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Cabinet approves caste-based census
Published on 10 Sep. 2010 12:39 AM IST
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Bowing to demands by several political parties, the government on Thursday approved the inclusion of caste in census, which is likely to start from next year (2011).
According to reports, a decision in this regard was taken during a meeting of the Union Cabinet, also attended by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, where the proposal to include caste in the next census exercise was cleared by a voice vote.
The government has also reportedly earmarked Rs 2-3 thousand crores for census, which will be held independently in 2011.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters here that a suitable legal system for collection of data on caste would be formulated in consultation with the law ministry.
He said the Registrar General and Census Commissioner’s office will hand over the details of the castes/tribes to the proposed expert group.
During the door-to-door census, enumerators would only ask respondents their caste and this exercise is likely to cost the exchequer about Rs 2,000 crore. This will be in addition to the Rs 2,200 crore to be spent on the decadal, and more comprehensive, headcount.
This would also mean that there could be two population figures. One would be thrown up by the decadal headcount and another generated when the caste count is held. However, in the caste-based census, people would be free not to report their caste, which also raised concerns about some communities exaggerate their numbers.
This trend was witnessed in Nagaland in the 2001 census and the government was forced to conduct the headcount twice.
India has not done any caste-wise enumeration after independence. The last caste-wise collection of data took place in the 1931 census.

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