Govt nod to caste based census: Sources

Sources in central govt reveal the cabinet has decided to go ahead with caste census.

Updated: May 07, 2010, 17:22 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Amid demands for a caste based
census, sources in the central government revealed that the cabinet had decided to go ahead with it.

A senior cabinet member reportedly revealed to a TV channel that go-ahead will be given to caste based census.

“Only OBC will be included as SC/ST and General columns are already there in the register,” the source said.

Data will not be used for analysis and will merely be included in the exercise. This will be the first time after independence that a caste based census will be held in India.

Last such census was held in 1931. BJMP Gopinath Munde also confirmed that that the govt had in most probability approved caste based census. He welcomed the move, saying it will be used to better target the various welfare schemes.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had todat assured the Lok Sabha
today that government would take a decision shortly in the
matter.

"I am aware of the views of the members of Parliament
belonging to all sections. I assure you that the Cabinet will
take a decision shortly," Singh said in a brief statement.

The Prime Minister`s statement mollified agitated
Opposition members who had forced adjournment of the House
after Home Minister P Chidambarm virtually ruled out
inclusion of caste in the exercise.

The debate on the issue had seen members cutting across
party lines favouring caste based census.

Replying to the debate, Chidambaram insisted that the main
aim of the exercise was headcount and listed difficulties in
including caste in the list.

However, he sought to assure members that their views on
the issue would be a "valuable guide" to the government, which
was seized of the matter.

After the earlier adjournment, four prominent OBC leaders,
including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad met Finance
Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a bid to persuade the government
to go in for a caste based census.

BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde and JD-U
chief Sharad Yadav were also present at the meeting, so also
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal and Chidambaram.

The issue of caste based census had also figured in the
meeting of the Union Cabinet earlier this week with ministers
putting forth pros and cons of the issue.

In his reply, Chidambaram said that the Registrar General
has pointed out a number of logistic and practical
difficulties in canvassing the question of caste while
conducting the census.

"The enumerator is not an investigator or verifier,"
Chidambaram said, adding that 21 lakh enumerators - mostly
primary school teachers - had no training or expertise to
classify the answer as OBC or otherwise.

"There is a central list of OBCs and state-specific lists
of OBCs. Some states do not have a list of OBCs while some
states have a list of OBCs and a sub-set called MBCs," he
said.

Quoting the Registrar General, the Home Minister said
issues regarding methodology, avoiding phonetic and spelling
errors, stage of canvassing of caste, maintaining integrity of
enumeration and doing an accurate headcount of population will
arise.

He maintained that as per the wish of the members the
enumerator should record whatever answer the respondent gives
to the question "What is your caste?"

"At this point, it is simply collection of information.
.....Government will certainly keep in mind the views of
honourable members," he said.

However, this failed to satisfy several members. SP chief
Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD leader Lalu Prasad, BSP leader Dara
Singh Chauhan, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and several BJP
members expressed resentment.

Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee walked up to
Chidambaram and asked him to be more specific. Though
Chidambaram made an effort, the agitating members were not
satisfied and forced an adjournment of the House.

-PTI inputs