State Favors Caste Census

Odisha Government will move the Government of India to go for Socio Economic Caste (SEC) Enumeration along with Census 2021.

State Cabinet in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held on 11 January 2020, has unanimously resolved to move the Government of India that a Socio-Economic Caste Enumeration be conducted simultaneously along with the General Census.

Pratap Jena, Minister Law briefed Media after the Cabinet meeting at Lokseva Bhawan.

He said this is to be done either by inserting suitable columns in the Census format or by prescribing a separate format for a simultaneous enumeration of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Other Backward Classes/Castes.

Minister said that it was also resolved to impress upon the Central Government to ensure that these enumeration details are published without any delay.

This shall enable State Government to accelerate the pace of development of these communities leading to inclusive growth with greater momentum, said he.

State Government has taken cue from Mahatma Gandhi, Father of our Nation, who  considered economic equality to be the master-key to complete independence. He said “My idea of society is that while we are born equal, meaning that we have a right to equal opportunity…...”

The makers of Indian Constitution took cognizance of this reality and sought to address the challenges through enabling Constitutional provisions. Article 15(4) of the Constitution of India enables the State to make any special provision for the advancement of any socially, and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Article 46 provides that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Besides, Article 16 (4) enables the State to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.

The social fabric of Odisha is diverse and plural and the State represents the core of pluralism of the Indian social system since time immemorial. During its 83 years of existence as a modern State of India, Odisha has come a long way in terms of development in various sectors.

While Odisha has made appreciable progress in improving the Human Development indicators of these sections of society, especially during the last two decades, there is a need to further accelerate this process of inclusive growth and transformation. In this context the Cabinet observed that no formal census including the caste details of the population has been done since 1931.

Unavailability of reliable and authentic data about the exact numbers of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Other Backward Classes/Castes, geographical areas of their spread and density has been a huge challenge in ensuring focussed and outcome specific planning.

The necessity of having such data was well appreciated by the Government of India as evident from the Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011. The Cabinet also took note of the fact that in the proposed formats for 2021 census, there is no provision to capture the details of the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes and Other Backward Classes/Castes despite having done such exercise in the SECC 2011, the full data from which is yet to be released.

Minister said that “as we are commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, this will be a fitting tribute to his idea of India guided by his Talisman in which the welfare of the poorest and the weakest becomes the core objective of the State”.

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