Sunday, May 23, 2010

[ZESTCaste] ‘Is caste-based census justified?’ (Letters to the editor)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'Is caste-based census justified?'

Category » Open Forum Posted On Saturday, May 22, 2010
The 2011 Indian census is a caste-based one and first time after
independence. Caste is the distinct feature of our society and it has
great relevance in India. Till date the so called liberal and modern
men opt for caste based marriages and our newspapers are filled with
caste based matrimonial advertisements. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna says
"I have created the four varnas". Varnas or caste is inherent in all
human society in one form or other. So it is good to know India in
real means through the caste-based census. Why such a hue and cry on
this subject? Perhaps the minority who enjoy the majority of
opportunities may not get their advantages as they had earlier. Today
caste-based reservation is a political issue; so survey data is needed
to monitor welfare programmes for these castes. If the census is
equipped to collect meaningful data for all castes, exclusion or
inclusion from the OBC list can be made easier. Thus "Lokakshemam"
welfare of the world a shift from personal benefits to the majority of
the society can be attained.
Indira Mandloi

Well, as we all know that there are two facets of a coin that's what
exactly apply here. Of course there are two ways of looking on the
caste-based census as far as I am concerned. From one angle I consider
it good because we are living in a society where people belong to
numerous castes. And on the basis of the caste, most of the time one
can figure out what kind of background does a person come from. Yes,
it sounds irrational but I think it is very true; at the same-time as
I have off late observed it very closely. And hence, we also come to
know about the people belonging to the backward classes and the
scheduled castes. And as we all know that people who come from the
scheduled castes are comparatively quite backward and need
government's help to grow in society and come to mainstream like other
superior or general castes of our society.
This way, I reckon, the government will be able to figure out the
approximate number of people belonging to different castes and creeds
and hence will be able to formulate further schemes for the backward
class of the people in a better way so that the disparity between the
rich and the poor can be rooted out. And if we look at it from the
other perspective then it also is an evil as it creates discrimination
among ourselves. On the one hand we talk about being a nation where no
discrimination should be made on the basis of any caste, creed, place
of birth, religion and on the other hand we ourselves conduct a census
where we discriminate people on the basis of the caste that they
belong to. We on such occasion forget that we all ultimately belong to
only one caste or religion which is 'humanity'.

This seems to be a politically motivated move? On one hand we talk
about the teachings of Gita Vasudev Kutumbakam which means that the
entire world is a big family and on the other hand we talk about the
census and ask people about their castes. It is entirely baseless.
India is a secular country, where all its citizens enjoy equal rights
why then suddenly the need for caste based census?
We have always encouraged inter-caste, inter-regional as well as
across the border marriages. Do we ever ask our friends about their
caste and now suddenly out of the blue the state asks me about my
caste? Isn't it weird? We might be culturally different, practising
different religions, speaking different languages, but to be branded
by the state on the basis of our caste should not be the call of the
Instead of extending our horizons are we trying to confine ourselves
to the four-walls of casteism? Isn't it strange that though we call
ourselves as a developing country, a country of diversities, a secular
state we are more communal than the other countries.
Let us all rise, join hands and do not restrict ourselves with the all
bondages of caste and state that our caste is that we are Indians.
Enough is enough we do not want to be manipulated by the politicians
for their own conveniences.
Let's all bring about the required social awareness of change of
development of a country as a whole.
Medhavi Chourey

India is a developing country making progress by leaps and bounds and
challenging the old and hackneyed traditions and convictions.
Education has widened man's outlook and he bears no rigidity regarding
the marital issues, that is the reason why the educated and literate
boys and girls adopt and prefer love marriages and inter-caste
marriages. The democratic spirit also supports the modern conception
of rationalisation. Democracy is supposed to curb down the tangible
aspect of casteism. It is only the leaders with conservative views who
prefer casteism to determine their position in casting votes in
general elections. Even the electoral code of conduct does not permit
to do so. Hence it can be boldly stated that caste-based census is not
at all justified. For it degrades the democratic morale, weaken's
man's thoughts and loses the sense of keeping pace with the modern
Chandra Gupta

