The Caste Census and Its Ultimate Goal
First of all, the caste census will put an end to one crazy thing in our country. At least after that people from all castes would quote the right number. Today, the sum of all quoted numbers in India is much more than the world population itself. Everyone says “my community has three crore votes”. After the census some may stop using numbers. Nobody is jailed for quoting a wrong number. Just like that people say 90% in Bangalore are Tamils and 60% in Chennai are Telugus. It is just to say that we are in a sizeable number here. The numbers really do not carry any value. Someone said 95% of the times the percentages are decided on the fly without having any backup data. So true!
Another beneficiary by the census is going to be the politicians themselves. Their strategizing will be different post that. They would decide their candidates based on the new numbers. They would also decide the number of seats for some of their allies (caste-based parties) based on that. It may not be vastly different from what it is believed to be now. But, we may have some surprises, too. We will have press reports with the right reasons for the defeat in some constituencies in last many elections. We will also know which castes have helped the government to reduce the population and which have increased it to gain better share from the government. Unfortunately, the governments will not punish those who increased. It would instead pamper them with more freebies to garner their votes. That way, I like their decision to not do delimitation of constituencies across the nation based on the current population figures. Otherwise, that would have become a punishment for those who obediently controlled the population.
As an addition, the government can also look at the number of castes in each category now. Most of the castes have gone down in their status in the government records in last 50 years. Many forward communities in 50s have become backward, backward have most backward (some of you may not have heard this ‘most backward’ stuff as it is there only in few states), and so on. I am not sure how much of most backward have become scheduled. It is such an irony in a developing nation like ours all castes are going down in status. But, everywhere else most fellows are trying to prove their superiority over the others as the protests to gain lower status continues. There should be transparent criteria to decide each category. Sadly, we have both oppressed and oppressing communities in backward category in many states though I wouldn’t like to use caste names here. Please waste numerous sessions in parliament to agree on the criteria and publish them with all party leaders’ signature (some would even deny signing irrespective of whatever the criteria is!). Then, tell us who falls in which category. After that we will have many cheap political rogues shouting in streets asking for downgrade for their communities or some of the majority communities who would help them continue to loot the country irrespective of the systematic mapping done by computers. We should just ignore them. It is not that our government doesn’t know that technique.
Another idea if our whole idea of doing this is to remove the caste differences is, have some new categories for inter-caste children and inter-category ones. The inter-category one has to be encouraged more than the inter-caste one. You may have multiple layers within the new categories also. They have to be given more if the government is really interested to dilute caste barriers. Like urbanization, this is another thing that would automatically bring in the change that we want to achieve by force.
Finally, the whole of Tamil Nadu and some parts of the other southern states have something to teach to the rest of the country on this aspect. We have successfully abolished caste from our names if not minds. Today, you ask anyone from our region what our surname is. We just say our father’s name. You may think we do not have surnames and that is the reason we use our father’s name as surname. You are so wrong, my friend! It was conscious effort by our Dravidian movement to stop using the surname as part of our names a few generations back. No exaggeration. You are simply seen as an uneducated country brute if you add your surname to your name here. Our forefathers (from all communities including the uppermost ones) decided not to use surnames as they in some way indicate the caste. It was not that the surname was the caste name in all cases. We had something called titles also, which may or may not indicate the caste. Today, three or four generations later, we don’t even understand the concept of surname though we understand caste. It was partly a success because the ultimate agenda is not achieved yet. But, unlike in other places, you just can’t find out someone’s caste by asking the full name in the first introduction itself.
It is just being used by those who migrated out earlier in order to preserve their identity in the outside lands. We have this problem only when we come out. Instead of us laughing at others, sometimes the others laugh at us for not having a surname. Our current generations in Bangalore and Chennai don’t even care about caste. It was a surprise for me when I came from the country side! The urbanization is diluting caste in a great way. So, let’s please encourage urbanization also. Even the guys from the upper castes feel ashamed about talking about caste in public here, which is not the case with many of my friends from other parts of the country. The point that I was trying to make here was that, the central government should have some plan to encourage those that are ready to shed their caste-based surnames as well. If you want, use your place name or father’s name or any other title which in no way gives an indication of what your caste is.