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Govt okays caste-based census
New Delhi, May 19 (IANS):
Published on 20 May. 2011 12:13 AM IST
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The government of India Thursday approved the carrying out of a survey to identify the number of people living below poverty line, as well as the head counts for various caste and religious groups. “The union cabinet approved the conduct of BPL (below poverty line) census in rural and urban areas,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters here.
She added that the census on caste and religion will also take place “simultaneously”. The financial approval for conducting the survey is still in process.
For the first time ever, the BPL survey, which takes place every five years, will include urban households. The exercise will be carried out jointly by the ministries of rural development and housing and urban poverty alleviation, and the registrar general and census commissioner of India.
The previous BPL surveys were conducted in 1992, 1997 and 2002. The last one was supposed to have been conducted in 2007, but it could not be done due to a court case which vacated a stay only in 2006. The survey is expected to begin June and will be wrapped up by December, officials said. Around 14 lakh enumerators and data collectors will be involved in the mammoth process.
For the first time, a low-cost tablet personal computer, manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited, will be used by the enumerators to directly input the data which will be then uploaded into the database. “The results of the BPL census would be utilized in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17),” said Soni.
Census enumerators will distribute questionnaires regarding caste and religion asking just two questions to respondents: What is your caste and what is your religion?
For the BPL survey, the rural and urban population will have separate criteria. “The rural population will be divided into three categories. The first one is the exclusion category, by which they will be deemed to be removed from BPL list. Secondly, there will be automatic inclusion of some groups. The rest of the population will be ranked on the basis of seven deprivation indicators,” said Sanjay Kumar Rakesh, jt. secretary ministry of rural development.
The survey will be conducted by state government employees, from panchayat members to patwaris (revenue officials) and even workers under the rural employment guarantee act. “We cannot rope in teachers due to the Right to Education Act,” he said.

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