No one can dispute the fact that caste is an Indian reality with the greatest depth and range. No matter how much it is hidden, it will constantly get in the daily life of an Indian. Given this, an accurate and rigorous study of the various castes is essential to understand the Indian social conditions and to apply more accuracy and discipline to administrative procedures. That is where the relevance of the concept of caste census lies. The caste census can better answer a number of questions such as what are the castes, what are the socio-economic, occupational and educational conditions of the different castes, which places are out of bounds of the state's reach and how distribution of resources take place. Caste census has long been a demand of the backward classes, who make up over 75 per cent of the Indian population. Despite the demands by three-quarters of the population, it is strange that no government is willing to do so. The Indian ruling class across the political spectrum fears the caste census. The caste census was conducted in British India until 1931. The first of the recommendations put to the government by the Kaka Kalelkar Commission in 1955 was to take a caste census from 1961 onwards. But so far no such thing has happened.
Following the controversy over the Mandal Commission report in the 1980s, the caste census became a hot topic again. During the Manmohan Singh government, it was conducted under the name Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) but its report has not been released yet. The caste census is simply a statistic. Why are we afraid of numbers? The answer is simple: those figures will reveal the Indian reality, help understand the real situation of backward communities. The authentic records of who owns the powers and resources will come out. The situation of social justice in the country three quarters of a century after independence will be revealed. Then again, it is only natural that those in power should be afraid of caste census. Some argue that there is no caste discrimination in India and everyone is treated equally, so there is no need for reservation. Ask them why then they oppose the caste census, they will not answer. Caste reservation is essential to determine to whom and to what extent reservation should be given. The Modi government introduced economic reservation by amending the Constitution, subverting social reservation. Following a law suit, Kerala government also implemented economic reservation. Thus, the so-called backward classes of the upper class also became reserved. But there is no particular basis for how they are classified. The caste census is essential to understand who are the upper class and who are the backwards among them. Therefore, the caste census is the most important tool for getting the direct picture of Indian reality.
The country has entered the new census year. The call for a caste census is emerging from many quarters. It should not be allowed to end as a cry in the wilderness. It is time backward communities together built up a movement for caste census. Signs of this are beginning to emerge in Bihar. Raising this demand, the opposition RJD has called for an agitation. Soon the ruling JDU supported it and decided to call an all-party meeting to discuss issues related to the caste census. The move could politically isolate the BJP. At the Congress' Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan, it was suggested that the party should raise the issue of caste census. As on many other issues, the Congress has not been able to make the right decision. Although the Centre does not take the caste census, the states can do it under the existing laws. Being the quickest of the states to implement economic reservation, Kerala must do it. It is essential to understand the real situation of each social group.