India India Census Update: Religion, Caste, Poverty. Biometric Enrollment To Commence


1947-2014 (Archived)
Poverty, Caste and Religion to be Simultaneously Mapped


A nationwide survey that will simultaneously map the economic, caste and religious backgrounds of the entire population was approved by the Union Cabinet on Thursday. The survey marks two firsts: firstly, in a break with past practice, the Below Poverty Line (BPL) Census has been widened to include urban areas; earlier, it was restricted to rural India. Secondly, the caste headcount, which will be conducted simultaneously with the BPL census, will be done for the first time after 1931.

Announcing the Cabinet decision, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told journalists, “This completely fulfils the assurance given by the government in Parliament to the Opposition parties to have a caste-based census along with the socio-economic profiling.”

In an effort to refine the BPL census, the government has redefined what constitutes poverty: Sanjay Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Rural Development Ministry, said BPL households in urban areas would be identified through an “inclusion criteria,” based on three factors — place of residence, social vulnerability (illiteracy, chronic disability or female headed households etc.) and occupational vulnerability (those in the most informal and least remunerative sectors).

However, the identification of their counterparts in rural areas would be done differently, he said. Here, the population would be divided into three categories — those at the top in rural areas (such as families owning fixed-line telephones, refrigerators and farmers with a credit limit of Rs.50,000) would be excluded, those at the bottom (such as destitutes, manual scavengers and primitive tribal groups) would be automatically included, and finally, for those in between to qualify for BPL status, there would be seven “deprivation indicators.”

Deprivation indicators

At the Cabinet meeting, Ms. Soni said there was a long and thorough discussion on these seven “deprivation indicators,” with Ministers pointing out possible loopholes in those that had been listed. Eventually, Union Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was asked to factor in his colleagues' suggestions before finalising the seven “deprivation indicators.”

The BPL census, Ms. Soni said, would be conducted by the Rural Development Ministry in association with the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry and the Registrar General of India (RGI). The actual implementation is to be left to the State governments, who will deploy panchayat workers, patwaris and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act workers. The entire process would be completed by December 2011, and the results of the BPL census would be utilised in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17).

While the BPL lists would be placed in the public domain in case anyone wishes to challenge inclusions or exclusions, the data on caste and religion would be given to the Registrar-General and kept confidential, Mr Kumar said. The last BPL census was conducted in 2002.

In the past, many Chief Ministers have challenged the BPL figures for their States, claiming that the numbers of the poor were much higher than those computed by the Centre. To a question, Mr. Kumar said that if any State government challenged the figures that emerged from the BPL census, it would have to sort it out with the Planning Commission. These figures were critical in the past, for instance, for foodgrain allocations for the PDS; in the future, allocations under the proposed Food Security law would also hinge on these figures.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Centre plans to dovetail caste census with BPL survey

he Union Cabinet, which meets here on Thursday, will discuss a proposal to dovetail the promised caste census with the survey to identify those living below the poverty line (BPL), government sources told The Hindu. The entire exercise should be completed by the end of this year, these sources added.

Dovetailing the two exercises will ensure that the castes enumerated can be correlated with the socio-economic data, and facilitate a more focussed targeting of the government's welfare measures.

Two views

Last September, when the Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, to undertake a caste headcount, starting June 2011, after the completion of the National Population Register (NPR), there were two views on the methodology to be undertaken.

One view was correlating people's caste identities with their educational and economic status would help map the population better, thus ensuring a more accurate targeting of welfare schemes. The other was that making such connections might lead to a demand for larger quotas. Evidently, the first view has won the day.

The proposal, which will be placed before the Cabinet on Thursday comes from the Home Ministry — the nodal department for Census 2012 — and envisages that the caste census cum BPL survey will be conducted by the Registrar-General and Census Commissioner India, and the Union Ministries of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) and Rural Development (RD), sources added. While the HUPA Ministry will focus on the urban areas, the RD Ministry will survey the rural areas. Those surveyed will be asked to name their caste, but this caste data will not be cross-checked. People will be free to say “no caste” as well.

It may be recalled that in March this year, the Opposition parties had raised the issue of a caste-based Census in the Lok Sabha, prompting the government to promise that inclusion of social, education and economic status in the exercise will be considered.


1947-2014 (Archived)
National Population Register biometric enrolment to commence on June 8

The pilot project of biometric enrolment being implemented in the State as part of the second phase of data collection for the National Population Register (NPR) will commence in the Kottayam municipal area on June 8.

Speaking to mediapersons at the district collectorate here on Wednesday, Census Director V.M. Gopala Menon said that the biometric data of every individual such as fingerprints, photographs and retina scan would be collected. Each individual would be provided their unique identification number in the next phase.

The collection of data would be done with the technical assistance of the Palakkad unit of the Indian Telephone Industries Limited (ITI).

Special camps would be organised in each ward of the Kottayam municipal area for one month. Facilities are being put in place to ensure that as many as 5 to 10 persons can simultaneously submit their details at the camps. Nearly 125 officials have been deployed in the municipality as part of the project.

Mr. Menon appealed to all to ensure the veracity of the details submitted for preparation of the NPR.

He also said that those appearing for the registration should produce the original copy of every relevant document including the acknowledgement slip issued during the previous phase of the exercise, ration card, employment guarantee scheme card, voter's identity card, driving licence, PAN card and passport.

District Collector Mini Antony also participated in the press conference.