Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Census of Caste?

The Henry Hutton was Census Commissioner of India in 1931, the last time a caste-based Census was carried out-an oxford trained Anthropologist and an expert on castes, tackles the issue in his report on the Census of India in chapter, “The Return of Caste” which is very crucial to know the real intent of colonial initiatives behind the caste Census.
Opposite to Herbert Risley, Census Commissioner in 1901, who ranked castes in the Census according to their social standing, Henry Hutton had more academic and administrative conscious stands behind his propositions.

Obviously, introduction of caste Census in contemporary order were akin to fetch an administrative suitability rather with any plan for affirmative action-in a more generalized perception, it was a sort of numerical counting for administrative reasons.
The crux of caste Census initiated a wider transformation, with hundreds of caste associations formed between the 1880’s and 1930’s aiming their categorical demands both to the state and within the social system. Further, apart from caste, religion and language were politiczed by the Census-these harmful practices could be vanished only from 1941 Census because of intensification of independence movement and winding-up plans of British establishment.
In independent India, the constitution recognized the evils of the caste system and provided for provision for affirmative action with a view to eventually eliminating it from our social structure. But unfortunately it remains, even stronger-the entire arrangement of affirmative action has only created a creamy layer subclass and the benefits are continuously being denied to the vast submerged poor in backward classes, and to the rest poor in all the states.
So, the programme of social justice routes through reservation is grossly falsifying the essence of its inception-it’s so derailed now that even a daughter of past President {K.R.Narayanan}morally saw no wrong in availing the easy ladders of SC reservation to climb the destination of Indian Foreign Service examination.
These diverse and confusing debates are thriving in every nook and cranny about the prospect of caste Census in upcoming 2011 Census despite knowing the mandate of Supreme Court{India}, that cap the reservation beyond 50%both in job and education.
Besides there wouldn’t be even a minimal change in the wake of Backward caste population would juggle around 60-70%, which is going to be most viable probability-if relying on National Sample Survey Organization {NSSO,2004, OBC-41%}then prospective scenario becomes more crystal.
Unfortunately mapping of caste would make census exercise very stodgy for all indulged components and impulse them to shift from original issue of developmental inquiries-surprisingly, prominent voices including Psephologist Yogendra Yadav too seeing caste Census as tool of dynamicism to know about the changing social structure-alas! He also missed the use of competent National Commission for Backward Classes {Act1993} and state Backward Class Commissions for identification of the backward classes and to make special provisions relating to such classes.
“Remarkably even Mandal Commission was not entirely based on Census of 1891 and 1931; recommendations of Justice Venkataswami {Backward Caste Commission II} were sufficiently taken into account in this Commission; though later some flaws were noted by Justice Chinnappa Reddy {Backward Caste Commission III}-Nandini Sunder, THE HINDU, Tuesday, May 11,2010}”.
The constituent assembly framing the Census Act of 1948 decided to exclude caste returns {except SCc and STs}, so Indian constitution hardly gives any romantic space to play with caste at major arena. But in reality, case is reverse, since caste didn’t disappear from public life as was anticipated, so, political attitudes towards counting it have changed dramatically. Political groups and lobbyists who support such plan have in mind of race and ethnicity counting as it’s prevailing in the U.S and U.K census respectively.

This is nothing short of a blunder…after sixty-three years of democracy in India, now even caste shouldn’t be seen in terms of class-even partial benefit of reservation and mobility have considerably changed the traditional social structure in India. Central government has unwarrantably acting in complicity this regard by offering the heed to the lobbyists of caste politics. In an already fractured political space, it would be a grave jolt, after all introduction of caste Census will marks a parochial re-shifting of Indian politics. Even contemplation on this issue indicates the deeper sycophancy imbibed in collective cognition of a section who still finding solutions in the worse age of colonialism.
Atul Kumar Thakur, New Delhi
May28th 2010, Friday

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr Thakur,

    Thank you for your note. I have had a chance to go through your blog. Your range of interests is impressive. So is the depth of treatment of some topics (such as the caste census). There is only one suggestion I have to make. There is a better chance of being read if the blog is brief and snappy. It is also a good idea to break up the post into small paras. Once you are established, you may attempt larger pieces.

    best wishes,