ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why Count Caste in the Census of 2011?

Satish Deshpande and Mary E John in “The Politics of Not Counting Caste” (19 June) argue very forcefully for the inclusion of caste in the 2011 Census. Various types of caste inequality and injustice still prevail in Indian society and caste continues to be an important social reality. In that light including caste in the census is justified.

However, as a demographer and having a keen interest in the census, I have some points to raise in regard to the enumeration of caste in the Census of 2011. First, a decision on the inclusion of caste in the next census is getting delayed as the Ministry of Home Affairs has not issued the necessary order as yet to the census commissioner of India. As we are all aware, the first phase of census operations, i e, the house listing, started on 1 April and will be completed by the end of July. The actual census count will begin on 9 February and end on 28 February 2011. We are very close to the event. The census commissioner has to decide very soon on questions which will be included in the individual slip. Deshpande and John suggest that questions like “What is the name of your caste?”, and a follow-up question like “Is your caste known by any other names in your locality?”, should be included. They also suggest inclusion of an additional question on the family surname to aid tabulation and groupings later on.

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