Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Fresh storm brewing in the ‘census’ drill

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, March 5 [2001]- The once in a decade census that determines everything from the fiscal budget to future planning for the country is being conducted this year. Yet, people especially the ethnic minority groups are expressing their doubts that the results would be anything close to the reality.

Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) is conducting a nation-wide census from June 10 to 21 that is suppose to show statistical reality of a country.

But even before officials leave for the cities, towns, villages and remote dwellings knocking on doors, these groups are already crying about conspiracy. And it is not just them ... Majority groups too are crying foul here.

On one hand, Nationalities associations claim that a big conspiracy is being woven to project non-Hindus and people outside the Bahun and Kshetris communities fewer than their actual number in this country that is known for its rich ethnic diversity; Hindu organisations say that this census is an attempt to dismantle the only Hindu Kingdom in the world.

Balkrishna Mabuhang, the general-secretary of Nepal Federation of Nationalities (NFN) said that the nationalities are not confident about results of the coming census.

"We (Nationalities) are not assured that the government would publish true facts. As in the past, they will show that majority of the country is comprised of the Hindus that include Bahun and Kshetris," he said.

He charged that CBS, which is controlled by these predominant caste groups, deliberately ignored NFN’s co-operative approaches and refused their help in the census.

According to him, the bureaucrats want to hide the reality from the world because they do not want the world to know about who suffers the most in economy, education, employment and health and that they belong to the lower class people and the Nationalities.

Similarly, chairman of Dharmodaya Sabha, the leading Buddhist organisation, Lok Darshan Bajracharya said that he believes that only 60 per cent of the figures in the census result could be regarded as credible.

"The government is trying to show that there are only handful of Buddhist in this country," he said.

In 1961, 1971 and 1981, the percentage of the Buddhists was projected as 9.3, 7.5 and 5.3 respectively in CBS reports.

He accused the government that the enumerators are not selected democratically, CBS has never held discussions or interaction programmes with activists and concerned citizens and that is the reason why the present census format is faulty.

He particularly blames the government body for not making the people aware of the objectives, importance and process of census, among the mass.

The Hindus, who are estimated to be 80-to-90 per cent of the total population of the country, too are also not satisfied with the present census pattern.

Senior vice-chairman of World Hindu Federation-Nepal, Bharat Keshar Singh said that a grand plot is being designed to fragment the only Hindu Kingdom and this census is part of the plots.

"Over 40,000 people are working actively to take advantage of this census to bring down the percentage of the Hindus to 17 per cent and then to make this country a secular one. Then they will one day challenge our Hindu King also," he claimed.

"So many new Nationalities and religions have suddenly appeared in this small country. This is a cleverly planned strategy to break the country into small pieces," he claimed.

CBS, the government authority to hold census, however, says the bureau is working hard to compile the true statistics from all over the country.

CBS Deputy General Director Radha Krishna GC said, "We are positive that the result of the census would be conscientious because the people have become fairly aware by now and we are also well prepared."

Trainings on various levels are in the offing and questionnaires and other related documents would be dispatched to the districts next month, he said.

About advertisement, GC admits that due to lack of budget, CBS has not been able to disseminate basic information about the census all over the country.