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Posted Online on Wednesday, 16 June 2010 09:45 IST

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Muslim Islamic NewsIndia: Unconstitutionally Yours! — the Census 2011

Md. Aziz Haider*

The Milli Gazette

Do you know that the mammoth exercise of Census 2011 being carried out by the Government has no column for your religion, linguistic background and whether you are an OBC but demands to know if you are SC/ST, with an explicit remark that SC/ST can only be a Hindu, a Sikh or a Buddhist. The entire exercise thus becomes a mockery and a serious rebuke to the demand of the Muslims and right-thinking secular individuals from all religions to include in the privileged category the SCs/STs who have converted to Islam or Christianity just like their counterparts who have converted to Sikhism or Budhism and are enjoying the benefits of reservation.

Muslims have been asserting that it is unconstitutional and unjustified that a Muslim or Christian dhobi is kept out of the SC/ST purview but a Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh dhobi is given the benefits of being a SC/ST. Likewise with other professions. It is clear that the Muslim and Christian SC/STs are being kept out of the reservation loop only because of their religions and it is time and again being said to Muslims and Christians that the Constitution of India has no provisions for granting reservation on the basis of "religion". We agree that our Constitution has no provision for granting reservation on the basis of religion, but nobody has cared to tell us whether it has a clause for exclusion on the basis of religion.

It appears that the government is not serious at all of giving Muslim SC/STs their due share and the removal of the ‘religion’ column from the Census form is also aimed at ensuring that no true count of Muslims will henceforth be available, leave alone the count of the Muslim SCs/STs. Among the Hindus, while there is a separate column for SCs/STs, ‘OBCs and others’ have been clubbed together, thus ensuring that the count of OBCs too cannot be known separately through this round of the census. Government employees carrying the survey are either ticking in the SC/ST column (in case the family is a SC/ST adhering to Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism) or are ticking in the ‘OBC or others’ column, thereby raising a question as to why the column of ‘OBC’ has been clubbed together with ‘others’ as if the Government is not concerned about knowing their number.

In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati government has more or less finalized the decision to give separate reservation for Muslim OBCs in Government jobs. Congress’ decision not to count the OBCs is certainly aimed at denying this privilege to the Muslims.

Census 2011 is unique on many accounts. The sheer magnitude of the survey itself makes it a unique exercise. Secondly, from the outset, it appears that a very detailed survey is being undertaken wherein information regarding whether you live in your own accommodation or rented one, number of rooms, whether there is a separate kitchen, sewer connection, whether possessing cycle, scooter, car, TV, radio, mobile, etc. is sought in detail besides detailed information regarding number of people in family, their age, place of birth, parentage, etc. is demanded. But eyebrows are bound to be raised when such a mammoth exercise with such a detailed survey form does not bother to know your religion, your mother-tongue and also when it attempts to count the SCs/STs but leaves out the OBCs.

The True Count:
For years since Independence, the true count of Muslims in India has always been kept under veil. While the Government kept on insisting for a long time that the Muslims were between 10 and 12 percent, self-assessment done by Muslims and several social organizations was of the opinion that their population was anywhere between 15 and 20%. This was also reflected in the large-scale upheavals that the Muslims were able to bring about whenever they voted en masse.

Succeeding governments had an inkling that the Muslim population was far more than they were claiming it to be. As Muslims came out of the trauma of Partition and started gaining awareness, it was not possible to keep out a chunk of the population from the Census. That is why the subject of Muslims producing a large number of children was raised time and again. This was despite the fact that several independent surveys have revealed that the number of children in Muslim families are same if not less than the number of children in Hindu families; difference occurs with the difference in their social and economic status. The number of children in similar social and economic conditions is same for Hindus and Muslims. But since a large percentage of Muslims is illiterate and lives in slum-like conditions, the average percentage rise of Muslims is more even if their Hindu counterparts living in same slums and subscribing to same mode of life are producing equal number of children.

The solution therefore is education and social upliftment of Muslims, which successive governments have continued to ignore, and not religion. Sachar Committee and Mishra Commission, which attempted to reach the root of the problem, have concluded that the only solution is to bring Muslims back into the social mainstream through education and economic upliftment.

If such a grand exercise was being carried out, the government must have ensured that the survey form was so designed that all the essential information becomes available through the Census. Even if Muslims are really producing more children, as claimed by some, the Census would have revealed the percentage of their rise since the last census so that proactive measures can be undertaken to know the reason and find solutions to keep their population under check.

It is time the government offers a clarification to all Muslims, OBCs and all right-thinking secular people of the country about the reasons behind these gross omissions.

*The author is the editor of Life Watch

Source: The Milli Gazette, 1-15 June 2010

This article appeared on page no. 2 of the 1-15 June 2010 print edition of The Milli Gazette.
Subscribers of print edition The Milli Gazette are now reading the 16-30 June 2010 issue


Tags: India, Society, Census, Minorities, Politics, Fundamental Rights



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