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Caste census UPSC NOTE

 Caste census

  • One of the justifications for a caste census is that Indian society is highly diversified and exclusionary

  • Very few countries have a group-specific policy like we have. 

  • We combine policies that are focused on individuals and at the same time we focus on groups as a whole

  • Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase in demand for group-specific policies: for certain SCs, STs, OBCs, those above OBCs such as the Patels and Marathas, and now low-income groups, and women. 

  • That is simply because of the character of our society where certain groups face discrimination from having an equal access to opportunity and equal rights.

  • Increasingly, the issue is that the government is surrendering to some groups due to pressure and providing group-specific policies without sufficient information. 

  • If we want to have group-specific policies, we should have group-specific information about human development indicators, poverty, income, malnutrition, education, and ownership of means of production.

  • It is the British who introduced proportionate representation to certain sections of society

  • It was also supported by B.R. Ambedkar in States and Minorities: he made a strong case for representation proportionate to the population. 

  • In fact, he wanted erstwhile depressed classes to also be categorised as minorities

  • And depending on the proportion of population, he demanded representation

  • That was strongly opposed by the Congress and was not adopted in the Constitution

  • Instead, a principle of affirmative action was introduced for certain sections of society, for certain needs, that is, education and employment, which would ensure their justice and development. This was done unanimously.

  • India is a Republic which recognises equality among citizens. 

  • Caste is not recognised as a unit in the Constitution. 

  • If it is recognised, it is only to the extent of certain policies for affirmative action.

  • ‘Jitni abadi, utna haq’ (the rights of a group are proportionate to the group’s share in the total population) is also unimplementable

  • We are already encountering enormous difficulties in ensuring reservation even for groups such as SCs. 

  • There is a strong demand for sub-categorisation among Dalits, tribal groups, and OBCs

  • This is because there is a strong feeling among beneficiary categories that some sub-category is taking a much larger share of the benefits and depriving others

  • For instance, the Madigas in Telangana are demanding sub-categorisation because they believe that the Malas, who are fewer in number, are getting more benefits

  • The Rohini Commission’s initial findings also show that there is a tremendous imbalance even among the beneficiary groups

  • Affirmative action has some justification within certain frameworks

  • But jitni abadi utna haq is a divisive and unconstitutional concept

  • If anyone tried to implement it, it can create social chaos

Ambedkar’s View

  • Dr. Ambedkar’s position was that if the reservation share of the SCs, STs (Scheduled Tribes) has to be defined, it should be in proportion to the social, economic, and educational standing of the group

  • He was not strictly in support of the population as an indicator for representation

  • He dealt with reservation in the legislature and said that it should be in proportion to the socioeconomic standing of the group

  • He said that the majority seats in the legislature should be reduced to a certain extent and redistributed among the social and religious minorities. 

  • And the redistribution of seats, which will also apply to jobs, should be in proportion to the economic and social standing. 

  • Nevertheless, population comes in. Because in the absence of the other indicators, at that time, population was considered to be a tentative indicator of a fair representation of a group

  • But that doesn’t mean that it should be the ultimate indicator.

  • The second point is the reservation issue by social group. 

  • There is a distinction between pro-poor policies, irrespective of caste, religion, ethnicity, gender, and policies for those who are discriminated against.

  • Affirmative action policies are necessary in addition to general policies, which are applicable to all, only for those groups which have suffered from discrimination

  • So, as far as reservation is concerned, in India one will have to have a policy that is for economic and educational empowerment for all, irrespective of caste and religion, and an additional policy for the group that is discriminated against

  • Ambedkar did not ask for reservation only in the public sector. 

  • He also asked for it in the private sector because discrimination is more rampant in the private sector than the public sector

Need of caste census

  • A caste census is welcome because it will reveal how many people belong to which caste or sub caste and their relative backwardness or progression

  • It will then show government and society what actions are needed for us to move towards greater equality

  • The caste census will also, among other things, reveal how certain castes who were earlier deprived and discriminated against have moved on. 

  • Let us not be under the illusion or misconception that all the SCs are as discriminated against as they were 70 years ago. 

  • There is a certain section of SCs which has moved on, a section of OBCs that has moved on.

  • The concept of a creamy layer should also now be applied to the SCs

  • So, these are the larger issues that will be revealed by the caste census

  • Similarly, there are other so-called non-OBCs or upper castes who are poor

  • So, we need to therefore take a holistic view and not go in the direction that divides our society



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Caste census UPSC NOTE
Caste census UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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