Unconstitutionally Yours! — the Census 2011
Md. Aziz Haider*
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
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
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
Tags: India, Society, Census, Minorities, Politics,