by Achchhe Lal Prajapati and MD Tabrez Alam
A caste-wise census has become a topic of discussion in India today. The ruling party and the opposition are giving their respective arguments. Some justify it, and some are saying wrong. Meanwhile, the state of Bihar has also started the caste-wise census. India has the world’s most extensive caste-based affirmative action and social welfare programme. One of the primary goals of the reservation is to ensure that all classes (castes) are adequately represented in government services and institutions. What will be the effect of this census on balanced development? This question needs to be investigated in light of scholars’ views on balanced regional development. Weather Is there a need for a caste census, or it extends beyond politics?
Perspective on Caste, Governance and Development
From the view of governance, a state is a large or small territorial unit in a federal system, while a caste is a large or small group of people. Just as different types of biotic and abiotic resources are found in the region, in the same way, there are species-specific types of resource prosperity levels. Just as humans do their economic development by using regional resources, in the same way, castes develop by using their potential and ability. Conserving natural resources along with human economic development is sustainable or integrated development. It is worth mentioning that growth only makes sense of quantity, while development makes sense of quality. From the point of view of India, growth and development can be understood in the light of castes. The population of some castes has increased, but there has not been a qualitative change in their lives. Therefore, the concept of integrated development of society has suffered a setback. First of all, we will have an overview of regional economic development-oriented ideas. After that, he will try to understand the implication of caste-wise census in a society with a caste structure.
The economic development of a region starts from any one point. Similarly, human development does not start simultaneously in all caste groups but starts in any one. The canters of regional economic development are called development poles. Initially, the growth poles are canters of quantitative and qualitative changes. The caste structure of Indian society exhibits the characteristics of the pole of growth.
Scholars like Perroux, Schumpeter, Vaudeville, A.O. Hershman, Gunnar Myrdal, Hermansen, Christohaler and Indian scholar R. P. Mishra etc., have given essential narratives. In the 1950s, the French economist Perroux proposed that economic development, or growth, does not occur uniformly across a region but revolves around a specific pole (or cluster). This pole is frequently characterized by core industries that develop linked industries, primarily through direct and indirect effects. He said that before the technological era, economic development used to happen in a balanced way in the entire state. After the advent of the technological era, growth concentrated in one region’s centre. As a result, some regions became more developed, while some remained untouched by development.
Let us look at the idea of Perroux in light of the Indian caste system. It can be said that in the beginning, all the castes were progressing together on the development path. However, with the passage of time, when development accelerated, development was confined to only a few castes. It remained confined, and the rest of the castes were deprived of development. However, in his regional development theory, Perroux considered centrifugal and centrifugal forces effective. Centripetal force blocks growth, while centrifugal force distributes growth over regions. However, the centrifugal force is so strong that centrifugal force becomes less effective, and development covers the region at a slow pace, or the light of development reaches part of each ire region.
Similarly, in a caste-based social system, high resource endowment, higher education, better facilities, higher level of awareness, centrifugal forces like casteism, familyism, nepotism, etc. Development starts concentrating on the highest caste, while other castes remain deprived of development. Although other castes also benefit from that caste development at least, it is so little effect that it becomes unable to cover the development of the entire society.
A similar idea O. Hershman has also given what is known as the theory of unbalanced growth. He tried to explain regional development through the leakage effect and polarization effect. He said that the influence of Vikas Dhruv reaches backward areas around it through seepage. This leakage occurs through trade and capital transfer. If seen in caste structure, this leakage is seen in the race of development by the forward castes and backward castes in the race of development. This corresponds to the findings or filtration of Macaulay’s education policy. Filtration theory holds that education filters down from the educated classes to other sections of society. Educating everyone is optional.
Due to the polarization effect, the concentration of resources from the periphery starts at the development pole. For example, industries in other areas cannot compete with the industries in the growth centre because the growth centres have relatively more facilities. If an entrepreneur has to invest, then he considers it appropriate to invest on the growth pole because he gets the benefit of the group there. That is why the development pole continues developing while other states lag in the race for development. Harshman’s unbalanced development theory, if converted into India’s caste-based system, then some castes are like development poles, where development poles remain at the level of education, employment, living standards, health and food, from which they can develop. They are progressing at the level, while some cases are shallow in education, employment, the standard of living, health and food. As a result, it needs to catch up in the race for development. Education and health are essential elements for any employment, so employment opportunities become available for education and health-rich castes, which make food and living standards higher. In contrast, backward castes in education and health Purchasing power decrease with lag in employment. As a result, the level of food and living also becomes low and needs to catch up in the development race.
Myrdal has also expressed his views about the growth pole. According to him, the growth of the growth pole affects the growth of backward regions in two ways. First- is the expansion effect, called the ‘Spread Effect’. In this, the backward areas get affected by the effects of the products and economic activities of the growth pole. Innovations are adopted in backward areas, so the backward area also starts developing. This can be seen in the context of backward and forward castes. Due to the concentration of excessive wealth in the affluent castes, they get some construction work done, due to which the impoverished castes get employment, and by coming in contact with the affluent castes and seeing their standard of living, they have the desire to move towards education and employment. Starts getting stronger. This leads to some development of those victims of excessive ineffective development.
