The Centre has evaded questions on a fresh Socio-Economic Caste Census at a time the demand from various social groups and political parties for a nationwide caste census has been growing louder.
The rural development ministry — the nodal ministry for the 2011-12 Socio-Economic Caste Census — gave an evasive reply last month to an RTI application from The Telegraph that sought details on the progress made on conducting a fresh SECC.
“Fresh SECC is not started after SECC 2011,” the ministry said.
On the application’s request for details of the demands for a fresh SECC, as received from each state government and Union Territory, the ministry said: “Not applicable.”
The NDA government has refrained from releasing the caste data collected under SECC 2011-12, citing errors and duplication, while publishing the economic data.
Several state governments, including Bihar, have demanded a fresh caste census but the Centre has remained silent. The demand has gained strength after the Bihar government’s recent caste survey.
The findings of the Bihar survey have led the state government to get a bill passed in the Assembly raising the total reservation volume for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and the Extremely Backward Classes to 65 per cent from the existing 50 per cent.
The Congress has announced that it would hold a nationwide caste census if voted to power at the Centre in 2024.
G. Karunanidhy, secretary of the All India OBC Employees Federation, said a nationwide caste census was key to obtaining accurate data for future policy.
“There is no accurate data now on OBCs in the country. Their representation can increase in jobs and higher education if they are supported through reservation and other affirmative action. The first thing required is a caste census, which will give accurate data,” he said.
Karunanidhy referred to Union home minister Amit Shah’s recent statement that the BJP was not against a caste census.
“This statement isn’t borne out by the facts. Nobody stopped the Union government from holding a fresh census if the 2011 census data was erroneous,” he said.
Karunanidhy said the OBC communities in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bengal would now demand an increase in their quota volumes, encouraged by the example of Bihar.
Sanjay Harshwal from the Jangir Brahman Mahasabha said a nationwide caste census had become a necessity after the Bihar survey.
“Based on the caste data at the national and state levels, the reservation policy should be revisited,” he said.
“Those who have not received education or job
opportunities can hope to join the mainstream only after a caste census at the national level.”