India is deeply rooted in caste traditions and conventions. The
general mass believe in its organisational activities. Even marriages
are solemnised in the framework of castes, sub-castes and gotras. Even
the political leaders do not hesitate in manipulating their votes in
the election and guessing the results thereof. Hence I donot think
why the details regarding the caste issue should not be mentioned in
the forthcoming census 2010. It will cover not only the numerical
details of population but it will bring to light that man's standard
of life, his financial status and mental make-up of society as well.
The more information it possesses, the better it is for making
policies. Hence caste-based census is justified in toto.
Dr Krishna Chandra `Kalanidhi'

Motto of the census is to find the exact number of people residing in
country, so that new planning, development schemes etc can be
launched in the ratio of increasing population. The sacrosanct
constitutional liability given to Government is to have census in a
decade and not to divide people on the basis of caste on the name of
census. To have census on the basis of caste indicates intention of
political benefit only. If census is recorded on this basis again
there will be a new dispute, like our country has burnt in dispute of
reservation case. There are some new things added in this census, that
should be welcomed, like information about immovable and movable
property owned by people and head of the family would be considered on
the basis of bearing parental liabilities not on the age basis. A
unique I.D. number providing planning is also under consideration of
Government. All these things would really be beneficial not only for
our country but for the people also. Only caste-based census is
objectionable. The main reason for caste-based census may be vote-bank
for political parties and may be intended to give benefit of
government planning to a special caste people. In view of this it is
improper to have caste-based census. It should be only on
nationality-based. As all of us are Indians, our caste, our religion
should also be only Indian.
Ashish Soni

Why caste-based census needed again after 80 years? This is the first
question of mine. Can we not develop India without counting the people
on caste basis? What are the advantages of caste-based census and what
we cannot achieve without it? Persons who support caste-based census
are not common people but politicians. Common people do not demand
such things because these things do not affect their lives.
On going with this debate I conclude that this is only a political
chorus. The politicians of backward classes want to protect their vote
banks and play such type of games. They have no concern for
development of backwards. Indian society has many castes and people
migrate from one place to another. The people who are backward in one
state may not be so in another. In this situation can we make proper
policies and could the real people be benefited?
Census on caste basis is not needed in India because it has no
advantages or disadvantages. Now, in the 21st century when we have
crossed the caste limits in business, education and in other sectors
of life, raking up the caste issue is shameful. I would like to say
that in this new century, even the SC or ST persons do not like to be
categorized as belonging to a lower caste. After independence, India's
founding fathers decided to do away with caste as a census criterion
because of their desire to build a casteless society and now we are
restoring it again when we are near to our goal. Now, India is the
country of youths who do not have so much concern for creed or caste.
They want to live in a country in which there is no discrimination on
the basis of caste, colour, sex, religion and language.
OP Sharma

2011 Census exercise has already started with the house numbering done
and even the initial details of the residents having been collected in
some cases. There were pressures from the Yadav duos and some others
on the government to have a caste-based census. There are many others
who are opposed to it. By and large most of the educated and
non-political class is against the caste system. However the reality
is that even within the individual castes there are so many
sub-castes. You have innumerable Brahmins like Gaurs, Saraswats,
Nagars, Khedawals and so on. Similar sub divisions exist in Kshatriyas
and Vaishyas. The reservation policies after the Mandalisation of the
country has made Dalits and OBCs more powerful than any other castes.
SC and ST terminology is already there. In short we have done
everything possible to divide and further sub-divide the country. All
this has enabled the creation of thousands of Associations. Each
considers itself as an identifiable vote bank. Hence the political
class want to give them goodies that in most cases are reservation in
schools, college admissions, seats in local bodies,
central/state/local jobs, constituencies and candidates in assemblies
and Lok Sabha. Today there are less than 30 to 40% general class; all
others belong to some reserved category.
AB Mehta

