Letter to Prime Minister on errors in Caste Census

From

Dr. John Dayal

Member, National Integration Council,
Government of India
Member, National Monitoring Committee for Minority Education,
Government of India

Secretary General, All India Christian Council
Imm. Past National President, All India Catholic Union

505 Link Apartments, 18 IP Extn. Delhi 1100092 INDIA
Mobile +91 9811021072 Land +91 11 22722262
Email: john.dayal@gmail.com;
15th April 2012

To

Dr Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
South Block, Central Secretariat
New Delhi 110001

Re: Serious flaws in enumeration of Caste census will impact on Dalit, OBC and MBC Christians

Dear Prime Minister

Easter Greetings

I am writing to you as a Member of the National Integration and on behalf of the All India Christian Council to draw you urgent attention to serious deficiencies in the enumeration process in the national Census on Caste which is now underway. Unless corrected, the enumeration will lead to falsification of the data and will seriously impact on the interests of the Christian community in general and on the rights of those of the community people who trace their origins to India’s Dalit and OBC groups.

This is from my own personal experience and the experiences of other Christians in various parts of the country. Two enumerators, a lady and a gentleman, came to my house and interviewed me as the head of the household. They asked me my name and personal details. Thereafter they asked me my religion. I told them. They then sought to leave. I asked them if they would not ask me my caste. They had no answer. I told them they had to ask, even if I thereafter said I had no caste, or declared any other caste. They again had no answer. I must also mention that they did not ask us about the religion of every individual member of the family, possibly presuming that everyone shared the same faith. This may or may not be always true. In many urban families, there may be spouses, sons or daughters in law who are Tribals, OBCs or of Dalit origin. The Enumerating Staff have patently not been properly instructed and trained.

This failure to ask about the caste of those declaring Christianity as their religion is a major procedural lapse that introduces an avoidable error in the data and will skew the statistical computations. The Registrar General of India will not be able to determine the caste diversity in the Christian community with any exactitude. Article 341 (iii) of the Constitution or its predecessor the Presidential Order of 1950, which the community has challenged through Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India, cannot be used as an excuse, as the RGI’s office seem to be doing, as this is a mere enumeration exercise and does not pre-suppose any consequential benefits  at this stage. Even otherwise, OBC and MBC Christians, including the Latin Rite of Kerala have acceptance in official records
of several States.

The Dalit Christians have, of course, for more than half a century repeatedly urged the government to grant them Schedule Caste status, a demand supported by various national Commissions, a large number of State governments and national and regional political parties. The CPI-M, for instance, renewed this demand at their recent meeting. We have consistently urged the Government of India to give a positive response to the Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court on this issue.

The Government of India should immediately direct the Census Commissioner and Registrar General of India to ensure that in the on-going exercise, Christians should be enumerated for their caste origins. For many, this is an assertion of their Identity. Individuals can, should they so want, will continue to have the right to say they do not want their caste to be recorded. The enumeration staff should be appropriately instructed and trained in this matter.

Thank you

God bless India, and God bless you

Yours sincerely
John Dayal