New Delhi, March 4: The Union home ministry has rejected the Bengal governments request for a caste-based census.
Census 2011 will tabulate population of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, as has been done in the past. However, it will not collect caste-based data on others, junior home minister Ajay Maken said.
The population count is set to begin this April. Several organisations had asked for a caste-based count, but the Bengal dispensation was the only state government to have made such a request.
The CPM-led state government had recently announced a policy decision to reserve 10 per cent jobs for disadvantaged sections among backward-class Muslims.
The Bengal chief ministers principal secretary, Subes Das, however, said this evening: I am not aware of any such request from the state government to the Centre. Had it been so, I would certainly have known. In our state, the only classification made is for Scheduled Castes.
In a written reply in Parliament on February 23, Maken had said: Representation/request for conducting caste base census has been received from Government of West Bengal… among others.
Maken didnt say why Bengals request had been turned down, but a highly placed source said the Centre did not want to open a Pandoras box.
The last broad-based caste census was done in 1931, after which the scope was narrowed to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to avoid divisiveness.
Officials pointed out that the Supreme Court had last April rejected the Tamil Nadu-based PMKs demand for caste-based census. The court, they said, felt that the proposed move could cause immense strife.
However, a bench of Madras High Court had in January asked the Centre to collect caste-based data as part of Census 2011. The two backward class commissions — the Kalelkar Commission and the Mandal Commission — had both based their recommendations on the 1931 figures.
The CPM had for long rejected caste-based analysis of Indian society. But a few years ago, party documents admitted to caste divisions being a reality of the countrys social structure.