Caste census gives the impression that the govt has decided to resume
the colonial practice of enumeration, and often ranking of all castes
and sub-castes among the Hindus, the SCs, STs and OBCs. Over the
years partial attempts have been made by several states such as
Karnataka, AP and UP to collect OBC information with the help of
specially appointed Commissioners. An enumeration of the OBCs will not
only settle disputes about their numbers but also yield vital
information about the socio-educational and economic condition of the
communities. Census will be giving us information about the numbers,
demographics (sex, ration, mortality like expectancy) educational data
(literacy ratio of school going population, no. of graduates an so on)
and economic conditions (assets, working population) of the OBCs and
castes. Caste-based census is in the benefit of the country. Bio-data
of each and every citizen is also very essential. Every citizen should
give full cooperation in giving their details to the census
PS Pawar

'Jaat Na Poochey Sadhu Ki,
Hari Ko Bhaje So Hari Ka Hoi'
So cautioned socialist Kabir. God created man in His own likeness. The
never sleeping Satan prompted man to device many religions, castes and
creed. Yet the colour of the blood does not vary with them. Hence,
our true race must be Man and Universal religion, Humanity. It will
eliminate most conflicts of orthodoxy, religious fanaticism, apartheid
and clash of castes. Caste inquiry was last included in 1931 census
under the British rule. At that time the orthodox shackles of casteism
and untouchability were quite strong and Gandhiji struggled against
them. Long ago Lord Bentik and Rajaram Mohan Roy made social reforms.
In our sovereign and secular nation, caste system and untouchability
are legally abolished. To call any scheduled caste person by his caste
name is an offence. The Harijan Welfare Departments and Police
stations deal their social matters. Ideally, in a casteless society,
socialism and equality before law prevail. Absence of most conflicts
imputes to development of economy.
To safeguard the interests of the downtrodden over a long period, our
Constitution initially provided job reservations to them for a fixed
term. Despite six decades of Independence, these reservations still
grip the nation. Now, that other backward classes too are included,
and the hot-politics goes on, one wonders if these reservations are
being perpetuated and all class-open competitions are to be under
clouds...??? Builders of our nation and social reformers like
Rabindra Nath Thakur, Sharad Chandra, Munshi Premchand, MM Malviya,
Swami Vivekanand, SC Bose, Pt Nehru and above all, the Father of the
Nation- all would strongly have opposed such caste-based politics that
serve only narrow minds. In his `The Religion of Man', Gurudev Tagore
strongly advocated for a casteless, universal religion of humanity. We
can never go beyond man in all that we know and feel, he says. The God
of humanity has arrived at the gates of the ruined temple of the
tribe...Man must never lose in his material quests, his longing for
the touch of the divine...Thus Tagore oversteps all limitations of
race and creed:-
`Where the mind is without fear
And the head is held high..
Against itself by walls of narrowness..
Where the clear stream of
reason is not lost
In the dreary sands of dead habits..
Oh God! Into that heaven of freedom
Arun Sarje

In the national interest I welcome caste-based census because it will
clear many things about the caste and social structure of society.
The data collected through caste-based census is going to become very
useful for framing the policies for socially and educationally
backward castes for their overall development and will add to the
development of nation and it is no better way than this to bring out
the data of the castes. The main aim of caste-based census should be
to achieve the active participation and sharing by the "socially
excluded" humanity in all the fields of the affairs of the society -
the country will benefit. Those who want to maintain the status quo
and consider their personal interests above the national interest,
oppose caste census. The main arguments given against caste based
census that politicians for their self interest wants caste to be
documented in the census 2011 for their political endeavour and to
meet their selfish interest through castes based politics and so much
so another argument is extended that casteism will increase by
adopting the method of caste based census. But they failed to
understand that India is a caste-ridden society and people are
divided on the basis of castes. We find social practices of every
community as a whole were founded on the doctrines of caste culture.
Marriages took place within the caste and sub-caste only. Look at the
Sunday Matrimonial appears in leading news papers; one can find the
ugliest form of caste mind sets of people. Yes I know caste is a
disease but if we want a disease to die, we need a treatment. Without
treatment how can we expect the disease to die? If we want 5000 Years
of Casteism to die just by not collecting data of caste population how
it is possible? So in what form we are going to give justice to those
affected castes and without giving justice if we killed the caste then
whom to wipe out those injustices? Whom to bring those low lying
people up? How casteism formed ups and down?
Rajesh Borkar

