Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lok Satta Party urges, “Say NO to Caste!”

Lok Satta Party today expressed serious concern with the decision taken by the Government of India to include Caste in the Census of 2011. This, if implemented as is, would prove a grave threat to the unity and integrity of the country. It will, particularly, adversely affect the younger generation who want to rise about narrow considerations of caste and creed.

The scheme of using caste and religion to accentuate differences among people and thereby contain the fervour of nationalism was mastered by the British, who employed it for over a century. The strategy not only helped the colonials perpetuate their rule but also ended up in the partition of the country.

Realising the divisive tendencies of caste and religion, the founding fathers of our nation had specifically put an end to the system of separate electorates which could unnecessarily bring the colour of caste or religion to election campaigns. Even despite this, we currently see such an overwhelming propagation of caste and religious identities in our election campaigns.

Today, we increasingly see political parties fielding candidates not based on their work and capabilities but because they belong to a caste or religion. Elections are being won not by seeking majority votes but because candidates are able to garner those 20% votes from a particular caste, which prove just enough to win an election. This is the state which our representative democracy has been brought down to.

It is, therefore, extremely distressing that after more than sixty years of our independence, there are now attempts to revive the old British colonial practice of caste enumeration. Lok Satta believes that the presence of caste data is only going to strengthen the hands of caste fundamentalists. And in the end what will suffer most is the development of our country!

It is a dubious justification that caste data needs to be collected for perfecting the policy of reservations. Lok Satta strongly believes and supports the up-liftment of disadvantaged sections of our country through reservations. But with most states having already exhausted the 50% limit for reservations prescribed by the Supreme Court, there is no scope for caste data to make any contribution to the existing reservation policy. In fact in the context of caste census, we believe, reservations are being forcefully associated only to fire people’s emotions and arouse primordial loyalties.

Against this background, with politicians of most stripes inclined to inflame our passions, the responsibility to uphold the unity and integrity of the nation falls on the citizens themselves. Lok Satta therefore appeals to fellow citizens to realize the dangers inherent in caste-based Census and stand up jointly to protect India’s unity and integrity. We can do this in one simple step:


By this single Act, the people themselves can ensure that caste census, which seeks to take us back to medieval times, will never become a reality. Caste census has nothing to do with reservations, and by saying ‘NO’ to caste, the deserving citizens are not in any way deprived of the benefit of reservations. Remember, we had reservations so far, and there was no caste census until now after independence. It is unfortunate that the Government of India, which should be leading the evolution away from caste-based thinking, is on the contrary perpetuating it. It is now up to the people to signal their disaffection with this decision, and to insist upon their right to be unclassified, undifferentiated Indians.

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