By Dr Satyavan Saurabh
The caste question of India needs to be dealt with urgently, otherwise, we will have to pay a heavy price not only socially, but also politically and economically and we will lag in development as well.
Caste census means caste-wise tabulation of the population belonging to all castes of India, mainly Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and not just SCs and STs.
The first separate data on Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) was published in the 1952 census. The first caste census data was released in 1931. Despite the caste census being conducted in the 2011 census, the data was not released. Reservation in educational institutions and government jobs is provided based on caste identity. The absence of fresh caste census data means that caste estimates from 1931 are being projected to formulate welfare policies in 2021. Which is redundant. The highest reservation mandate of 27% for Other Backward Classes (OBC) is caste-based as the BP Mandal Commission has found backwardness to be based on caste.
Caste system is a curse in India and has severely restricted the country’s ability to realize its immense potential and become a great nation in science, technology, knowledge, arts, sports, and economic prosperity.
Studies show that 94% of marriages in India are endogamous; 90% of small jobs are done by disadvantaged castes, while the figure is reversed in white-collar jobs. This gross lack of caste diversity, especially at the decision-making level in various sectors – media, judiciary, higher education, bureaucracy, or the corporate sector – is weakening these institutions and their performance. It is indeed strange that while caste plays such a prominent role in our social, economic, and political life, no reliable and comprehensive caste data exists for more than half of our country’s population. The purpose of the caste census is not to focus only on the issue of reservation; The caste census will indeed bring out a large number of issues that need to be addressed by any democratic country, especially the number of people who are marginalized, or who are underprivileged.
Caste census will allow policymakers to develop better policies, and implementation strategies and will also enable more rational debate on sensitive issues. It will also highlight the privileged class of the society. Caste is not only a source of disadvantage but also a very important source of privilege and advantage in our society. We have to stop thinking of caste as applying only to underprivileged people, poor people, and people who are disadvantaged in some way or the other. The contrary is also true, caste has created advantages for some communities and these also need to be recorded. No outline of all castes has been made in India since 1931. Since then, caste has acquired an important place in our lives, and our dependence on the inadequate has increased. The unequal distribution of wealth, resources, and education means a severe lack of purchasing power among the majority of Indians.
As a democratic nation, we cannot uproot this system forcibly, but we need to put it in place in a democratic, scientific manner. Our Constitution also favors conducting a caste census. Article 340 orders the appointment of a commission to investigate the conditions of the socially and educationally backward classes and make recommendations regarding steps to be taken by governments. There are a lot of myths that disenfranchise a large number of people, especially the marginalized ones. With accurate caste data, the most backward castes can be identified. Some people have benefited greatly over the years, while there are also people in this country who have not benefited at all. The Supreme Court has repeatedly asked governments to provide data related to castes; However, this has not been possible due to the unavailability of such data. As a result, our national life is plagued by mutual distrust and misunderstandings between different castes. All such commissions have had to depend on the date of the last caste census (1931). Caste has an emotional element and thus caste census has political and social implications. There have been concerns that counting caste may help strengthen or rigidify identity. Caste in India has never been a symbol of class or deprivation; this is a specific type of implicit discrimination that often transcends class.
People with Dalit surnames are less likely to be called for a job interview, even if their qualifications are better than a candidate from a higher caste. Landlords are also less likely to accept them as tenants. Hence it is difficult to measure. Marrying a well-educated, affluent Dalit man still sparks violent retribution in the families of upper-caste women across the country every day. India needs to be bold and decisive in dealing with questions of caste through data and statistics in the same way as the United States of America (US) does in dealing with issues of race, class, language, inter-racial marriage, and other issues. Is. This data provides a mirror to the state and society in which they can look at themselves and make decisions to improve. With each passing day and increasing social awareness, the need to abolish the caste system is increasingly being felt. The 21st century is the right time to solve the caste question of India, otherwise, we will have to pay a heavy price not only socially, but also politically and economically and we will lag in development.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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