It is a ridiculous act of the UPA government to bring caste-based
census. Down the ages many indomitable souls had shed their blood to
drive away this caste and irrational systems of our country to make
room for everyone to live in peace. But then, once again this kind of
census or any plan to be implemented based on caste only brings
discrimination between so called caste oriented sects, hatred among
people leading to violence and ultimately division in the country.
From the ancient times and up to now this VIRUS (caste) had suffused
its root to the nook and corner of our country, more so, for some this
virus is deeply rooted in their blood. The funniest part is that
everyone possesses the MEDICINE in them (MIND), to cure this
caste-virus, some had done it, while few are unwilling to use the
medicine and want it to spread. Moreover, by initiating the concept of
caste we are negating the goals and visions of our freedom movement
(freedom fighters). This plan of caste-based census in no way helps
our country to move forward rather it helps to take a 'U' turn to head
backward. In one way caste-based census would set ablaze and give way
to the abhorrent anti-social elements to cook up new formulas for the
devastations and conspiracies intended for our nation. Today this
virus has entered into the KHAP panchayat, partially ruining the
country in the name of 'Honour killing.' Suppose, if this notion of
caste prevails in our country, India will soon face the music of HELL
on this earth, and naturally India's future will be at stake and
H Infant Vinoth Kumar

Yes, caste-based census is what is needed most in a country like
India. Caste is the single most important thing in our country. In
fact caste governs us. The reservations in government jobs,
educational institutions are made on the basis of caste. Marriages
take place within the caste.
Inter-caste marriages are extremely rare. Politicians are elected on
the basis of support extended to them by particular caste or castes.
The government must have a clear picture of the various castes in the
country, their number, social and educational status etc so that it
can accordingly prepare plans and schemes for them. The census results
will be used by the government to formulate welfare schemes for the
people. Caste will be an important factor the government will keep in
mind while chalking out future plans. Schemes for the upliftment of
downtrodden and backward classes will also be prepared. The results of
the caste-based census are eagerly awaited so that we may have a clear
picture of how the various castes are faring. This will also help in
the removal of misconceptions about certain castes. The government
will also know how much the backward and scheduled castes have
actually benefitted from its schemes.
Prakash Shrivastava

Census is the process of officially counting the population of a
country & recording of the various related essential facts. In ancient
Rome, object of census was counting of citizens and an evaluation of
their property for taxation purposes. In our country also we count
citizens and record their social & economic condition by conducting
census after a certain period of time. Through census government comes
to know about the deep cleavage between rich and poor, financial
&social status of different classes of people.
On the basis of information, government prepares its plan for the
uplift of deprived persons.
Before independence till 1931 caste-based census was prevalent in our
country but after independence our home minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai
Patel opposed caste-based census and said that in our secular and
independent country old caste-based census will not continue in
future. Some other people also opposed caste-based census; they argued
that caste, like religion was purely a social institution that had no
place in public life and political decision-making. According to them
caste is the most regressive feature. So casteless census continued
approximately for 80 years. But our society is like a living organism,
so now again our PM Manmohan Singh, AK Antony and many other ministers
are in favour of caste based census in the year 2011. Nitish, Laloo
Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan are also supporting it. There are many pros
and cones in both but when we weigh caste-based census then we find it
is justified because caste-wise census will identify numerous backward
and downtrodden classes which may be benefited by this type of census.
Though caste-based census is a difficult task but not an impossible
thing. Union Cabinet is fully in favour hence caste-based census is
fully justified and beneficial.
S Zia Ul Hasan Naqvi

