A group of ministers (GoM) led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will take a “political decision” on whether to include caste in the ongoing census operation.
“The GoM has been notified…. It comprises representatives from all UPA allies,” a senior government source told HT on Tuesday.
The panel has been asked to “examine the cabinet note on caste census”.
The cabinet note had sought a decision on the desirability of reversing the existing policy of not collecting individual caste data, as well as the modalities of doing so, in case such a decision was taken.
The group — which includes Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Law Minister Veerappa Moily — is being formed about a fortnight after Cabinet failed to decide if a caste headcount was desirable.
The home ministry has made it clear that it is not equipped to process the vast array of responses that a question on castes will throw up. It has sought permission to hand over the data to the ministry of social justice and empowerment.
In the 1990s, the Anthropological Survey of India made an attempt to classify all the caste names as part of its project “People of India”. The project wasn't as comprehensive as a caste census but still threw up more than 65,000 castes.