Second is the backwash flow, called the ‘backwash effect’. When this effect is practical, the growth poles lead to rapid economic growth. As a result, resources, technology, capital and healthy and educated youth of backward areas migrate towards the development pole, which stops the development of backward areas.
The same is seen in the context of castes as well. When they become wealthy, the rich castes exploit the poor and their resources excessively. Exploitation becomes very effective. The gap between affluence and destitution increases enormously, so untouchability and discrimination, high and low, become highly effective, leading to more upper castes’ development. In contrast, other castes lag at many levels due to prejudices at the social level.
Rejecting the thoughts of Vikas Dhruva regarding the above regional development, R. P. Mishra considered the term development navel more appropriate for developing countries like India instead of growth poles. Based on the thoughts of western scholars, there are only two classes in the world, rich and poor. RP Mishra rejected this and said that in India, which prides itself on caste superiority, there could not be only two classes. That is why four hierarchies of growth navels have been described-
- Local Level Service Centre (Shudra)
- Growth point at sub-regional level (Vaishya)
- Regional Level Development Centre (Kshatriya)
- Vikas Dhruv (Brahmin) at the national level
Knowledge of the development pole theory is indispensable for regional planning for the balanced development of a region. Through this, the development of big cities can be controlled and planned. Along with these, backwards rural areas can be developed by developing agriculture and village and cottage industries. RP Mishra called it ‘decentralized concentration’. Today, such policies are being prepared by the Town and Country Planning Department in India, due to which master plans and metropolitan planning are being prepared for the balanced development of cities.
On the other hand, rural cottage and domestic agriculture and dairy industries have been developed to develop rural areas. In this, drought-prone areas – tribal areas, river basin areas, metropolitan areas, hilly areas and flood areas etc. are being developed by multi-level planning method (district level, block level, Gram Sabha level) with the three-tier system of Panchayati Raj. With this, a balance will be established between the development of rural and urban areas.
Today, if surveys related to a metropolis, cities, districts, villages, drought-prone areas, tribal areas, river basin areas, hilly areas and flood areas etc., are being conducted, the data obtained from the survey is being analyzed. After that, proper plans are made for the area. Some schemes are successful, some partially successful, and some unsuccessful.
Today regional imbalance has increased at the world level, and then the size of the development pole and its structure are responsible for it. Similarly, in India, caste-based social structure imbalance, economic backwardness and unemployment are high and low. People believe this polarization of resources, education, employment, health and living has increased within certain castes. That is why separatism has been promoted in the country, which can prove to be a hindrance to national unity. For this, it is necessary that the assessment of polarization and backwardness within the castes is done correctly through caste-wise census in the country so that by providing necessary support to the needy, it can be added to the mainstream of development, and at the same time, the efforts to promote separatism in the country can be made. National unity can be strengthened by suppressing the powers.
The caste-wise census will further strengthen the democratic idea in India. Therefore, going beyond the party level, the regional leaders of Bihar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They demanded a caste census and presented the example of K Chandrasekhar Rao’s caste-wise data collection in Telangana. Chandrasekhar Rao’s figure was used to fund Rao and Siddaramaiah’s welfare schemes. For example, Rao identified two large communities in Telangana, the Golas-Kuruma and Mudiraj, and launched two independent welfare schemes for them, the Sheep Distribution Program (for the Golas-Kuruma) and the Fish Economic Development Program (for Mudiraj). Both the schemes are related to the traditional business of both communities (Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd). If it is taken as a pilot project, it proves that a caste-wise census can be helpful in the upliftment of marginalized communities.
A caste-based census is required for equitable development in India because it can help identify the marginalised and underprivileged sections of society and allow the government to formulate targeted policies to help them. It can also aid in addressing the country’s persistent social inequality and discrimination issues. Furthermore, caste-based data can help with resource planning and allocation to ensure equitable development across all segments of society.
Indeed, there are some concerns and apprehensions regarding the caste census. However, it is also true that caste is a reality in Indian society. The social status of the people has been decided based on caste, and people have been exploited and respected based on caste. Although our constitution does not consider anyone small or extensive based on caste, caste has influenced social, political and educational life. Suppose accurate data is obtained from the caste census, then certainly by having accurate knowledge of the backwardness of the castes in the society. In that case, appropriate and necessary steps can be taken for each caste, and they can be linked with the mainstream of development.
- Achchhe Lal Prajapati teaches Geography at Palamu, Jharkhand and writes regularly on Contemporary issues. He is a former Research Scholar of the Department of Geography, Banaras Hindu University.
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- MD Tabrez Alam, Doctoral Scholar @ Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. As a researcher, the quest for knowledge begins with fieldwork. He is currently working on Urban inequality and housing segregation in newly developed townships in India. His research interest lies in Research, Policy, Development, Communication and Social Work intervention.
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