Caste is not a peculiar phrase to India. It is prevalent in many
countries. Conversion to Islam and Christianity or Buddhism does not
erase caste identity. In spite of the claims of Islam and Christianity
that all believers are equal, the caste advantages and disadvantages
continue to be perpetuated even after conversion. Therefore, the
demand that caste reservation should be extended to the converts to
Islam and Christianity. This demand has already been accepted and
judicially approved. In such circumstances it is only logical that
caste data for the census should cover all religions and not be
restricted to those calling themselves Hindus. It is presumed the
government's instructions to the census authorities will implement
this requirement. In due course this will lead to the reservations
being operated on the basis of caste, without reference to religion.
It has been asserted by the government that this data will not be
subjected to analysis. Caste is a very complex subject. A particular
caste having the same name can be an upper caste in one state, a
backward caste in another state and a most backward caste in a third
state. Vesting the data with the sanctity of the census operation is
bound to raise issues of quotas within reservations based on the
relative strengths of castes.
Dr Visal A Khan

1931 census data can not be the basis of providing the reservation to
OBCs in various schemes including jobs and education. Social justice
should have to be ensured as long as caste system prevails. In such a
situation caste-based census is essential. Hence it is justified.
The caste system is a bitter truth of Indian society. There is nothing
wrong in asking for a caste-based census as caste is mentioned in the
constitution itself. By not collecting caste data, the Census, a great
national undertaking, strikes a blow for social equality.
The census is done under the authority of the Census Act, 1948. Census
2011 will be the 15th national census since 1872 and the 7th since
Independence. India launched Census enumerating the country's 1.2
billion population and classifying usual residents according to their
gender, religion, occupation and education but no information will be
collected on castes.
Caste based census that generates a more authentic and fresh data on
backward classes in the country is essential for determining and
achieving equitable social development. And also the government can
plan for development of the socio-economic and educational status of
the backward people. Thus the OBCs, a huge chunk of population, will
get their constitutional rights.
The reservation in education and employment based on the population of
each caste is essential to provide equal opportunities, equitable
growth, and social justice and safeguard democracy and also
socio-economic uplift of the OBCs, the most neglected in the society.
An enumeration of the OBCs will not only settle disputes about their
numbers but also yield vital information about the socio-educational
and economic conditions of the communities. It not only paves the way
for the development of the downtrodden but also puts at rest endless
disputes about the size and backwardness of various communities. So
many Political parties cutting across party lines supported for a
caste-based census. Several Union Ministers and Chief Ministers also
justified the caste-based census in the country.
PS Prakasa Rao

Caste based census is good to know the caste, their numbers, status,
etc but it is not justifiable to address the problems of inequality,
poverty, backwardness and other socio-economic and cultural ills in
India as a whole. So the leaders of the freedom movement and also the
leaders of independent India overlooked the caste dynamics and harped
upon the vision of casteless society with a greater interest on
national unity and integrity and socio-economic progress and
prosperity. The last caste-based census was taken in 1931. Even after
passing 79 years, the caste based discrimination being a ground
reality could not be removed and caste distinction is going on.
Recently, the Madras High Court in its judgment dated 13th May, 2010
directed the GoI and the Census Commissioner of India for taking caste
census. The lawyer on whose petition Madras HC has directed the
Census Commissioner to conduct a caste based census filed a caveat in
the Supreme Court on 19th May praying that no relief should be granted
to the Union Govt without hearing caveator. Let us wait for a
decision by the Supreme Court on this national issue.
KY Jacob

