The Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOUs) Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Chair (BRAC) on Social Change and Development hosted a seminar on Caste and the Census. The two day conference covered the history of the theme, the pros and cons of including and not including caste in the census, methods that can be used and have been used which affect this social reality. “Caste remains a pervasive reality of Indian society, yet the Government has not gathered systematic data in the Census on this since independence. In order to formulate policies and programmes to move towards a casteless society, information about its characteristics, changing forms, inter-caste marriages and the degree to which it may be lessening is necessary. Yet this has not been done previously since independence, out of an unrealistic fear and self-interested argument that “talking about caste” increases casteism,” said Dr. Gail Omvedt, BRAC Professor at IGNOU. “In fact, this primary response of the Indian elite that caste hardly exists, or is withering away, has handicapped us tremendously in dealing with the actual problem. Even today this problem is not solved. The Government has finally agreed to include an enumeration of caste, but has segregated this from the regular Census in a way which will not provide the required information. Because of this illusory move forward, the BRAC for Social Change and Development has decided to hold a seminar on Caste and the Census,” she added. The seminar had Dr. Parvin Sinclair, Pro VC, IGNOU, Dr. Vimal Thorat, Convenor, BRAC, IGNOU, Prof. Gail Omvedt BRAC, IGNOU in the inaugural session.
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