Press Release on Caste Census signed by intellectuals, writers, editors

May 31, 2011

Government should clarify position on caste enumeration.

It’s important to collect facts related to educational and economical status.

The Union Government’s decision to collect caste based data along with the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) survey has created an air of confusion which needs to be cleared. After avoiding caste enumeration in the 2011 Census, as committed to Parliament, the government has decided to undertake a supposedly similar exercise from June to December 2011.

If this exercise is not according to the Census Act, 1948 the data collected will not be authoritative. Further, it would be difficult to engage teacher-enumerators for this survey. Most importantly, because it will be part of the BPL survey it will not be as comprehensive, omitting households that obviously do not fit the BPL category. It is worrisome news that the government is even looking to engage labourers under the MNREGA scheme for data collection.

The government should confirm or deny this alleged development and should only engage teachers in this exercise as they have the requisite skill set and experience to do this. The central government has shirked its responsibility to conduct a statutory caste census on an all-India basis by shifting the work unilaterally to the state governments without their consent.

Whereas the national census is done after thorough and systematic preparations extending over a year, the central govt. has given just a month to the states for commencing the caste survey. It has been asked to be commenced from 30th June 2011merely to pay lip-service to the Home Minister’s earlier ill-conceived statement that the stand-alone caste census will be done from June to September 2011. The states have been given no time now for finding out the required field personnel, giving sufficient training to them, printing and distributing the pro forma and instruction booklets, etc.

The centre and the states will embark on a mutual blame-game after the futile operation is over, but that will not help the country. The Home Ministry has badly let down the country, which was unanimous in demanding a comprehensive database of the caste-wise profile of the entire population of India as on date in 2011.

While the ultimate solution is to hold the government to its promise to Parliament during the 2021 Census, in the meanwhile we demand from the Government:

– The caste-related data collected from June-December, 2011 reliably capture the castes’ educational status and their share in various job categories. This should show which castes have been left behind in education and employment in six decades of independence.

– This enumeration schedule should cover socio-economic – educational – living standards – economic profile – employment profile – land holding – beneficiary details of various schemes / programmes with caste and religious bifurcation. All the issues and questions of the decadal census 2011 are relevant and important in the upcoming exercise as well.

– This data should be collected for all the castes and caste equivalents in non caste practicing communities or religious populations. No particular caste or caste group should be excluded from this. Any non-Hindu religious group that volunteers its caste/jati identity (e.g. Ashraf, Pasmanda Muslims, Dalit Muslims, Dalit Christians, Dalit Buddhists, Mazhabi Sikhs, etc.) should be identified as such,

– The caste census should be carried out according to the Census Act, 1948.

Issued on: 26th May, 2011, New Delhi.

Signatories:

1. Gail Omvedt, Chair Professor, B. R. Ambedkar Chair of Social Changes and Development, IGNOU
2. M. Vijayanunni, Rtd, Former Census Commissioner & Registrar General of India
3. R K. Nayak, Ex MP and Rtd. IAS Ofiicer
4. Prof. Kancha Ilaiah, Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Maulana Azad National Urdu University
5. Mastram Kapoor, Columnist & Editor of the Collected Works of Lohiya
6. Dr. Vasanti Raman, Senior Fellow, Centre for Women’s Development Studies
7. Kaushalendra Yadav, Founder, Social Brainwash Magazine
8. John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council and Secretary General, All India Christian Council
9. Ivan Kostka, Editor-in-Chief, Forward Press
10. H. L. Dusadh, Chairman, Bahujan Diversity Mission
11. Ganga Sahay Meena, School of Languages, JNU
12. Aariz Mohammad, Director, Centre for Social Justice, Hyderabad
13. G. Karunanidhy, General Secretary, All India Federation of OBC Employees
14. Rajnarayan, Convenor, Janhit Abhiyan
15. Dilip Mandal, Columnist and Writer
16. Cynthia Stephen, Independent Researcher and writer
17. Braj Ranjan Mani, Author of the Book Debrhaminising History
18. Aflatoon, Socialist Thinker and EX President BHU Students Union
19. Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Human Rights Activist
20. A. K. Pankaj, Editor, Johar Sahiya