- Bihar intends to hold a caste-based activity tailored to the state.
- This comes after a team of Bihar leaders led by the Chief Minister visited with the Prime Minister and requested him to conduct a caste census in the country, but the Central Government declined.
What is caste census
- In a census, caste census refers to the tabulation of people by caste.
- Caste, which was last included in the Indian Census in 1931. The British ended the practise in 1941, and the government did not resume it until 1947.
- While India releases separate statistics on Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), the Census has not included data on other castes since the first exercise in independent India in 1951.
What is SECC 2011
- The 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census was a large-scale effort to collect information on the socio-economic status of various populations.
- It consisted of two parts: a survey of rural and urban families and their ranking based on predetermined factors, as well as a caste census.
- However, only the specifics of people's economic situations in rural and urban homes were made public. The caste information has not yet been made public.
Census vs. SECC: What's the difference?
- The Census depicts the Indian population, whereas the SECC is a tool for identifying state assistance recipients.
- Because the Census is governed by the Census Act of 1948, all data is deemed private, whereas the SECC collects personal information that may be used by government departments to provide or deny benefits to families.
Arguments in favour of Caste Census
- A survey is not the same as a census: In contrast to the census, caste data gathered by the NFHS and NSSO are survey-based estimates. The latter is really a census of the whole population of the country. It also creates information on each group's educational level, employment, household assets, and life expectancy at each level it recognises.
- Operational Challenges: It is standard procedure to distribute some Census tables five or seven years after the Census is done.
- Identity Politics: Understanding people's socioeconomic situation by caste and sub-caste is not only vital, but it may also be useful in formulating affirmative action and redistributive justice programmes.
- Rise in demand for reservation: Despite the lack of current caste statistics, many socioeconomic groups have demanded quotas in public jobs and entrance to central educational institutions.These requests were not founded on scientific facts on the size of those groups or their relative level of deprivation when compared to OBC, SC, or ST groupings.
Arguments Against Caste Census
- Availability of data on caste: Various government surveys, such as those conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS), collect data on the broad share of SCs, STs, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the population, so reasonable estimates of the broad social break-up of India's population are already available.
- Operational Challenges:Since we don't have an official list of all castes in the country, a thorough caste census, including a jati-by-jati breakdown of the 'higher castes,' would be problematic. This would necessitate a significant amount of post-census categorization work, which might create a delay in the delivery of General Caste data.
- Identity Politics: In India, it is stated that voters do not vote for themselves, but for their caste. Caste-based politics in India would be strengthened further if the population was divided into several castes. Developmental concerns such as health, education, and others may be marginalised as a result of such policies.
- Rise in Demand for Reservation: A caste census would result in a demand for increased quotas and the abolition of the 50% reservation ceiling.
- Understanding the value of caste data: There should be a discussion about the caste data that currently exists, as well as how it has been utilised and interpreted by the government and its many agencies in granting and withdrawing benefits.
- It's also useful for mapping social inequality and social change, which is an essential scholarly endeavour.
- Analyzing all available data in a comprehensive manner: For a more complete study, linking and synchronising aggregated Census data with other big datasets such as the NSSO or the NFHS that cover aspects that the Census activities do not, such as maternal health, would be critical.
- Changes in the census to satisfy current demand: Experts note that Census operations throughout the world are undergoing substantial changes, with more precise, quicker, and cost-effective approaches including collaboration between various data sources.