Its census time guys ! Yeah its not easy to count everyone in a country whose population easily exceeds the billion mark. The Indian president will be numero uno on the list. After that they’ll have to count everyone ! You , me , that annoying guy who spits paan on the street , the homeless lepr , the aging widow in the village who hardly steps out of her home, the gypsy who hardly stays in one place, the nth holy fraudulent swami, the long forgotten prisoner and so on.
Its no easy task and it does not end with just counting. Data has to be collected on literacy rates, infant and maternal mortality, language , religion, disability, migration , urbanization and a plethora of other issues which for the 1st time will be stored in national population register . Unique Identification Numbers and biometric cards will be provided once this register is completed. The budgets for these projects run into thousands of crores (2209 crore for the census operation and 3539.24 crores for the NPR) source : NDTV. The census commissioner C Chandramouli seems to be taking his up his job , described by P Chidambaram as the “biggest exercise since humankind came into existence” pretty cheerfully. His website boldly declares “We also count people in India” like its just something they do for entertainment after a friday evening of beer and music.
The very interesting line here is the government’s proud declaration that no information will be collected on caste. Well well , we are removing caste from our political and social equations are we ? I would be the first one to celebrate, I’d probably jump up and down, run down the streets and hug everyone I meet. I find it a premature reaction though. Does no’t caste based legislations occur ? Isn’t everything from seats in educational institutions to legislative assemblies reserved based on caste. Whence then cometh the need to eliminate caste based data collection ? So, Is the government saying, “We need not know anything about the demographics of the castes but we will still conjure up our wild and wicked fantasies and legislate based on them” . There are lot of notable excuses too, one gentleman at the home ministry graciously turns our attention to the visible problem of dishonesty while reporting caste. My dear friend, If they fool you so well during a census, how are you so sure when you present them proudly displayable certificates of excellence with the alphabet soup of SC , ST , OBC stamped across them? What if I declare that my ancient cult of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, may the sauce be upon him, is highly depressed and oppressed though having a large number of followers and we need reservation to protect us ? Ah maybe that would be fine because they collect data on religions, just not caste. The census website though does declare that they collect data on the SC and ST. Maybe its not politically correct to call them castes anymore.
Maybe this is just a problem which occurs when census activities are started on the 1st of April. All said, I highly appreciate the depth and breadth of this time’s census undertaking. Let us all hope it gives us a large storehouse of data with which decisions to steer the nation can be made with sounder reasoning.
— The bull