Casting India, Casting Census

Posted on May 13, 2010

Meenakshi Gaur:

The caste based propagandas are back; this time not during the elections but when the world’s largest democracy gears up for its headcount. The Congress-led UPA government has succumbed to the high-political pressure created by the Yadav trio; Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav. The government had earlier rejected the idea of the caste census, but now has agreed upon its inclusion in the national headcount. The Caste census will be conducted again in India after a gap of 79 years. It clearly is more of a political demand rather than a social welfare move.

Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee said, “Yes, we will include it (caste) in this census.” He added , it was not too late to add this criterion, as part of the exercise, which rolled on from April 1. “It (the census) has just started. All we need to do is to include a column on OBC. There are already columns on General, SC/ST.”

The 15th National Census exercise will cost around Rs. 2,209 crore and consume more than 11 million tons of paper. The census data is a “treasure house” of information, which helps the Government plan its future development work but this time based on caste. Mr.Mukherjee rebuffed the apprehensions that collection of data based on caste would lack authenticity as people could easily lie about their castes.

To expand their vote banks, the Yadav trio has set the stage to legally divide the nation’s population based on caste. It is seen as a step taken to breach the 50% limit on quotas set by the Supreme Court. It may lead to a demand for hiking OBC quota in jobs and education according to the ratio of population, as there are strong assumptions that OBC population is likely to be higher than 27% quota given to them. Thus, caste census will act like statistical proof and recall of “backward caste” based politics in India.

The government’s decision to pass the women’s reservation bill without any special reservation for the backward caste women has recently jeopardized its government, which witnessed a cut motion in the parliament. Also the government doesn’t want to send a message to public that it is against the interests of OBCs. Therefore Congress Chief, is playing safe by keeping the Yadavs happy, who are the handy supporters for UPA despite the clash over the women’s quota bill.

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