Wary Karnataka government all set to scrap caste census

However, access was denied, reigniting a debate on the findings of the census — which now might never see the light of day.

With the government denying permission to one of its own departments to access the Social and Educational Survey-2015 findings, known as the caste census, indications are that it will continue to gather dust, before it is finally junked.

The controversial census, which was the first since 1931, was carried out by Karnataka Backward Classes Commission in 2015 when the Siddaramaiah-led Congress was in power. About Rs 158 crore was spent on the exercise and there have been repeated demands that its findings be made public. 

During the recent Cabinet meeting, the Planning and Statistics Department petitioned the government to grant access to “some information” collected in the census “for the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal indicators”. The data, officials hoped, would help in delivery and monitoring of various schemes aimed at different sections of population.

However, access was denied, reigniting a debate on the findings of the census — which now might never see the light of day.

Former backward classes commission chairman C S Dwarakanath demanded that the findings of the survey carried out using people’s tax money “be made public”. “Whether the government accepts or rejects it is a different question. Accepting the findings of the report will only help the government in identifying backward communities and designing programmes for their welfare,” he said.

When contacted, Backward Classes Secretary Mohammed Mohsin dismissed claims that the report will be scrapped. “Since the report has not been submitted to the government, there is no question of scrapping it,” he said, adding that Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had sought to discuss the matter in the coming days. Successive governments have been wary of the findings in the report as it challenged the political rhetoric regarding the two most dominant communities — Lingayats and Vokkaligas.

“Since the survey has collected data on sub-castes too, numbering around 1,400, the findings  debunked claims about populations of various groups. The government is also afraid that sub-castes of a particular community can use the survey to demand reservation. Satisfying the demands of any one community will be like opening a Pandora’s box,” an official said.

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