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Caste Census
Cabinet clears caste census in 2011

A
By : Avadhesh Kumar Pandey
'er several delibera6ons separate house-to-house caste asked whether caste enumera-
within the government on enumera6on from June to Sep- 6on would be merged with the
the poli6cally-sensi6ve tember next year. headcount.
issue, the Union cabinet decided According to home minister P. The decision has been taken
to carry out a separate house-to- Chidambaram, a'er considering a'er considering op6ons sug-
house caste enumera6on from various op6ons, the op6on that gested by the Group of Ministers
June to September next year we have approved is, based on (GoM) set up on the issue and
Giving in to demands from al- the responses of various poli6cal the consulta6ons that finance
most all poli6cal par6es, govern- par6es, that caste must be can- minister Pranab Mukherjee held
ment on Sep 9 2010. decided to vassed and the integrity of the with leaders of various par6es.
hold caste census next year headcount must not be affected. Par6es like Rashtriya Janata
under an exercise to be carried The caste enumera6on will be Dal, Samajwadi Party and Janata
out separately from the enumer- conducted in a phased manner Dal (United) had disrupted pro-
a6on of popula6on. a'er the popula6on enumera- ceedings in Parliament for several
A'er several delibera6ons within 6on, which will include biometric days during the Budget and Mon-
the government on the poli6- capture and headcount, is com- soon sessions while pressing for
cally-sensi6ve issue, the Union pleted by March next year, he caste census.
cabinet decided to carry out a said. He evaded a reply when The Bhara6ya Janata Party,

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which was divided ini6ally, later “Census 2011,'' the biggest-ever ship of mobile phones, comput-
decided to support it. The issue census a7empted in the history ers, internet, having treated or
even divided the Congress as well of mankind enumera6ng the untreated drinking water facility
as the Union cabinet with some country's 1.2 billion popula6on and usage of banking services.
favouring caste census and others and classifying usual residents ac- They will also seek addi6onal in-
opposing it, promp6ng the gov- cording to their gender, religion, forma6on for the crea6on of
ernment to set up a GoM to con- occupa6on and educa6on. NPR. The government has al-
sider all aspects related to such a The massive exercise, to be ready said that no informa6on
move. spread over next 11 months, will will be collected on castes as no
Chidambaram said a suitable mark a milestone as the first-ever caste-based census has ever been
legal regime for collec6on of data Na6onal Popula6on Register conducted in independent India.
on castes would be formulated in (NPR) will also be prepared in The second phase, called the
consulta6on with the ministry of which all persons aged over 15 Popula6on Enumera6on phase,
law and jus6ce. years will be photographed and will be conducted simultaneously
There will be an addi6onal fingerprinted to create a biomet- all over the country from Febru-
cost for the exercise which will be ric na6onal database. With this ary 9 to 28, 2011, and the en6re
assessed at a separate mee6ng. India will probably become the exercise would be completed by
The office of the Registrar Gen- first democra6c na6on in the March 5, 2011.
eral and Census Commissioner world which would have got its All 640 districts, 5,767 tehsils,
would conduct the field opera- popula6on fingerprinted in a year 7,742 towns and more than six
6ons of the caste enumera6on. from now. lakh villages will be covered.
The Central government will As the first ci6zen of the
cons6tute an expert group to country, President Pra6bha De-
classify the caste/tribe returns visingh Pa6l was the first person What is Census
a'er the enumera6on is com- to be listed in the decennial exer-
pleted. The office of the Registrar cise. She appealed to her compa- The Indian Census is the most
General and Census Commis- triots to follow her example “for credible source of informa6on on
sioner would hand over the de- the good of the na6on.'' Demography (Popula6on charac-
tails of the castes/tribes returned The 15th Na6onal Census ex- teris6cs), Economic Ac6vity, Liter-
in the enumera6on to the pro- ercise, since 1872, will see over acy & Educa6on, Housing &
posed expert group. 25 lakh officials
The last caste-wise census capturing the
was held in 1931 and such a prac- socio-economic-
6ce had been given up as a mat- cultural profile of
ter of policy a'er Independence. its ci6zens. It will
In response to the demands cost around Rs.
for enumera6ng castes other 2,209 crore while
than Scheduled Castes and the expenditure on
Scheduled Tribes in the Census NPR will be Rs.
