There seems to be a bit of a political fault line, which might well go on to become a major electoral issue between the ruling BJP and the Opposition INDIA alliance led by the Congress but is something on which all political sides can easily work out a consensus and it is the matter of conducting caste-based census.
The next census to be held in India, scheduled for 2031, would be happening after skipping the 2021 census owing to the Covid-19 pandemic; and has linkages to the subsequent delimitation exercise and implementation of the women reservation bill.
The biggest reasons for supporting the caste-based census is the large number of policies in India, both development and welfare schemes, besides quota-based initiatives, including elections, where it is imperative that the government must have access to the latest number of people based on their caste.
Reservations in education, jobs, and elections would be most effective when the provisions of seats or jobs reserved are reasonably proportionate to the overall percentage of the particular group or community with respect to the total population.
There is a great case for enumerating gender as criteria and factor for determination and identification within the census, because it acknowledges gender discrimination in society. The government can then, using the numbers including the sex ratio, make policy interventions and other executive decisions to achieve the desired results or change.
On the same lines, whether for providing jobs and educational seats, or for elections, or any targeted cash transfer or other scheme, it is imperative that the government must know the caste-based details of our population.
Rahul Gandhi has batted for a reasonably strongly supported viewpoint of a large number of people in demanding a caste census. We cannot manage what we cannot measure — and therefore, unless we have a caste-specific numerical break up of India, we cannot work for the uplift and progress of each of the caste groups, and the overall transformation and development of India.