The Cabinet has approved a count aimed at segmenting the population economically — below and above the poverty line — and socially into numerous caste groups.
The BPL census and the caste census is a mammoth task involving identification of the real poor in the country along with listing of caste affiliation of the entire population. The counting will begin in June.
While the last BPL census was carried out in 2002, this is the first effort to carry out caste census since 1931. Both enumeration to be carried simultaneously by the rural and urban development ministry and the Registrar General of India would cost the exchequer around R3,500 crore.
The census will be carried in phases (the first states being Orissa, Chattisgarh, Goa) and would be available in time for the 12th plan. Officials hope the exercise identifying the actual poor would put an end to doubt over the numbers claimed by the states and assist in better targeting PDS, housing schemes.
In a first, the census will be paper-free as the responses will be fed into a hand-held PC tab and the data uploaded on central server at tehsil level. The device to be supplied through Bharat Electronics Limited will cost R3,900 each and the country will need about six lakh such devices.
But there is no official word as to who will carry the census now that the Right to Education bans teachers — expect polls, decennial census — from being assigned to carry out such tasks.
For the caste census the enumerator will just have one question - what is your caste?, but the task involves exclusion or inclusion of people in case of BPL census, which is a technical process.