Worried over moves to include caste enumeration in the 2011 Census, a civil society group called ‘Meri Jaati Hindustani’ — supported by political veterans like former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar and former Union minister Arif Mohammed Khan — has launched a countrywide movement against the “regressive proposal”.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani and senior journalist B G Varghese are among the group’s patrons, which also include noted dancers Sonal Mansingh and Uma Sharma.
“If implemented, the proposal will transform India into a conglomeration of warring castes and communities and destroy the country’s vision of the 21st century, taking it back to medieval times”, says the group’s mission statement, released at a press conference on Friday.
Speaking at the conference, Jakhar said there should be made no difference between man and man. He appealed to the political class to refrain from “sacrificing the country for small political gains”.
Khan pointed out that the founding fathers of the Constitution had specifically abolished untouchability and a separate electorate as they realised the divisive potential of caste and community.
Khan said that the issue was sought to be exploited by a section of the political class, as successive governments had failed to ensure dignity for citizens in the past 60 years. “What we are witnessing is a rat race for reservations,” he added.
“It is extremely distressing that more than 60 years after Independence, the government appears to be inclined to revive the old British colonial practice of caste enumeration. This will cause deep fissures in society and weaken the sense of Indian nationhood”, group convener Ved Pratap Vaidik said at a press conference on Friday.
A delegation will seek an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to forward their ideas on the issue, which has caused divide among both political class and intelligentsia.