CoRWA Demands Choice for Citizens to Declare Themselves Secular in Census


The Confederation of RWAs (CoRW), has demanded that citizens have the choice of declaring themselves secular in the impending national census exercise.

In a communication to the Registrar General of India, Dr Vivek Joshi, the national body of RWAs, has highlighted that in a secular state caste and religious identities should not be thrust on residents. At present as per the census forms to be filled, it is almost obligatory indicate one's caste and religion. 

"In the interests of national unity and good governance these two identities should be made optional to reply. Alternatively, more columns should be added to mention Secular in case of religion, and Not Applicable, in case of caste", Dr Rao VBJ Chelikani said in the communication. 

Where the state needs to know these details for the purpose of socioeconomic surveys or evaluations, the administration should run separate surveys that are subject to strict monitoring and data security, the CoRWA has stressed.  

Furthermore, the body has requested the RGI to recommend to the State Coordinators that RWAs be accorded institutional recognition to cooperate with field enumerators as third-party authentificators of the data in urban areas.

Full communication reproduced below: 

A letter is written to Dr. Vivek Joshi, I.A.S. Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India (rgi.rgi@nic.in ) on 23rd December, 20.

Sir,        

We understand that you are about to start collecting personal details very soon for the purposes of decennial census. …

Our secular state should not thrust caste and religious identities on all the residents: At present, in the census forms to be filled, it is almost obligatory to indicate one’s caste and religion. The individual has no choice to not to choose a particular religion and a specific caste. I suggest in the interests of national unity and good governance that these two identities should be made optional to reply. Or, alternatively, more columns should be added to mention: ‘Secular’ in case of religions and ‘Not Applicable’ in case of caste. If statistics are needed for any purpose of socioeconomic surveys or evaluations, they should be collected separately and specifically, subject to control.

The data recording should be more accurate, in view of the fact that it is not authenticated at all by any third agency at any stage. In the case of the Electoral rolls, we see any time mistakes galore even after frequent revisions, due to human errors. Therefore, in order to minimise human errors, it is better to hire private agencies with digital skills from the market and train them to perform this task impersonally. The government officials who are available at present are of low-skills, and while doing this kind of jobs, they are too often absent from their primary obligation of attending to the public. And it is not wise neither to distract the teachers from their more important mission.

Finally, we propose to you to recommend to the State Coordinators to accord institutional recognition to the Resident Welfare Association (RWAs) into which most of the new urban citizens in all the towns and cities are formed, to cooperate with the field enumerators as third-party authentificators of the data in the urban areas. Your state Coordinators can easily identify them in their states with the help of the municipal commissioners, or we can provide them contacts so that they can enter into protocol agreements with them directly.

Cordially, Dr. Rao V.B.J. Chelikani

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