The caste census debate

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

On Caste Based Census, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said that the Government of India has decided not to enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in Census 2021.

Caste Data Published in the Census:
  • Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but not on other castes.
  • Before that, every Census until 1931 had data on caste. However, in 1941, caste-based data was collected but not published.
  • Hence, in the absence of such a census, there is no proper estimate for the population of OBCs.
  • The Mandal Commission estimated the OBC population at 52%. Some other estimates have been based on National Sample Survey data.
About Socio-Economic Caste Census(SECC):
  • Socio-Economic Caste Census(SECC) was conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development in rural areas and the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation in urban areas.
  • The SECC data excluding caste data was finalized and published by the two ministries in 2016.
  • The raw caste data was handed over to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which formed an Expert Group under former NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson Arvind Pangaria for classification and categorisation of data. However, the report has not been made public.
About Mandal Commission:
  • Mandal Commission or the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBC) was established in 1979 with a mandate to identify the socially or educationally backward classes of India.
  • Headed by: It was headed by B.P. Mandal to consider the question of reservations for people to redress caste discrimination and used eleven social, economic, and educational indicators to determine backwardness.
  • In 1980, based on its rationale that OBCs (“Other backward classes”) identified on the basis of caste, economic and social indicators made up 52% of India’s population, the Commission’s report recommended that members of OBC be granted reservations to 27% of jobs under the Central government and public sector undertakings.
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