NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013

NEW - Vedic/Hindu Calendar for 2013
Shri Ramapir Mandir/Temple in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Monday, June 13, 2011

Indian Government Approves First Caste Census In 80 Years

By PHP Staff
Monday, June 13, 2011
 ( Photo : India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh )

NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 19, 2011 (Voa News): For the first time in 80 years, India is planning a detailed survey of religious and caste affiliation. Castes in India are part of a traditional Hindu system of social categorization and are believed to have an impact on the economic fortunes of the population. Leaders say having detailed caste data can help them better target social programs.

Indian officials plan to distribute questionnaires about caste and religious affiliation during June and July, alongside efforts to count those Indians who are living below a government-set poverty line. This is the first concrete plan by the Indian government to collect caste affiliation data since 1931, prior to the country's independence from the British.

N. Bhaskara Rao is one of India's most experienced and respected demographic researchers. He says the caste survey has two well-intentioned aims. "One is to establish a more reliable estimate," he said. "The second is, those who are not represented, those who have not yet gotten on to the power structure - to bring them into the fold of power."

Ancient Hindu scripture outlines four basic social classifications, along with a fifth class of so-called "untouchables," now known as Dalits, who were at the bottom of the hierarchy and traditionally performed society's most menial jobs. The reality is far more complex, with thousands of sub-groupings weaving an intricate hierarchy of socially perceived roles.

India's post-independence constitution set a goal of eliminating caste-based discrimination. Modern Indian governments have taken a more practical approach - seeking to target job quotas, food subsidies, and other social programs at lower-caste Indians. Supporters of a caste census says the data it generates will be crucial in tailoring such programs.

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