A group of distinguished people, former bureaucrats, writers, scholars, veteran politicians and former ministers jointly appealed to the countrymen to realise the dangers inherent in the caste based census and stand up jointly to protect India’s unity and integrity against this insidious onslaught from within. “The citizens alone by their democratic assertion can make the Government and the political parties refrain from taking this regressive decision which will transform Indian nation into a conglomeration of warring castes and communities. It will destroy our vision of twenty first century and take us back to medieval times,” they said in a Mission Statement issued in New Delhi on June 11.
Prominent among those who were present at the time of releasing the Mission Statement included veteran Congress leaders Shri Vasant Sathe, Shri Balram Jakhar, former Union Minister Shri Arif Mohammad Khan, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Dr Subhash Kashyap, former secretary of Ministry of External Affairs Shri JC Sharma, Shri Bhurelal, activist Uma Sharma, artist Smt Sonal Mansingh, senior columnist Dr Ved Pratap Vaidik and media convener Shri Ashok Kanwaria.
“We, the concerned citizens, have noted with regret that the Government is favourably considering a decision to include caste in the census of 2011. In fact an impression was given at the conclusion of the last session of the Parliament that a favourable decision has been taken, however, the matter has now been referred to a group of ministers. For more than a century, the British had used every constitutional and administrative measure to aggravate caste and community differences to obstruct the emergence of Indian nationalism. This strategy had not only helped the colonial rule to perpetuate but ultimately resulted in the Partition of the country,” they said.
The statement further said that the founding fathers of the Constitution while realising the divisive potential of caste and community, had specifically abolished untouchability and separate electorate to deny caste and community any role in political or national domain and the Constitution had pledged to build a casteless and classless social order, ensuring equality and justice and prohibiting any discrimination only on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, residence or any of them. Dr BR Ambedkar, while presenting the final draft of the Constitution, had expressed his fears about the revival of what he called “our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds”. We, however, recognise that in order to build a strong and united India we need to strive for a truly egalitarian society. We therefore, strongly support any meaningful affirmative action for the deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society, the statement said.
“It is extremely distressing that now, after sixty years the government appears to be inclined to revive the old British colonial practice of caste enumeration. Inclusion of caste in the census will cause deep fissures and divisions in the society and weaken the sense of Indian nationhood,” the statement added.
The campaign has been launched under the banner of Meri Jati Hindustani. Former Lok Sabha speaker Shri Soamnath Chattrjee, noted lawyer Shri Ram Jethmalani, former Governor Shri Balram Jakhar, veteran Congress leader Shri Vasant Sathe, noted literary person Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, former Governor Shri Jagmohan, former IAS Shri Naresh Chandra, former Foreign Secretary Shri Muchukund Dubey and noted journalist Shri Jeorge Verghese are the patrons of the campaign. Acharya Satyanarayan Goenka (Vipasana), Baba Ramdev (Patanjali Yogpeeth), Dr Pranav Pandya (Gayatri Parivar), Shri Ram Nareshacharya (Ramanuj Sanpraday) and Swami Pragyanand have also extended their support.