Vijayawada: Telugu Desam Party national president and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday urged prime minister Narendra Modi to take steps for a caste-wise census of Backward Classes (BCs) so as to ensure targeted welfare and development programmes for them in the future.

In a letter to the prime minister, the TDP chief said that the Backward Classes are still living in poverty and deprivation for lack of effective implementation of schemes and due to lack of adequate data on their population. He said that the BCs constitute the majority of the population in India. The Kalelkar Commission, the first BC Commission in 1953, and the later commissions including those of the various state governments, had all recommended the enumeration of the BCs in the census.

Naidu told the prime minister that at a time when caste discrimination remained still a harsh reality in India, there was needless speculation that a caste census would further deepen the existing social divisions. As such, the exclusion of caste data could be as unjust as the caste-based discrimination itself.

"The previous data on the population of castes is 90-years-old and best described as outdated. Welfare recommendations and schemes cannot be based on data that are old enough to be irrelevant. In order to ensure that we are taking the right steps towards a more egalitarian society, it is important that an effort is made to understand the extent of social and economic exclusion of BCs and level the playing field for them," said Naidu.

The former chief minister said, "Article 15(4) of the Constitution allows for special provisions for the advancement of BCs, socially and educationally, by providing reservations to them in professional courses. Similarly, under Article 16(4), BCs can be provided with a reservation in state services only when their representation is not proportional to their population. In both cases, it is essential to estimate the population of BCs to understand the proportion of their representation in various walks of life. The old census data on caste is no longer relevant is an opinion also echoed by many commissions, intellectuals, academicians and others."

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