`Cabinet`s decision on caste census soon`

Govt Thursday said that modalities of caste ceusus will be decided by Union Cabinet soon.

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2010, 15:19 PM IST

New Delhi: A day after a GoM gave green
signal for inclusion caste in census, the Government Thursday said a final decision on the modalities will be taken by the Union Cabinet.

"Group of Ministers (on the issue) has decided that caste
will be canvassed without affecting the integrity of the
headcount," Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee said in the
Lok Sabha.

His remarks came after opposition members vociferously
raised questions over the GoM`s recommendation that caste
census would be conducted at the biometric stage, which will
be after headcount that is presently underway.

Mukherjee said a decision on the modalities of canvassing
the caste was yet to be taken.

"How and when .. it is still under consideration," he said
adding that a decision would have to be taken by the Union
Cabinet.

Opposition parties like BJP, JD(U), SP and RJD raised the
issue forcefully as the Lok Sabha convened for the day
demanding inclusion of caste in census at the headcount stage
itself and not at the biometric stage as suggested in media
reports.

"Are we fools? Biometric stage will never come," SP leader
Mulayam Singh Yadav said.

Mukherjee said the GoM met yesterday and considered the
views of several parties on the issue of caste census. The GoM
was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after strong
demands over inclusion of caste in census during the budget
session.

Today, a major concern of the political parties was that
enumeration of castes would not be possible at the biometric
stage as it was a "long drawn" process.

Moreover, only those above 15 years would be photographed
and fingerprinted to create a biometric national database,
they contended.

After Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the proceedings till
noon, the leaders of the parties met Mukherjee where it was
agreed that the government address their concerns and make a
statement in the House.

"This (biometric) exercise cannot be completed in 100
years. The decision to hand out voter identity cards was taken
15 years ago and has not been implemented completely," Sharad
Yadav said.

He was backed by others and BJP, BSP, SP, RJD members were
seen on their feet raising slogans in favour of headcount of
every citizen on caste basis.
The biometric stage would see camps being set up across
the country, beginning November, to collect fingerprints and
iris scan of people.
It is at this stage that the government intends to make
records of the caste of a person. The last caste census was
carried out in 1931.

PTI