Hezamara (Tripura), June 29 (IANS): Independent India's first census to determine the caste-wise breakup of the country's 1.21 billion people was launched from here today.
The census started in this remote tribal dominated village, 45 km north of Tripura capital Agartala.
"In the general census 2011 (Feb 9-28), people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes have been counted. In the caste census, there would be four categories -- Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, others and no caste," Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India C Chandramauli told IANS. "The census would be completed by December," he said.
The caste census would be conducted simultaneously with the socio-economic survey to determine the number of people living below poverty line (BPL).
According to the officials, the people living without shelter, destitutes, beggars, manual scavengers, primitive tribal groups, and legally released bonded labourers would get the highest priority to be included in the BPL lists.
Households headed by women with no adult male member between age 16 and 59, tribals and Scheduled Castes people, and households with no literate adult above 25 years would also be included in the list.
Families who own a motorised vehicle or two-wheeler, a concrete house or a house with three or more rooms or a fixed phone, a fishing boat or agricultural equipment, pay professional or income tax, have a member in government service, earn above Rs 10,000 per month or have Kisan Credit Cards with Rs 50,000 and above would not be included in the BPL list.
"The caste survey would be conducted by the union rural and urban development ministries in association with the state governments across the country. Each state has to complete the caste census in a period of 40 days," Chandramauli said.
The census directorate in each state would monitor and train the enumerators of the census, he added.
"Only the verbal claim of the person concerned would be recorded by the enumerators. No document or certificate is required for submission," the official said.
After initiating the survey, union Rural Development Secretary BK Sinha told reporters: "The paperless survey would be conducted by 600,000 enumerators through indigenously developed tablet computers and electronically record the data."
Chandramauli added: "After the completion of caste census, the rural and urban development ministries would provide the data to the census authority for processing."
Chandramauli said that it would take one-and-half years to declare data on the caste and religion-wise population counted during the census. The general census was conducted in February.
Most regional and national political parties had been vociferously demanding a caste census, saying that it would help the central and state governments in developing welfare schemes targeting specific groups.
The last such caste census exercise was done in pre-independent India in 1931.
In the 1980s, an unofficial anthropological survey found that there are more than 30,000 castes and sub-castes in India, Chandramauli said.