2011 raised inside Parliament as 3,539.24 crore.
well as by various groups outside, The exercise will
the ministry of home affairs sub- also consume
mi7ed a note to the Union cabi- more than 11 mil-
net in May 2010 pertaining to this lion tonnes of
issue. paper.
During the
India launches Census massive exercise,
2011, the biggest-ever in the enumerators
history for the first 6me
will collect infor-
India on Apr 01, 2010 launched ma6on like owner-

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ing ques6ons and filling up Cen-
sus Forms. The informa6on col-
lected about individuals is kept
absolutely confiden6al. In fact
this informa6on is not accessible
even to Courts of law. A'er the
field work is over the forms are
transported to data processing
centres located at 15 ci6es across
the country. The data processing
will be done using sophis6cated
so'ware called Intelligent Char-
acter Recogni6on So'ware (ICR).
This technology was pioneered
by India in Census 2001 has be-
come the benchmark for Cen-
suses all around the globe. This
involves the scanning of the Cen-
sus Forms at high speed and ex-
Household Ameni6es, Urbaniza-
trac6ng the data automa6cally
6on, Fer6lity and Mortality,
using computer so'ware. This
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Na$onal Popula$on revolu6onary technology has en-
Tribes, Language, Religion, Migra- Register abled the processing of the volu-
6on, Disability and many other
minous data in a very short 6me
socio-cultural and demographic The NPR would be a Register of
and saving a huge amount of
data since 1872. Census 2011 will usual residents of the country.
manual labour and cost.
be the 15th Na6onal Census of The NPR will be a comprehensive
the country. This is the only iden6ty database that would help
source of primary data at village, in be7er targe6ng of the benefits
town and ward level. It provides and services under the Govern-
NPR Process
valuable informa6on for planning ment schemes/programmes, im-
Details such as Name, Date of
and formula6on of polices for prove planning and help
Birth, Sex, Present Address, Per-
Central & State Governments and strengthen security of the coun-
manent Address, Names of Fa-
is widely used by Na6onal & In- try. This is being done for the first
ther, Mother and Spouse etc will
terna6onal agencies, scholars, 6me in the country.
be gathered by visi6ng each and
business people, industrialists, How will both these exercises be
every household. All usual resi-
and many more. The delimita- conducted?
dents will be eligible to be in-
6on/reserva6on of Cons6tuen- The Census is a statutory exercise
cluded irrespec6ve of their
cies - conducted under the provisions
Na6onality. Each and every
Parliamentary/Assembly/Pan- of the Census Act 1948 and Rules
household will be given an Ac-
chayats and other Local Bodies is made there under. The NPR is
knowledgement Slip at the 6me
also done on the basis of the de- being created under the provi-
of enumera6on. The data will
mographic data thrown up by the sions of the Ci6zenship Act and
then be entered into computers
Census. Census is the basis for re- Rules.
in the local language of the State
viewing the country's progress in
as well as in English. Once this
the past decade, monitoring the
database has been created, bio-
on-going schemes of the Govern- Census Process metrics such as photograph, 10
ment and most importantly, plan
fingerprints and probably Iris in-
for the future. That is why the slo- The Census process involves vis-
forma6on will be added for all
gan of Census 2011 is "Our Cen- i6ng each and every household
persons aged 15 years and above.
sus, Our Future". and gathering par6culars by ask-
This will be done by arranging

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camps at every village and at the works on the basis of biometric lieved to be incarnated by local
ward level in every town. Each de-duplica6on, in the case of per- dei6es and members of higher
household will be required to sons of age 15 years and above castes flock to seek their blessing.
