its realisation. The information is required to plan interventions for those who experience discrimination on the multiple parameters of caste and disability.