Only six religion options make it to next census form : Daily News Analysis

Date : 06/06/2023

Relevance –

  • GS-1/Population and related issues
  • GS-2/ Government policies and interventions

Key Words – Lingayat community, Sarnaism, Intellectual disability, population enumeration, Basavanna, Bhakti movement

Context –

Despite demands from several communities to be counted as a separate religion, the next Census will only count Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain as distinct religion options.

The key informations about the issue –

  • Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain as distinct religion options.
  • Detailed codes for Sarnaism, the Lingayat religion, etc. were dropped in the final schedule form.
  • Some questions were to included on source of drinking water like - Do you consume packaged or bottled water?
  • This will be one of the new questions in the next Census, which will also introduce “natural calamities” as a new option when asking about the factors responsible for the migration of an individual or a family, apart from existing options such as education, marriage, work or business.
  • Nature-worshipping Adivasis in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, and Odisha have been campaigning to include their Sarna faith as a separate religion, while Karnataka’s Lingayats have been making a similar demand.

A short history of census in India –

  • First Non-synchronous Census: It was conducted in India in 1872 during the reign of Governor-General Lord Mayo.
  • First Synchronous Census: The first synchronous census was taken under British rule on February 17, 1881, by W.C. Plowden (Census Commissioner of India).
  • Since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.

About Sarnaism –

  • Followers of Sarna faith regard themselves as belonging to a distinct religious group, and are nature worshippers.
  • The holy grail of the Sarna faith is “Jal (water), Jungle (forest), Zameen (land)” and its followers pray to the trees and hills while believing in protecting the forest areas.
  • Recognition as a separate religious community will enable better protection of their language and history. To this end, tribal organizations are lobbying for a separate code “to save religious identity” of Sarnaism

About Lingayat Community —

  • The Lingayat/Veerashaiva community are devotees of Shiva.
  • They follow the 12th-century saint-philosopher Basavanna who had rejected ritualistic worship and pre-eminence of the Vedas.
  • The Lingayats consider the Veershaivas to be part of Hinduism as they follow Hindu customs while the Veerashaivas think the community was an ancient religion established by Shiva and Basavanna was one of its saints.

No separate codes

  • Though respondents can additionally write the name of any other religion in the Census form, no separate code will be provided.
  • Census officials had, in fact, designed detailed codes for religion on the basis of data collected during Census 2011. However, they were dropped and only six religion codes were retained in the final schedule after deliberations at a data users conference.
  • The details are explained in a report titled, “The Treatise on Indian Censuses Since 1981”, which was released by Home Minister Amit Shah at the inauguration of a new Census building in Delhi on May 22.

What's Central government take on it –

The Lingayats are followers of Basavanna, who took it upon himself to stop discrimination based on caste and other “evils” under the Chaturvarna or four-fold caste system of Hinduism.

Basavanna, who was inspired by the Bhakti Movement, rejected Brahmin rituals and temple worship and envisaged a society that was casteless, free of discrimination, and where men and women were considered equals.

Central government had opposed the minority religion status for Lingayats on 3 main grounds.

  • Government’s claim that the Lingayats were considered a sect of Hinduism not a seperate religion.
  • Second, the government said the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes within the Lingayats will lose all benefits if the parent community is accorded a minority religion status.
  • And third, that a private body (Veerashaiva Mahasabha) had opposed the separate religion tag only for Lingayats and wanted this to include Veerashaivas, considered one of the 99 sub-sects of the community.
  • The government pursue the same logic for Sarnas as they are also a tribal community.

What the critic says?

  • The critic talk about 1871 census of Mysore state, where in three different pages, which have clearly mentioned that Lingayat is a separate religion, not a caste.
  • The marginalised communities that come under Buddhists and Sikhs have been accorded all privileges, despite the classification.
  • A private body (Veerashaiva Mahasabha) had opposed the separate religion tag only for Lingayats and wanted this to include Veerashaivas, considered one of the 99 sub-sects of the community.

Key chhatecterstics of Census 2021 –

First Digital Census

  • Census 2021, which was to be conducted in two phases, has been postponed indefinitely, with the Central government initially attributing the delay to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The next Census is also set to be the first digital Census, where respondents will have the option to fill in the questionnaire from the comforts of their own homes.

Set of questions asked –

  • The 31 questions for the first phase — Houselisting and Housing Schedule — were notified on January 9, 2020.
  • As many as 28 questions have been finalised for the second phase — the Population Enumeration — but are yet to be notified.
  • The final set of questions for both phases were asked during a pre-test exercise in 2019 in 76 districts in 36 States and Union Territories, covering a population of more than 26 lakh.

How we question asked in census 2021 would be differed from cesus 2011?

  • A comparison of the questions asked in 2011 and those finalised for the next Census shows that for a section on the mode of travel to place of work, respondents will have to answer new queries on their travel time in hours and minutes, and whether they use metro rail.
  • A question on types and causes of disabilities has been expanded to include “acid attack, intellectual disability, chronic neurological disease and blood disorder.”
  • The next Census will also record details on whether a person who lives in a rented house owns a house somewhere else or does not own any residential property. On the question of availability of drinking water, it explains that “near the premises” means “within 100 metres in urban areas” and “within 500 metres in rural areas.”

Conclusion –

  • Being a digital census and having a set of questions pertaining to migration and livelihood, this census offers a lot to us.
  • For the first time, a code directory — containing possible responses and their matching codes for questions involving descriptive and non-numeric entries — has been prepared for the use of enumerators during the second phase of Census 2021.
  • It has codes in respect of Relationship to Head, Mother Tongue and Other Languages Known, Occupation, Nature of Industry, Trade or Service, Birth Place/Place of last residence, and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) etc.
  • Data processing of these descriptive responses required human intervention to codify into required data format as per the tabulation plan. Data processing for the descriptive response took years for a few questions, which further delayed data dissemination.
  • It also involved risk to data bias and errors because of diverse judgement of enumerators and the persons codifying the response as well.

Probable Questions from this article Mains Examinations –

  • Question 1 – What are the key issues being arising from next cenus which is Census 2021? How this census is different from earlier one? Also mention some key features of census 2022. ( 10 Marks, 150 Words)
  • Question 2 – Census is an crucial activity for better management, allocation and reasonable distribution of resources. Explain this statement with suitable examples. ( 15 Marks, 250 Words)

Source: The Economic Times