The caste and class discrimination is so much ingrained in Indian
society that it is very difficult to erase it. If Brahmins look
downward an OBC, the OBC naturally looks downward the lower castes or
Dalits and thus goes the caste distinction. Otherwise, what was the
need of the Union Cabinet to come up with such lopsided views of caste
enumeration, when we all aim at a caste-less or class-less egalitarian
society? It is high time that this hypocrisy should go from Indian
mindset for the over-all good of Indian society. A lawyer has already
filed a caveat in the highest court against the government decision,
quoting apart from the constitutional provision, the reservation of
OBC candidates in educational institutions. When we have stopped the
practice of caste-based enumeration since 1931, why this practice has
been started again. By allowing caste-based enumeration in the census
2011, the idea of those who worked behind it might be to barter for
larger share, proportionate to their number in the census. Perhaps,
the framers of our constitution might have envisioned such situation
in future, hence they were against the caste-based enumeration. The
larger question is then what for we owe allegiance to a constitution
which is there to be violated or sidelined in so far as issues
concerning sovereignty, nationality and the very Indian ness?
RK Kutty

Now that everything is caste based in our country, there is no harm in
including caste in census. We have been witnessing that caste has more
importance (after, of course, religion) in life than qualification.
The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, later Other Backward
Classes (OBC) have preference in every where, whether it is the case
of admission to school and colleges or in getting government job.
Earlier, to upgrade the poor scheduled caste and scheduled tribes
economically and give them a status in society, the government had
introduced reservation system for these categories for only ten years.
After ten years the rulers at that time found that the reservation
could not or did not bring the desired results in ten years, it was
extended for another ten years. But the reservation system had to be
extended again and again due to lethargic implementation or political
compulsion. Now it has become a right to these categories.
Now that the government has decided to include caste also in census,
at least we will get an idea about the number of castes in the country
and the number of persons belonging to a particular caste. In earlier
censuses the government wanted to find out the number of SCs and STs
to have an idea about their population and economic status to help
annual planning of the country. I am sure more number of castes and
sub castes is present in Maharashtra than in any other state. People
will be confused when one surname is used by several belonging to
different categories of castes and sub castes. For example, take the
surname Malviya. People belonging to OBC, Tribals and other sections
of society use this surname to the utter confusion of many.
Jyoti Rai

We already know the number of religions practiced, languages spoken,
male-female equation etc in this country with a population of more
than 1100 million. Now it the government plans to include caste in the
present census, what is the harm in it? Except that it would increase
the workload of census conducting employees and census department, the
people should not have any objection about it. Is not it funny that
the government itself says that one should not ask other about his
caste. At the same time one has to state his name of caste whenever
his child is admitted to a school, or while applying to the government
for anything including job. The name of your caste is more important
now than the name given by parents. These days persons are known only
through their castes or surnames. In fact unless a person write his
full name along with surname, it is difficult for anyone to identify
him. If I say or write only my christened name, Rajiv, others would
definitely ask, 'Rajiv who?' Whether like it or not, I have to use my
surname 'Nair' with my name. The caste name is as important as my
name. This show how powerful the caste has become now and people are
proud of it. The caste name of one region may look funny to persons
living in other region. But that is normal and natural. In this
situation the government's decision to include caste in the present
census is welcome. One of the benefit of caste-based census is we will
be able to know in how many castes and sub castes we are divided now
and in future whose number is going up and who are coming down. Nobody
knows how many castes and sub castes are there in the country. After
the census it would be known to one and all. Don't be surprised when
you hear about the largest number of castes, sub castes and surnames
people use in this country. Because, this is India and Indians are
different in many ways.
Rajiv Nair

The census operation held once in 10 years cover 1.2 billion people
in one single data base. The first census that sought people of
caste was conducted in 1931 when British ruled in India. There are
lot of debates being done on this subject and different opinions have
emerged. A section of opposition is demanding inclusion of caste in
the on going census work. They also accused of suppression of
reality of backward class percentage going up by not allowing a
caste based census that has not been carried out after 1931 and
also caste census may yield a wealth of information that can be
used for better governance. At the same time Govt cited practical
difficulties and our constitution has resisted the idea since the
preamble of constitution discourage community distinction based
on caste cannot be inducted keeping in view of the spirit of
people of India as a secular state. Recently Home minister
Chidambaram pointed about the difficulties for the enumerators who
are not sociological sensitivity to record the categories of 6000
castes and 65000 sub castes in the country. So in my opinion caste
based census cannot be justified in the present scenario.
C Rajendran


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