India's G20 presidency reveals NDA govt's failure to conduct census: Congress
The Congress demanded the government to stop denying 14 crore Indians their basic rights under the NFSA, increase the beneficiary quota until the Census is carried out
Congress on Friday said the start of the 18th summit with India’s rotational presidency is a moment for reflection, revealing one of the "biggest failures of the NDA (No Data Available) government" as it has failed to conduct the "decadal Census" that was due in 2021 due to which an estimated 14 crore citizens are excluded from their food entitlements.
The Congress also demanded the government to stop denying 14 crore Indians their basic rights under the NFSA, increase the beneficiary quota until the Census is carried out, conduct an updated national caste census and end of suppression of data inconvenient to the government.
Hitting back at the government for not conducting census, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said: "The start of the 18th G20 summit today with India’s rotational presidency is a moment for reflection, revealing one of the biggest failures of the NDA (No Data Available) Government -- it has failed to conduct the decadal Census that was due in 2021."
He said that nearly, every other G20 country has managed to conduct the census, despite Covid-19, including other developing countries like Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa.
"The Modi government is so inept and incompetent that it has been unable to carry out India’s most important statistical exercise that has been conducted on schedule since 1951. This is an unprecedented failure in the history of our nation," the Congress communication in-charge said.
He said that the Modi government’s failure to conduct the census has led to an estimated 14 crore (140 million) Indians being excluded from their food entitlements, according to a recent media report.
"This is a categorical denial of a fundamental right to the citizen guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, which was implemented by the UPA government through the landmark National Food Security Act (NFSA). The Modi government was forced to rely on the NFSA as a critical lifeline for families across India, providing the much needed safety net for the poorest during the COVID19 pandemic," he said.
Ramesh said that since the Modi government failed to conduct the census in 2021, it only offers NFSA coverage to 81 crore people based on the 2011 Census, whereas 95 crore Indians are entitled to the NFSA coverage, going by the current estimates of population.
He said that due to no census work carried out new beneficiaries are not being added and in July 2022, the Supreme Court had noted this issue and directed the Modi government to rectify this untenable situation by using population projections.
"But no change was made. This massive failure shows not only the Prime Minister’s contempt for the Supreme Court, but his disdain for the Constitutional rights of the people of India," he alleged.
He also accused the government and said that the Socio-Economic Caste Census that was conducted by the UPA government in 2011 remains suppressed.
"It has even opposed the Bihar government’s attempt at a state-level Caste Census in the Supreme Court," Ramesh said, adding that as highlighted by former party chief Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and reiterated by the Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge in a letter to the Prime Minister on April 16, 2023, it is absolutely critical to have an up-to-date and reliable Caste Census.
"Without establishing the count, categorisation and characterisation of the most numerous OBC population, it is impossible to ensure adequate development and social justice for all Indians. We firmly believe in the principle of parity not charity, for which the Caste Census is essential," he said.
He also cited the examples of the National Sample Survey 2017-18 on unemployment data and the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of 2019-20 on open defecation and the prevalence of anaemia and said that the government discredits collecting any data that it finds inconvenient to its narrative.
Putting forth the demands of the party Ramesh said, "Stop denying 14 crore Indians their basic rights under the NFSA, and increase the beneficiary quota until the census is carried out. Conduct an updated national caste census, and stop opposing statelevel caste census efforts. And end the suppression of data inconvenient to the government, like the 2017-18 NSS and the 2022-23 CES, stop manipulating NFHS to hide failures in health indicators, and restore faith in India’s historically robust statistical system."
Published: 08 Sep 2023, 1:04 PM