bring the Acknowledgement Slip (for whom biometrics is avail- For three months of the year indi-
to such camps. Those who miss able), the UID Number will be viduals from the lower castes are
these camps will be given the op- available for each individual. For elevated to the status of God but
portunity to present themselves those below the age of 15 years have to live as untouchables once
at permanent NPR Centres to be (for whom biometrics is not avail- the Theyyam season culminates.
set up at the Tehsil/Town level. In able), the UID Number will be Numerous rituals and cus-
the next step, data will be printed linked to the parent or guardian. toms like Theyyam con6nue to
out and displayed at prominent nourish the prac6ce of caste dif-
places within the village and ward ferences in India. One only needs
for the public to see. Objec6ons Will Caste Census in to skim through the matrimonial
will be sought and registered at India Change Anything? columns in leading English dailies
this stage. Each of these objec- to get a sense that caste is an im-
6ons will then be enquired into The recent approval by the Gov- portant considera6on even for
by the local Revenue Department ernment of India for caste based the ‘modern’ elite segment of the
Officer and a proper disposal census has aroused concerns urban Indian popula6on.
given in wri6ng. among poli6cal par6es as well as Stephen P. Rosen in his book
Persons aggrieved by such social scien6sts and ethnogra- Socie6es and Military Power:
order have a right of appeal to phers. For the self-proclaimed India and its Army discuss the
the Tehsildar and then to the Dis- ‘modernists’ such regressive con6nuing salience of caste in
trict Collector. Once this process measures are likely to heighten India’s army. Though many would
is over, the lists will be placed in caste consciousness among Indi- consider Rosen’s conclusions
the Gram Sabha in villages and ans. While the pragma6sts argue somewhat extreme but he does
the Ward Commi7ee in towns. that data on caste can help the raise several valid concerns. The
Claims and Objec6ons will be re- government to be7er target affir- ba7alions in the Indian Army con-
ceived at this stage also and dealt ma6ve ac6on policies and 6nue to be organised as the Jat,
with in the same manner de- thereby address caste differences Sikh, Dogra or Rajput regiments.
scribed above. The Gram ra6onally. The fact however is the The Poona Pact between Ma-
Sabha/Ward Commi7ee has to that caste as a social reality in hatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambed-
give its clearance or objec6on India draws succour from mul6- kar in 1932 gran6ng reserva6on
within a fixed period of 6me a'er ple sources which will remain un- for ‘depressed’ classes in the
which it will be deemed that the touched by either the proposed provincial legislatures was a pre-
lists have been cleared. The lists census or the resultant official cursor for the phenomenal poli6-
thus authen6cated will then be policies. Caste issues influence cal salience of caste in Indian
sent to the Unique Iden6ty Au- everyday life of Indians in count- poli6cs. From the Backward
thority of India (UIDAI) for de-du- less ways. Classes Commission’s endeavour
plica6on and issue of UID For those who think that to create a master list of other
Numbers. All duplicates will be caste in India is merely a tool of backwards classes in 1955 to
eliminated at this stage based on poli6cal opportunism or a rem- KHAM (Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adi-
comparison of biometrics. nant of ancient Hindu culture, vasis and Muslims) poli6cs of the
Unique ID numbers will also be visit to the rural regions of North Congress (I) in the 1980s; from
generated for every person. The Kerala during the winter months the Mandal Commission uproar
cleaned database along with the can be surprising and unnerving. in the 1990s to growing mass ap-
UID Number will then be sent Every year as the winter sets in, peal of Dalit based poli6cal par-
back to the Office of the Registrar rural areas of North Kerala pre- 6es like the Bahujan Samaj Party,
General and Census Commis- pare for a unique transforma6on India’s poli6cal arena has wit-
sioner, India (ORG&CCI) and of social rela6ons. Theyyam is an nessed countless caste inspired
would form the Na6onal Popula- art form where performers, be- s6rrings. No observer of Indian
6on Register. As the UID system longing to lower castes, are be- poli6cs can ignore the role of

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India. censuses. During the regime of
According to the pragma- the Mughal king Akbar, the ad-
6sts India cannot simply ministra6ve report 'Ain-e-Akbari'
assume ‘modernity’ by ig- included comprehensive data
noring caste. They see pertaining to popula6on, indus-
caste as a form of social try, wealth and many other char-
stra6fica6on much like acteris6cs.
