Thursday, May 27, 2010

THERE IS A LOT IN A CASTE!

Caste based census is politically instigated!

The other day an enumerator came down to my home and comfortably started to ask me and my family details for census 2011. Everything was going smooth till he asked me about my caste, and that was the only moment I felt a little awkward. Not because he asked me about my caste or I wanted to keep it under anonymity, but actually because I do not remember when was the last time someone (educated and hailing from urban area) asked me such a question so bluntly and more so because this was the least expected question in this kind of survey!

The whole hue and cry or the so-called politicization of including caste in the census does not hold any merit for our generation. At a point in time when we are talking about equality and framing polices to break down nexus of Khap panchayats and caste based politics, such an inclusion for the national level database management is kind of absurd! Even the key-designer of Indian Constitution, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, never supported this kind of practice and was once found saying, “So long as people were divided into several thousand castes, we were cherishing a 'great delusion' in believing that we were a nation.”

It goes without saying that the prime motive of census is to give our policy makers a framework on which they can design social and human developmental schemes. If the policy makers are so keen on devising strategy and recognising the underdeveloped pockets of population, caste census is a ‘no solution’. As such there is no system in place to ensure that one would disclose his actual caste details, and in that case the whole purpose of including a column on caste details becomes completely redundant. Census should rather focus on social attributes like education, economic condition, women participation as workforce, average marriageable age in family and so on and so forth. No doubt, the whole issue just seems politically instigated! This kind of database would empower our politicians to effectively exploit the caste card. As such political parties like Samajwadi Party, RJD and JD-U have been strongly demanding inclusion of caste in the census! Not to forget, these are those parties who rely heavily on caste based politics for their vote banks. The advocates of such moves are also of the opinion that this would enable a better targeting for reservation. But then, it is no secret that such caste based reservations have their own sets of challenges. Not to forget that now, there exists a big probability of responders deliberately misrepresenting the facts in the official records, in order to grab a reserved part of developmental schemes.

When it comes to a democratic regime, caste is an antithesis. Above all, caste census is a retrograde move and should be replaced with concrete plans for development of backward pockets of population irrespective of their caste. There is no logic to defend that only the so-called SC/ST/OBCs needs development and reservation and almost all upper caste people are well-off ! In no circumstance, poverty can be confined to the unprivileged caste. In a country, where 60 per cent people earn less than a dollar a day, the actual purpose of such pan-India survey should be to bring out people from unlivable economic conditions.

It another example of petty private political gains made at the expense of national exchequer. If amends are not implemented at this point in time, it will bring back the horror of 1931, when Britishers executed such census to strengthen their divide and rule policy…


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3 comments:

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  2. Great work .You just now said what most of the youngsters feel today.People like me who dont know where they actually belong to (being second child of rajasthani parents and totally brought up in Gujarat and Maharastra).Only wrote caste in few govt forms and educational institutions.Hv to think hard when someone asks where i belong to and i end up saying from India and get confused expression.All we people want is upliftment of poor and not of some caste, creed or gender.We believe in equality and freedom.Hope our dear goverment understands this.

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