CASTE CENSUS (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 - Population & Associated Issues

News-CRUX-10     2nd August 2023        

Context: The Patna high court dismissed a batch of PILs challenging the validity of the Bihar caste survey, terming the state government’s initiative “perfectly valid and legally competent”, and paving the way for the stalled exercise to resume after almost three months.

  • The verdict means the interim stay ordered by the HC on May 4 automatically stands vacated.
  • The bench upheld the bihar government’s contention that the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008, empowers it to conduct such an enumeration exercise in the interest of social justice. 
  • It also found substance in the state government’s submissions citing assembly debates and the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Indira Sawhney case pertaining to the rationale for reservation based on caste.

Caste Census

    • About: Caste Census is the demand to include the caste-wise tabulation of India’s population in the upcoming exercise. 
    • Background: Caste was last included in the Indian Census in 1931 at the time by the Britishers. 
      • From 1951 to 2011, every census in independent India provided data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but not on other castes. 
      • The Britishers ended the practice in the 1941 Census, citing cost restrictions. 
  • Importance of Cast Census:
    • Equitable representation
    • Enumerating the marginalised
    • Removes caste rigidities
    • Data for Policy Making
    • Judicial support
  • Implications: In the absence of such a census, there is no reliable estimate of the number of OBCs, other categories within OBCs, and others.
  • SECC 2011:  Conducted in 2011 for the first time since 1931.
    • It is meant to canvass every Indian family, both in rural and urban India, and ask about their Economic status and specific caste name.
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