class in Britain or race in A systema6c and modern
caste in determining electoral the U.S. The U.S. census popula6on census, in its present
outcomes. and job applica6ons have a vol- form was conducted non syn-
Moreover, even before the untary disclosure segment requir- chronously between 1865 and
on-going controversy over the ing informa6on about the 1872 in different parts of the
2010 caste census erupted, the individual’s race. Comparing country. This effort culmina6ng in
Government of India had been in- caste with class and race appears 1872 has been popularly labeled
volved in many projects catego- incorrect if one realises that un- as the first popula6on census of
rizing its popula6on along caste like other forms of social stra6fi- India However, the first synchro-
lines. Despite cri6cisms from his- ca6ons, caste in India is allegedly nous census in India was held in
torians, poli6cal scien6sts and an- sanc6oned by the sacred scrip- 1881. Since then, censuses have
thropologists the Government of tures. Even though the scriptural been undertaken uninterruptedly
India did not abandon the colo- sanc6ty of caste is open to de- once every ten year.
nial state’s prac6se of differen6- bate many Indians cite the The Census of India 2001 was
a6ng people along lines of caste Manusmri6 and Bhagavad Gita to the fourteenth census in the con-
and religion in the People of India support arguments in favour of 6nuous series as reckoned
projects. According to Susan caste. It is much simpler to ad- from1872 and the sixth since in-
Bayly, in the late 1990s the An- dress differen6a6ons based on dependence. The gigan6c task of
thropological Survey of India was skin colour or na6onality than census taking was completed in
undertaking “massive exercise in stra6fica6ons perceived to be or- two phases. In the first phase,
caste-based data collec6on- the dained by religious texts. known as House -lis6ng Opera-
People of India Project- with Caste based social prac6ces 6ons, all building and structures,
funding from Planning Commis- in India go beyond the more visi- residen6al, partly residen6al or
sion. The project has used DNA ble poli6cal and economic dimen- non- residen6al were iden6fied
sampling to iden6fy difference sions and these subtle aspects and listed and the uses to which
between individual castes and are unlikely to be impacted by they were put recorded. Informa-
tribes. Readers are told that as the enumera6on of caste through 6on on houses, household
composite ‘type’, the Schduled the census. ameni6es and assets were also
Castes have ‘rela6vely broad collected. In the second phase,
noses’; chamars says another known as Popula6on Enumera-
entry are characterized by a ‘long, Brief History of Census 6on, more detailed informa6on
narrow head shape and a long on each individual residing in the
moderately broad nasal shape.” The earliest literature 'Rig-Veda' country, Indian na6onal or other-
Such, outrageous dis6nc6ons reveals that some kind of popula- wise, during the enumera6on pe-
based on caste in a report spon- 6on count was maintained in dur- riod was collected.
sored by a State agency had gone ing 800-600 BC in India. The At the Census 2001, more
completely unno6ced by the celebrated 'Arthashastr' by 'Kau- than 2 million (or 20 lakh) enu-
‘modernists’ and pragma6cs in- 6lya' wri7en in the 3rd Century merators were deployed to col-
volved in recent debate. Though BC prescribed the collec6on of lect the informa6on by visi6ng
previous censuses have not in- popula6on sta6s6cs as a measure every household. The Indian Cen-
cluded ques6ons of caste directly, of state policy for taxa6on. It con- sus is one of the largest adminis-
the ethnographic notes in the tained a detailed descrip6on of tra6ve exercises undertaken in
census reports have contributed methods of conduc6ng popula- the world.
much to literature on caste in 6on, economic and agricultural

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