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Tamil Nadu Assembly passes resolution in favour of caste census

The assembly resolution comes after caste census was one of the key issues raised by the I.N.D.I.A. alliance bloc during the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Almost all constituents of the Opposition alliance, including Congress, want enumeration of caste to be done along with the population census.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 08:32 IST

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Chennai: Highlighting the limitations of state governments in collecting data on caste and drafting laws based on them which could face legal challenges, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Wednesday nudged the Union Government to begin work on conducting the decennial population Census, which is due from 2021, along with enumeration of caste.

Moving a resolution in the Assembly, which was passed after a discussion, Stalin said the House considers that caste-based population census is essential to formulate policies in order to ensure equal rights and equal opportunities in education, economy and employment to every citizen.

“This House, therefore unanimously urges the Union Government to immediately commence the census work, which is due from the year 2021 along with caste-based population census, this time,” the resolution read with Chief Minister Stalin asserting that the DMK had always been in support for the demand to conduct a Caste Census.

In his speech, Stalin said only decisions that are taken on account of data enumerated by the Union Government will have “legal protection”, while decision taken by state governments based on surveys always have the risk of being struck down by courts.

The assembly resolution comes after caste census was one of the key issues raised by the I.N.D.I.A. alliance bloc during the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Almost all constituents of the Opposition alliance, including Congress, want enumeration of caste to be done along with the population census.

Referring to the contention by many political parties that state governments are also empowered to conduct caste census, Stalin said according to Section 3 of The Census Act, 1948, only the Union Government is empowered to conduct population Census.

“Many say that state governments are empowered to conduct caste census under the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. This Act has only facilitated state governments to collect data about socio-economic of people. Under part A of Section 3 of the Act, state governments cannot collect data on communities listed under 7th Schedule of the Constitution,” Stalin said.

Moreover, Section 32 of the Act says Census data under The Census Act cannot be collected and a case in this regard is pending before the Supreme Court, Stalin said.

“Like many people think, it is not possible to collect Census data under the Collection of Statistics Act. The only option is conduct of Population Census by the Union Government. That’s why we insist that caste census should be conducted by the Centre,” Stalin said, and questioned the delay in conducting the 2021 decennial Census by the BJP government.

“In 2020, the Centre cited Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for not conducting the Census. What is stopping the Centre from conducting the exercise since 2021?” he asked and recalled his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 20, 2023 demanding caste census.

The inordinate delay by the Union Government in conducting the decennial Census – this is the first time that the population enumeration exercise has been delayed in about a century and there is no word on when the exercise will begin -- has put several schemes in limbo.

This has resulted in the delay of at least 15 vital data sets, including on health, demography, and economy, besides hurting the quality of surveys by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).

In the wake of junking two surveys on consumption expenditure and employment due to ‘data quality’ issues, the Union Government in August 2023 revamped the Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) to review the extant framework and to address the issues raised from time to time on the subject/results /methodology, and to advise on survey methodology including sampling frame, and sampling design.

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Published 26 June 2024, 08:32 IST

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