Caste -based Census
Demand for Caste - Based Census
Several political parties have intensified the demand for a caste-based census and sub-categorisation of castes in the country.
1. Explain the relevance of caste-based census for delivering social justice and its implication on society.
About Caste-based census:
● It means including the caste-wise tabulation of India's population in the census exercise that is held every 10 years. Since India started the census exercise, it has included Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs) with data about religions, languages, etc., but it never counted OBCs.
➢ It must be mentioned that all other castes apart from SCs and STs are included in the general category.
● When the British conducted the Census, it included data on castes till 1931. Thus, the count of OBCs is, therefore, available for 1931, when their share of the population was found to be about 52 per cent. Caste wise data has never been taken in the census since independence.
● The Central government had informed the Lok Sabha in July 2021 that it would not enumerate the caste-wise population, except those for the SCs and STs.
Demand for Caste-based census:
● The demand to include caste in the census is long pending. It arises from the fact that there is no documented data on the OBC population in India. The demand usually comes up every time in the run-up to the census exercise.
● The argument for the demand is that since the census already documents huge amounts of data including religions, languages, socio-economic status and Dalits and Adivasis, why not count OBCs too.
● Effective governance: Economists and policymakers have long argued that counting OBCs can better inform government programmes and efforts.
● Robust data: A caste-wise tabulation of the census will collect the numerical strength of various castes. It will help the government to plan and execute welfare policies for them in the right way.
● Improve service delivery to marginalised: The caste data that the caste-based census can yield may help governments’ welfare schemes reach the most backward and deprived castes that have been marginalised to date.
● Adequate and reliable data will end conflicting and often misleading claimsby political parties.
● Vote bank politics:The OBC data, if available, political parties will start vote bank politics, further weakening the society and increase in discrimination. It may also lead to caste conflicts within the OBCs and SCs and could also further intensify the caste tensions and animosity in the society in general.
● Increase in demand for inclusion in OBC list: Several communities such as Jats in Haryana, Patels in Gujarat and Marathas in Maharashtra have been demanding inclusion under the OBC category. The caste-based census might result in these and many other communities making a beeline for inclusion in the list.
● Re-emergence of reservation issue: Numbers about OBCs might provide a new issue to the political parties for an increase in OBC quota in central and state government jobs and educational institutions.
There is a need for debate in Parliament on reliable data for backward communities. The central government has taken steps towards social justice by setting up the Rohini Commission in 2017 which aims to extend benefits of reservation to those OBC castes that were left out of the central list.