Karnataka caste survey report is flawed, says Lingayat body | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka caste survey report is flawed, says Lingayat body

Nov 10, 2023 07:08 AM IST

Federations representing Dalits, tribals, and OBCs have demanded that the findings of the caste census be made public

Bengaluru: Days after Vokkaliga seers rejected the 2015 Karnataka caste survey report, Lingayats, the other dominant community in the state, on Thursday expressed disapproval of the report calling it unscientific and demanded a fresh survey.

Veerashaiva Mahasabha president and senior Congress MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa labelled the 2015 Karnataka caste survey report unscientific and flawed, called for a fresh survey. (HT Archives)
Veerashaiva Mahasabha president and senior Congress MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa labelled the 2015 Karnataka caste survey report unscientific and flawed, called for a fresh survey. (HT Archives)

The Kantharaj committee’s report, often referred to as the “caste census”, has been a topic of dispute since its commissioning during the first term of chief minister Siddaramaiah. Despite its completion, no government has officially accepted the report to date.

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Veerashaiva Mahasabha president and senior Congress MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa labelled the report as ‘flawed.’ The former minister targeted his own party and claimed that the report was written in a home.

Veerashaiva Mahasabha, the apex body of the Lingayat community, held a meeting in Bengaluru where they demanded a thorough review of the report, citing flaws in the data collection process. According to Shivashankarappa, the survey was inadequately conducted and the report was crafted in a manner that underrepresented their community.

“There are many flaws in the data collected by the committee. The survey was not done at houses belonging to our community. The survey was not done satisfactorily. A fresh survey must be done scientifically with advanced technology. The report was written by sitting in a home. In the report, the population of Veerashaiva Mahasabha was shown less, it will have a severe impact on our community,” the Davanagere South MLA said.

Shivashnakarappa clarified that there were no immediate plans to lead a delegation to meet with the chief minister concerning this matter.

The opposition to the Karnataka government’s decision to accept the 2015 caste census report has grown with the prominent seers of the Vokkaliga community expressing their displeasure. Nirmalanandanatha Swami, a prominent Vokkaliga spiritual leader who led the meeting of the community leaders last week, had called the report “deeply flawed and unscientific”.

The seer said, “The current report is incomplete and could lead to injustices within various communities.” He urged the government to reconsider its decision and suggested that a comprehensive recovery of the population census is necessary to rectify the report’s deficiencies.

Meanwhile, federations representing Dalits, tribals, and other backward classes (OBC) have demanded that the findings of the caste census be made public. They allege that certain leaders from dominant communities within the government are blocking the report’s release. They argue that sharing the report’s findings would provide clarity on caste-wise population distribution, and educational, social, and economic status, potentially ending disputes over these issues.

“We’re not insisting on implementing the report. But the government must first receive it and lay it in the assembly for a discussion,” Yennegere Venkaramaiah, convener of the Backward Castes Federation, told media.

KM Ramachandrappa, a representative of the marginalised communities’ federation, has said leaders from dominant communities from within the government are obstructing the report’s release by . He added that support from marginalized communities played a pivotal role in bringing the Congress government to power.

“The control of power and wealth is currently concentrated within the hands of two dominant communities. This is a significant factor behind their opposition to the report. Once the report is made accessible to the public, it will offer a comprehensive overview of the state’s caste-wise population distribution,” he said.

The groundwork for the caste census was laid during Siddaramaiah’s initial term as chief minister when the state undertook an extensive 2015 survey costing 162 crore. The data was collected from 10.6 million households in Karnataka, involving a workforce of 160,000 personnel who visited homes across the state. Despite Siddaramaiah’s announcement to accept the report in June, its contents and the released date have remained undisclosed.

Leaked figures from the report in 2018 had stirred discontent among larger communities like Lingayats and Vokkaligas, as it indicated lower population figures than commonly believed. It’s suggested that the government delayed releasing the report after the leaks, potentially influenced by the approaching 2018 assembly elections.

The leaked data indicated that Scheduled Castes (SCs) accounted for 19.5% of the state’s total population, followed by Muslims at 16%. Lingayats and Vokkaligas represented 14% and 11% of the population, respectively. Within the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), the Kuruba community alone comprised 7% of Karnataka’s population, contributing to the OBCs’ overall representation of 20% in the state.

Collectively, these groups, including SCs, STs, Muslims, and Kurubas, formed a substantial portion of the population at 47.5%. The political implications of these findings could significantly impact the state’s political landscape, according to federations of marginalised sections.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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