TN CM Stalin urges PM Modi to include caste census in decadal census exercise
The DMK chief stresses on the importance of timely nationwide caste data to address social justice, equity and inclusivity.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Saturday, 21 October, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to integrate the caste census with the upcoming national decadal census.
When implemented, the initiative would be a monumental step to take the benefits of development to the most vulnerable sections and build a stronger, more inclusive India, Stalin said, writing to Modi.
Requesting Modi's personal intervention on the matter, he said integrating caste census with the proposed national decadal census alone could provide comprehensive and reliable data on the caste composition of society and its reflection in socio-economic indicators.
"This will enable evidence-based policymaking, helping all of us to ensure equitable and inclusive development. Undertaking this task concurrently with the decadal census would not only ensure comparability of data across the nation but also optimise resource utilisation," Stalin said.
"Hence, the union government should immediately plan and commence preparations for a comprehensive, nationwide caste census," the chief minister said in his letter dated October 20, 2023.
The census which was due in 2021 could not be conducted due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Stalin said that crucial caste-related data outcomes would touch the lives of crores of deserving people and therefore the census should not be delayed any further.
Some state governments such as Bihar have successfully conducted caste-based surveys while others have announced that they would take steps to initiate the process.
Although such state specific initiatives and their data outcomes are very useful in providing insights, they lack the advantage of a nationwide comparability of inputs and processes, Stalin said.
"In addition, they lack the statutory stamp without a legislative backing for such data collection since census as a subject is in the union list. Hence, we are of the considered view that only a statutory census of India, with critical caste related data inputs, would be able to provide an appropriate platform for upholding social justice," he explained.
Census data has always been the bedrock of policy framing exercises, targeting specific interventions for the socio-economic development of the underprivileged.
Since caste has historically been a key determinant of the prospects of social progress in Indian society, it is essential that factual data on it is made available in public domain, Stalin said. Only this can empower various stakeholders and policymakers to analyse the impact of our past programmes and plan strategies for the future, he added.
However, no contemporary data has been available since the last caste census conducted in India in 1931. In the past 90 years, the demographic and socio-economic landscape of our country has undergone many changes.
"But the underprivileged sections of our society continue to remain backward, in spite of numerous past policy actions. Hence, it is vital that contemporary data derived from a common standard process at the national level is cumulated to address all the pressing issues related to social justice, equity and inclusivity," the Tamil Nadu chief minister said.