Caste Census of Backward Classes difficult
Part of: Prelims and GS – II- Governance
Context: The government has made it clear in the Supreme Court that a caste census of the Backward Classes is “administratively difficult and cumbersome”.
Key Arguments by the Centre
- The Centre reasoned that even when the census of castes were taken in the pre-Independence period, the data suffered in respect of “completeness and accuracy”.
- Government has also said the caste data enumerated in the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) of 2011 is “unusable” for official purposes as they are “replete with technical flaws”.
- The Centre said the raw caste/tribe data of 2011 was unusable. For example, Mappilas in Malabar region of Kerala were spelt in 40 different ways, resulting in the listing of 40 different castes.
- SECC caste data is stored in the Office of the Registrar General and has not been made public (Economic Data of SECC is published).
- The government said caste-wise enumeration in the decennial Census was given up as a matter of policy from 1951 as a policy of “official discouragement of caste”.
What is Census?
- In Census (decennial census), data is collected on demographic and various socio-economic parameters like education, SC/ST, religion, language, marriage, fertility, disability, occupation and migration of the individuals.
- Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India is responsible for carrying out the census.
- It provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
- The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881. Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
- As per the official Gazette, the individual data collected in Census under the Census Act, 1948, are not made public as per the provisions contained in the Act.
- The individual data are not used for the preparation of any other database, including the National Register of Citizens.
- Only the aggregated Census data at various administrative levels are released.
- Owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Census 2021 and other Census-related field activities have been postponed until further orders.