This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Gayatri Raghunandan. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Is The Modi Govt. Keen On Hiding Vital Information Revealed By The Caste Census?

More from Gayatri Raghunandan

By Gayatri Raghunandan:

modi_poorIn 2011, while commissioning the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), the United Progressive Alliance government had claimed that it would ensure that every state government would be able to use custom-made indicators that would serve the purpose of identifying caste groups in need of affirmative action. However, this remains a distant dream with the current Modi government hiding vital information derived from the caste census behind a veil of ambiguity.

Many posit that doing so, while working on schemes of affirmative action for the benefit of deprived groups, can prove to be a strong force against parties seeking caste based political leverage. However, the question of what the government chooses to do with this data continues to remain unclear. The SECC does not provide us with the required information on the socio-economic status of individual social groups, with the data purely being arranged into the categories of ‘Scheduled Caste’, ‘Scheduled Tribes’ and ‘Others’. Who comprise the category of ‘Others’ is a grey area for research and analysis.

While Scheduled Castes and Tribes were already defined, the category of the largest minority, ‘Muslims’ became important as a distinct socio-economic category with the release of the Sachar Committee report. The report clearly showed their predominant social and economic backwardness. Since the Muslims are not part of the ‘others’, one can only assume that the remaining dominant groups, that is the Hindu upper castes, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Zoroastrians and a few others would comprise that category. It is, therefore, a source of ambiguity and uncertainty.

However, an argument for the reassessment of this system of analysis receives its strongest backing from the nature of the seven indicators for rural areas that were used during the census to assess deprivation:

1. Households with only one room, kuchha walls and kuchha roof.
2. No adult member between the ages of 16 and 59.
3. Female-headed households with no adult male member between 16 and 59.
4. Households with disabled member(s) and no able bodied adult member.
5. SC/ST households.
6. Households with no literate adult above 25 years.
7. Landless households deriving a major part of their income from manual casual labour.

In urban areas, it is a similar three-stage process to identify the urban poor – automatic exclusion, automatic inclusion and a scoring index. A family stands to be automatically excluded if it has either a four room house or possesses any one of these assets: a four wheeler, an air-conditioning set, or a laptop. They can also be excluded for owning any three of the following assets: fridge, a landline phone, a washing machine or a two-wheeler.

Indicator 3, showing female-headed households as under deprivation is a rather questionable point that is being made by the SECC. It may be noted that the work done by a woman involves longer hours than that of a man in rural areas and, therefore, cannot be disregarded owing to patriarchal mindsets.

Indicator 6 puts a low threshold for the appraisal of deprivation with the requirement merely of ‘literacy’. Data shows that 36% of the rural population is illiterate and almost 14% has received less than primary levels of education. Therefore, literacy cannot be seen as a proper indicator in a context where it is seen as a bare minimum that cannot guarantee occupational mobility and flexibility.

Indicator 7 brings up the question of self-employment and its importance to a rural household. While 38% of the landless are casually employed, one cannot deduce that they engage in casual work. The SECC fails to recognise self-employment as a source of casual labour which provides remuneration. While more than half of rural households own land, 40% was seen to be non-irrigated land. Only 4% own some kind of mechanised equipment while many more do not possess kisan credit cards. Possession of land, therefore, does not necessarily divorce one from the deprivation faced by the rural poor.

The SECC 2011 data released last year was labelled by many analysts as incomplete and raw. With final data of over half the districts still shrouded in mystery, most of the handwritten information remains illegible and hence, lost. The lack of information on consumption expenditure has also remained a major setback for the utilisation of this data. So what does the future hold for the outdated SECC?

In a recent interview, Backward Classes Commission Chairman K.L. Manjunath said, “I don’t want to say anything on the demand to consider the SECC data. We will make our own assessment. It requires a lot of study and scientific research to confirm the socio-economic backwardness of a community. The Commission will tour all the districts in the State to gather information.” This was in reference to the questionable Kapu reservation demand in Andhra Pradesh. A national census purely based on income slabs of groups as opposed to a consumption expenditure assessment is seen, therefore, as a considerable waste of time and effort.

The data produced by the SECC 2011 has not been perused by the government, leaving analysts perplexed about the use of such irrelevant data. One foresees tumultuous times ahead as opportunistic political giants who cannot be trusted with cattle fodder, now claim their right to make the caste census data public. While this data has been unsuccessful in delineating the rural and the urban poor, it is surely bound to cause a violent upheaval if bequeathed to avaricious hands that only seek power.

You must be to comment.

More from Gayatri Raghunandan

Similar Posts

By Jagisha Arora

By Shrsti Tiwari

By Anwesa

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below