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Homechevron_rightOpinionchevron_rightEditorialchevron_rightPolitics behind the...

Politics behind the caste census


As the time for the 16th census draws near, OBCs or other backward castes have put forth the demand that the practice of caste data collection be resumed. The caste census was stopped in 1931. The delegation, which met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday posing the demand, included Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Leader of Opposition Tejaswi Yadav of the RJD, Congress leader Ajit Sharma, Hindustani Awam Morcha leader Jitin Ram Manjhi and Akhtarul Iman of the MIM. BJP leader Janakram has also demanded the caste census. Though it is all Bihar party leaders in the delegation, the demand for a caste census is being raised nationwide. Until the census of 1931, the population of different castes was counted. Even now the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe populations are recorded. It is close to impossible to get a clear or precise answer from those in power as to why it was stopped or why it can't be restarted.

The ruling Hindutva exponents now ruling the country are trying to explain that they want a casteless Indian society. The RSS, the backbone of the Hindutva movement in the country, has repeatedly stated that all the people of India are Indians. Recently, the current Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat also considered Indian Muslims as part of the Hindu community. His argument is that all those who accept Indian nationality, regardless of religion, are Hindus. However, the Sangh Parivar, which has not been able to take any practical steps to eradicate the caste system which is at least two millennia old and has become an integral part of Indian culture and society, now has no choice but to pursue an unrealistic policy on the caste census alone.

While the educational, official, and representative representation of the Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes, who constitute 25.2 per cent of the total population, is guaranteed by the provisions of the Constitution, it is not practically possible to touch on it for the time being. However, the Constitutional guarantee that the socially and educationally backward sections or OBCs are also entitled to reservation has often been subject to change at the behest of the rulers in many states. Related complaints and controversies are still active. The Mandal Commission appointed by the Janata Government found that the OBC population proportion was 52 per cent. But the Congress government shoved away the recommendations of the commission. When the VP Singh-led Janata Dal came into power, it took steps to implement 27 per cent OBC reservation and the savarna clout in the Congress-BJP parties overthrew the government. The new census will undoubtedly reveal the savarna monopoly of the central and state services when the real figures of other backward communities come to light. It will show the naked picture of the denial of constitutional rights to a majority of the people of India. It is guaranteed this would disrupt the savarna hegemony.

In addition, the over-representation of certain castes in many states will be strongly questioned. It is wiser for them to pretend that there is no such data. That is why in the last session of Parliament, Union Home Minister Nityanand Rai said in response to a question in the Lok Sabha: "It is a policy decision of the government not to take a caste-based census other than that of the SC and ST." But as long as the National Sample Survey continues, the population of different castes cannot be completely kept hidden; only that exact figures will not be available. The rationale for excluding caste in the census while religion is recorded is also being questioned. What India really needs is a political and social system that ensures equal social justice and consideration for all human beings, regardless of caste or creed. Those waiting to ignite flames of hatred and communal tension can never imagine such a thing.

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TAGS:BJPCaste based Census
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