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Caste census to be held separately

India will go for a stand-alone caste census, likely to be held in mid-2011.

delhi Updated: Sep 03, 2010 01:32 IST
Aloke Tikku

India will go for a stand-alone caste census, likely to be held in mid-2011.

The home ministry has sought cabinet approval for an independent caste count to be conducted around June 2011, four months after the decadal headcount is completed through February.

The proposal is grounded in the recommendations of the Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that was tasked to take a call on the modalities of counting castes. Mukherjee told Lok Sabha this week that the GoM had decided to go for “house enumeration” and the government had more or less decided on the modalities.

The Union Cabinet is expected to seal the plan at its next meeting. The data collection and colla-tion exercise is expected to be completed in three to four months.

Government sources said the door-to-door census — where enumerators would only ask respondents their caste — would cost the exchequer about R2,000 crore. This will be in addition to the R2,200 crore to be spent on the decadal, and more comprehensive, headcount.

This would mean there could be two population figures. One would be thrown up by the decadal headcount and another generated when the caste count is held. "The first one will be treated as the base, credible population figure," a government official said.

While people would be free not to report their caste, fears that some communities would exaggerate their numbers — as happened in Nagaland in the 2001 census — has forced the government to conduct the headcount twice.