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

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Caste Census and Constitutional Justice

Counting castes among the population is a more complex and contradictory affair than thus far imagined by its proponents and opponents. The opponents present it as an affair of expediency, not of justice; the proponents valorise it in terms of a realistic Utopia remoulding sovereign power towards an "ethical" state-formation.

Elements of this text were shared at a conference organised by the UGC and the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, National Law School of India University, Bangalore (23 July 2010).

Reading contemporary events, especially those fraught with future histories, is never easy. It is therefore unsurprising that the recent parliamentary debates and the proceedings of the Group of Minister (GOM) on counting caste in the Census of 2011 remain open to vary different readings. Some suggest that the original intention was to count the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), others insist that it was counting all castes.

Only a future narrative of this tangled web of political “evetness” may unravel the complete story.1 The decision of the GOM at the time of writing is not a castebased national “census” but enumeration in the National Population Register, which has attracted an anguished contention from those who endorse counting castes (see “Open Letter to the GOM”, Hindu, 13 August 2010).

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