Monday, June 7

CASTE BASED CENSUS: SHOULD WE FALL INTO THE TRAP?


Date- June 6,  2007
Time- 10:30 PM
Good evening gentlemen!  Well this may sound too formal and mature; isn’t it? But, discussing a topic as contentious as the ‘caste based census’ requires such mature state of mind which is free from presumptions and prejudices and willing to incorporate new ideas, ideas which are pertinent to take ourselves to an altogether different  path of prosperity, but might be radical and unacceptable to the present narrow minded society.
Friends, we have to unfortunately live with the fact that casteism runs deep into Indian society and has its roots everywhere. It is not a new age phenomenon. It was present thousands of year before and it is still prevalent, albeit with greater acceptance.
I remember an incident from my childhood. When I was in class three, I had a group of friends, mostly belonging to upper castes. One day we heard that MCC had killed a number of Bhumihar Brahmins in Jahanabad district of Bihar.  We were discussing this. Suddenly one of my friends’ brother who was elder to us told that Ranbir Sena would take the revenge by  killing all those bastards who had committed the heinous act. He also told that Ranbir Sena was savior for the upper castes’ people. Unaware of all these facts, I was puzzled. At that time I didn’t realise the gravity of situation. Now, when I reflect on this, I feel, even the immature minds of our children are not spared when it comes to casteism. This venom is fed into their minds right from their childhood by their own family members and the members of society. By the time they reach adulthood, they no longer remain unaffected by casteism.
Many of you might be wondering that I have diverted from the topic as  our topic is ‘caste based census’ not casteism. But, to understand the cries and hues surrounding the census, we will have to know what the ground realities are. One of the most blunt truth is that we all practise casteism, consciously or subconsciously. A few of us being intellectually more nuanced, filter out the feelings. This census is generating so much controversy because it is being perceived as an asset by a few people while a few others view this as a threat. Those who are against the caste based census (the list includes me too), feel that it is another attempt to widen the gap between people and create rift in the society which has already become fragile.  For the supporters of this census, it is an honest effort to strengthen the identity of socially deprived. According to them, it will also be a basis for distributing the benefits of various social schemes effectively. But a nice intention is one thing and understanding the consequences of one’s action is another. I do not doubt intention, I doubt the narrow outlook that the supporters of the census are taking in relation to this. They are unable to foresee the problems that will arise in the future.The census will futhur the divisions in the society. Do we want our children to fight for castes!
I have few questions in my mind and I would like their answers from the census' supporters.
§  If this is so important, why was it discontinued? Remember, the last such census was done in 1931.
§  How much is this going to help in uplifting people from backward communities through social schemes when the real problem lies not in ‘whether we know the exact number of people belonging to different castes or not’ but in the delivery mechanism?
§   Isn’t it just another attempt by our politicians to take the political mileage for advancing their career?

Friends, we must not fall into this dangerous trap. At the time when INDIANS should be discussing about the ways and means to take our country to new levels of development, we are made to waste our resources and energy in such hypocritical acts. It’s high time that we think how much is ‘caste based census’ advancing our developmental goals.  We all have one identity. We all are Indians. All the rest should be inconsequential to us.

Caste based census is a politically motivated attempt to garner more votes; another instance of the divide and rule policy being followed by the current politicians to keep power in their hands. I once again emphasise the point that this census is not a panacea to our problems. The losses far outweigh the benefits.  THIS SHOULD NOT BE PUT INTO ACTION.

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