Caste Based Census – Recently, the Union government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming that a caste census of the Backward Classes is administratively difficult and cumbersome. The government’s assertion came in response to a writ petition filed by the State of Maharashtra to gather Backward Classes’ caste data in the State while conducting Census 2021.
The Union government last week told the Supreme Court that the caste-based data enumerated in the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) of 2011 was “unusable”, but in 2016, the Registrar-General and Census Commissioner of India had informed the Standing Committee on Rural Development that 98.87% of the data on individual caste and religion was “error free”.
On the specific issue of collecting caste data during Census 2021, the Centre explained that a population census was not the “ideal instrument” for collection of details on caste. There is a “grave danger” that the “basic integrity” of census data would be compromised. Even the fundamental population count may get “distorted”.
Besides, the Centre said, it was too late now to enumerate caste into the Census 2021. Planning and preparations for the census exercise starts almost four years earlier.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC CASTE CENSUS
- The Socio-Economic Caste Census is a major exercise to obtain data about the socio-economic status of various communities.
- The Socio-Economic Caste Census was conducted for the first time in 1931.The government said caste-wise enumeration in the Census was given up as a matter of policy from 1951.
- It said there was a policy of “official discouragement of caste”.
- SECC 2011, the last census, had two components: a survey of the rural and urban households and ranking of these households based on pre-set parameters, and a caste census.
- However, only the details of the economic conditions of the people in rural and urban households were released. The caste data has not been released till now.