With political parties supporting a caste census without jeopardising the integrity of the decennial headcount, the government is expected to link the caste count to collection of biometric details beginning later this year.
The Group of Ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to take a formal call on the caste count over the next few days. “The group will meet within a week,” a senior government functionary said.
The home ministry, that has been uncomfortable at the prospect of linking the caste question to the headcount next February, had made it clear earlier that any link to caste would jeopardise the census data.
The home ministry officials said this concern was largely addressed when the BJP agreed that the question on caste should be canvassed and at such stage that it does not affect the integrity of the headcount.
The only window in the census exercise that fits this stipulation is the biometric data collection for the National Population Register.
This exercise would see camps being set up across the country, beginning November, to collect fingerprints and Iris scan of people.
The home ministry is also expected to stick to its position that they would not want to take on the onerous responsibility of processing the data generated. “A question what is your caste would throw up more than one lakh categories of responses that would need to be analysed by experts to classify them,” a government official said.