'Non-census caste count nonsense'

Experts slam enumeration that does not consider socio-economic conditions

Socio-economic parameters are crucial for any policy intervention measures on reservation structure in a state like Karnataka, for there have been arguments and counter-arguments, political or otherwise, that only a section of communities have been cornering all the reservation benefits in educational institutions and government employment.

“Policy intervention like revisiting the reservation structure is possible when socio-economic status is considered. Otherwise, the data compiled will remain a headcount,” says former chairman of Karnataka Backward Classes Commission C S Dwarakanath.

True picture

The census data, however, he said will reveal the true picture on the size of various communities. “Over the years, communities in the state have been inflating their numbers for reservation benefits. We will get an exact count”, he said.

Caste been always been politicised in Karnataka. Even though the last caste census was conducted in 1931, successive governments and backward classes commissions have recommended inclusion of different communities in the reservation list. For instance, in 1951, as few as 18 castes were classified as backward classes and it rose to 165 in 1959.

The Devaraj Urs government dropped Lingayats from the backward classes list on  the recommendations of the backward classes commission headed by L G Havanur. The commission recommended Kuruba and Agasa communities got a reservation of 10 per cent. During the tenure of Ramakrishna Hegde, the T Venkataswamy commission recommended dropping Vokkaligas from the backward list. However, the community was later included again due to political compulsions.

‘Eye wash’

Constitutional expert and former chairman of the Backward Classes Commission Ravi Verma Kumar said the very purpose of holding the caste census is defeated if socio-economic data is not collected.

“It’s mere eye wash. I condemn the decision of the central government to separate caste census from population census. What is gained by caste census is lost by separating it from population census”, Kumar said. Socio-economic parameters like literacy, income, land holding, of communities will not be reflected in the data, he said.

Prof S Japhet, director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, National Law School of India University, feels that the caste census need to clubbed along with the population census in February next year. “We would be wasting Rs 2,000 crore by holding a separate caste census, when it could have been held along with population census”, he said.

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