- The reiteration might sound like a cliché every time we talk about the subject matter. The issue of caste conundrum has acquired such an inalienable feature in the context of political narration that it no longer can be relegated anywhere but to hogging the most prominent position during any discourse on socio-economic welfarist measures targeting certain categories. Such has been the impact of caste on the political landscape of the country that any number of regional political parties have firmly embedded by now successful in cracking the code of divisive politics. Make no mistake, caste-based politics is here to stay and will be milked by the politicians of all hues in the foreseeable future too.
- Damn with the increasingly ill-advised polarization of society where caste takes centerstage overriding relevant issues of dignified existence for humanity per se. The latest fad fast catching up the politician’s attention is vociferous calls to undertake a fresh caste census which would provide much-needed ammunition for the parties to further consolidate respective vote banks. As it is, the clamoring for quota and reservations in government jobs and educational institutions are multiplying by the day. By insisting on undertaking a fresh caste census is aimed at taking recourse to further exploit the inherently faulty social engineering courtesy caste being foisted on the country.
- The rightful demand should have been to usher in the holistic and organic improvement of the living standards of the populace by provisioning enough opportunities at employment generation and easy accessibility to quality education to emerge self-sufficient in the long run. Unfortunately, our political class is primed to see the consolidation of vote banks within the prism of caste calculations alone hoping to impress upon the electorate by offering goodies even if it goes against the tenet of extending meritorious equity for all deserving. The Union Government has desisted from falling prey to the census demand so far. However, there are regional parties already dishing out promises to enumerate the caste census if voted into office.
PC: Sugata Srinivasaraju
- Now, the political parties should guard against the boomerang effect by undertaking their caste enumeration exercises in states. Congress in Karnataka realized this after piloting a caste census only to place it on the backburner when data leak stoked off intense identity politics. In a recent development, the BJP was found defensive after its failed attempt to subcategorize OBC reservations. However, it made it up by sending out strong signals through other moves like OBC reservation in the all-India quota for medical admissions and increasing OBC representation in the recent Union Cabinet expansion.
- Going by the look of things, BJP appears confident about there being no great groundswell for a caste census and hence would like to maintain the status quo. Nonetheless, opposition parties are clutching to a caste census as a potential tool to upset BJP’s applecart. Needless to mention, the governments, centre,s and states, should ensure accurate data on many socio-economic indicators are made available making policymaking easier and effective benefiting across the board rather than divisive caste-based dole-outs. Is it expecting too much from our netas? You bet.