Caste Census: Politically Threatening or a Logistical Hurdle?
1931 is the last time that an OBC column existed in the national census. Why has it been avoided for so many long?
In a show of rare unity amid the ruckus in Parliament over Pegasus and farm laws, the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill was passed unanimously on 10 August.
The bill, which comes as a corrective measure for the 102 Amendment of 2018, restores the powers of state governments to make their own lists for the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) or OBC’s.
However, amid the debate on the OBC bill, the BJP was left red-faced after one of its own MPs Sanghmitra Maurya from UP’s Badaun seat, raised the need for a caste-based census. In her speech, she stated that 'even cattle have been counted in several states but not backward classes'.
The MP’s statements put the BJP in an uncomfortable spot since it came just a few days after Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai stated outright in Lok Sabha on 20 July that the upcoming census will not enumerate caste wise population other SCs and STs.
To make matters worse for the BJP in the run up to the Uttar Pradesh elections, NDA allies JD(U in Bihar), and Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh, have demanded a caste based census as well.
So why is the Modi government hesitating to conduct a census exercise which may benefit the large number of government-backed national schemes that are aimed to benefit the OBCs? Is it politically threatening or is it a logistical hurdle?
To discuss the debate surrounding the caste census, for today’s episode, we spoke to political scientist and former professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Sudha Pai.
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