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Govt refers caste census issue to GoM

The government could go in for inclusion of caste in census, according to indications that emerged today from a meeting of the Union Cabinet which decided to set up a Group of Ministers to discuss modalities in this regard.



New Delhi: The government could go in for
inclusion of caste in census, according to indications that
emerged today from a meeting of the Union Cabinet which
decided to set up a Group of Ministers to discuss modalities
in this regard.

During the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, several ministers, including M Veerappa Moily, Jaipal
Reddy, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Mukul Wasnik and Dayanidhi Maran
favoured inclusion of caste in census, sources said.

There was a general feeling that inclusion of caste in
census exercise was necessary in the changed scenario.

Some ministers said an early decision on the issue
should be taken as the Monsoon Session was not far away and
several political parties have been very vocal in demanding
inclusion of caste in census.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who had earlier expressed
reservations to the proposal, was cautious on the matter, they
said.

Wasnik reportedly sugested that the Home Ministry alone
was competent to do the exercise and not ministries of Social
Justice or Tribal Welfare. He said the Home Ministry was doing
it for the last several decades, the sources said.

Some ministers even said there was no need for a GoM and
recalled that the sentiments of members during the discussion
on the issue in the Lok Sabha was overwhelmingly for inclusion
of caste in census exercise.

Moily, who has been vocal votary for inclusion of
castes in census, said castes could easily be included in
round two and three of the exercise when the work on National
Population Register begins.

Kapil Sibal and M S Gill expressed reservations on
including castes in census as the exercise has already begun,
the sources said.

Some said that inclusion of caste in census was a
giagantic exercise as the country has over 17,000 castes and
sub-castes, some of which are scheduled castes in some states
but not in some others.

A minister said none of the members opposed the
inclusion as such but wondered how far such a course of action
would be in consonance with the goal of a caste-less society.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who has been heading
several GoMs on sensitive subjects, could be given the task to
head the group to look into the issue.

Anand Sharma, who had spoken against inclusion of castes
in census, today presented a balanced view on the sensitive
subject.

Sources said the GoM would also finalise the modalities
involved if castes are to be included in census.

While no time-frame has been set, the general feeling
among the ministers was that the GoM should come out with a
decision early.

The Cabinet, which first discussed the issue at length
on May 4, has been divided on it.

The Home Ministry is understood to have opined that the
present exercise of enumeration should go on and caste could
be included later at the time of taking biometric samples.

Several political parties, including Samajwadi Party,
RJD and JD(U), have been pressing for caste-based census but
the government is moving cautiously on the
politically-sensitive matter.

PTI

From Zee News

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