India urgently needs a caste census – so why isn’t the Modi government allowing one? – By Shoaib Daniyal
On July 20, the Modi government told Parliament that it had decided to not conduct a caste census. The only caste-wise data the next census would collate would be on Dalits and Adivasis, the same as every census in independent India’s history. India’s largest caste bloc – the other backward classes – would not figure in the exercise.
Delivered as an answer to a written question by Union minister of state for Home Nityanand Rai, the answer did not attract a great deal of attention. Despite this, a caste census is vital for India. Large government programmes as well as much of popular politics is often built on the architecture of caste – an inevitable reflection of the unique role this institution plays in Indian society.
For the Modi government to then refuse to count caste in India’s census is inexplicable. It is a decision that will hurt governance as well as social equity….