April 17, 2014
Chaitra Krushna Paksha Dwitiya, Kaliyug Varsha 5116
It is almost a year since my article Why is Census 2011 silent on religious data? appeared in this space. It pertained to the Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, selectively concealing the religion-wise population data in Census 2011. The article that appeared on May 3, 2013 continues to draw comments from the readers. I presume that many visitors reach there while trying to find out religion-wise data of Census 2011 with the aid of Google.
It is a pity that we are no nearer to the truth now than we were a year ago. The religion-wise data under Census 2011 have still not been notified. The Office of Registrar General tells that they are yet to be ‘finalised’. But it is difficult to understand why religious data need to wait for finalisation while data in all other categories have been released online on the official website in ‘provisional’ form before they were finalised.
This article will not provide the coveted religion-wise data. But it will share with you a more interesting experience that I had while trying to retrieve it through RTI Act, 2005. My efforts to obtain the religion-wise data from the office of Registrar General through RTI Act had failed. Their replies were evidently evasive; the first appellate authority even informed (in her letter dated May 9, 2013) that the figures might be released by the year end. I was distrustful of the reply and chose to approach the Central Information Commission on May 30, 2013. Given the huge pendency of cases my turn came on the last day of the year — December 31, 2013. The coveted data had not been released till then giving lie to the appellate authority’s assurance. My suspicion had been confirmed when I phoned the Data Dissemination Centre of office of Registrar General in the last week of December, 2013. They said they had no idea when the religion-wise data was going to be released.
On December 31, 2013 I appeared before the court of Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma, IAS (Retd). No representative from office of Registrar General was present. This was despite the fact that I had personally delivered them a copy of the CIC’s notice along with a copy of my appeal to the CIC. It was necessary that the public authority should have a copy of my appeal to CIC that they come prepared beforehand. But neither a representation nor a representative from Registrar General confirmed my worst fears — that they are running away from the issue. Had the CPIO of the Social Studies Division, Registrar General of India not ran away like scared mouse I would have exposed the UPA Government’s conspiracy of silence with my cross-questionings.
The case was heard ex-pate. In my submission I argued that (a) Religion-wise data is an integral part of the decennial Census in India since 1881 (b) Census is one survey whose data is meant for suo-motu disclosure without the benefit of RTI Act, 2005 (c) all other figures except religion-wise data were being uploaded on official website http://censusindia.gov.in/ (d) With great development of information and data dissemination technology the gestation period ought to have lessened (e) evasive and misleading replies to my RTI query prove the UPA Government wants to conceal something.
These issues are mentioned in the narration part of the Information Commissioner’s decision. But to my utter surprise the Information Commissioner’s verdict was strange. It was pronounced on January 13, 2014. It merely directed the office of Registrar General of India and Census Commission to inform me when the religion-wise data would be revealed. It is strange because I had not asked for the schedule/time-table. The SS division Appellate Authority in her letter dated already tried to deceive me in her letter dated May 9, 2013. The RTI Act, 2005 is meant for providing information/document as available. It is not about prophecy / forecast. So the Information Commissioner should have directed the office of Registrar General of India and Census Commission to upload on website / provide to me the religion-wise data in whatever form available. But he did not. I realised, in hindsight, that the former bureaucrat is a Congress-Government appointee!
The CPIO, Social Studies Division was able to wriggle his way out. In his letter dated January 31, he said that the religion-wise data of Census 2011 had not been finalised yet. We are thus back to square one! My original contention was that all other Census figures were uploaded in provisional form without waiting for finalisation. Why this exception in case of religious data. It possibly means manipulation is afoot behind the back of the nation. The religion data is like to show that Hindu population has plummeted below 80 per cent for the first time after independence. Footprints of ‘Islamistan’ have expanded across India. Sociologists argue that Census is about social welfare programs/entitlements, literary, gender equality etc. But Census is about (a) Democracy because it is about demography (b) working/productive force and (c) Defence of the nation because only youthful population will defend the borders (d) Internal security because it might be adversely affected by an youthful / aggressive population group. A rising minority population is likely to more aggressive in snatching benefits, entitlement and ownership from declining majority. We find that in States where Muslim population is steadily rising the State Governments are in a surrendering mode on law & order. The same is happening in India and is likely to accentuate after the much awaited religion-wise figures are revealed. But as of now the UPA Government feels that it would lead to Hindu polarisation to benefit Modi in the ongoing election. Thus the UPA Government is likely to keep the religion-wise data as best kept secret until its ouster from power.
Source : Niti Central