PMK urges Centre to go for caste-wise headcount

Founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) Dr S Ramadoss. DH photo

PMK founder-leader S Ramadoss on Saturday urged the Centre to undertake the 2021 census operation through caste-wise enumeration to ensure social justice to all sections of people.

Contrary to the Centre's assurances, news reports suggest that the census exercise would not include identification of Other Backward Classes and this was "shocking," he said. Citing the census pre-test exercise which is set to commence soon, he said the software to be used for enumeration does not have features to separately count the OBCs. It has not been made clear if the main enumeration exercise would have facilities to record details of OBCs, he said.

Usually, the model followed in pre-test would be reprised in the main exercise and going by that norm, the key exercise too would not have data on OBCs and this would be a "betrayal of the OBCs," he said in a statement. The pre-test exercise for census 2021 would be conducted in Tamil Nadu from August 12 to September 30 in Coonoor (Nilgiris district), Maraimalainagar (Kancheepuram) and Ilayangudi (Sivaganga).

Citing the Rohini Commission set up by the Centre in 2017 to examine sub-categorisation of the OBCs, he said to determine reservation - under a new mechanism expected in future after the panel's report- for each caste their count was necessary. Also, a caste-based census is necessary to determine the population of poor in the forward castes since 10 per cent quota has been given for them, he said.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh had last year announced that the census 2021 would identify the OBCs and if the enumeration was not done as per the earlier assurance, "it will create a barrier for all sections of people to get social justice." Pointing out that a caste-wise headcount was not done after 1931, the PMK chief said this led to a dearth of data which created unnecessary problems in areas including a quota for OBCs. Recalling the efforts made by his party to get the 2011 census done on caste lines, he said though the UPA-II government initially agreed, later it was not done. Instead, by going in for a socio-economic and caste Census, the then UPA government "deceived the people," and it was a "good for nothing ritual," he alleged. 

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