Monday, May 17, 2010

Jains Campaign on Census

Jinal Shah Tags : Census, Jains Posted: Mon May 17 2010, 00:26 hrs Mumbai:

Ahead of religion entry in February, activists write articles, circulate emails, posters, cellphone messages across community

Rajesh Shah (name changed), 52, of Ghatkopar refused to sign on the census form last week. He had resolved to register himself as a “Jain” in the religion column. The data collector had a hard time explaining that religion will only be included in the second round next February.

The city’s Jains want to make sure they get counted in Census 2011; they feel previous figures have not been a true representation of their population.

The Census will involve the task of preparing, for the first time, the National Population Register (NPR) and Jains feel this is the perfect opportunity. “This is the right time to make Jains aware of their right to be counted as Jains,” said Nitin H P of Bangalore, who has started a website on Jain heritage. “The religion column will be added in the second round; we have time to educate people.”

Jains from across India have been carrying out awareness campaigns, using the Internet, SMS campaigns, pamphlets and announcements at religious discourses, with the Jain Samaj in many cities having requested priests at temples to educate people.

In the South, activists have written in periodicals like the one from the Jain math of Shravanabelagola, and on websites such as and In the North, Young Jains has campaigned with posters in 50 temples urging people to register themselves as Jains, not Hindus.

“Over the years, knowingly or unknowingly, a lot of Jains have enrolled themselves as Hindus under the misconception that Hinduism and Jainism are similar,” said Yogesh Jain of Young Jains.

In Mumbai, Yuva Jains has sent more than 3,000 messages across the community. “We have a database of cellphone numbers of Jains in Mumbai,” said Rajen Parekh, 31, of Yuva Jains.

Of emails being circulated, one reads: “1st April, 2010 marks a historic day for the people of our country, India. Over next 1 year, everything - good or bad, small or big is going to be counted. Are we going to make ourselves count as Jains .Will India’s Jain Population dwindle further or are we going to make our presence felt through sheer Numbers? - Onus is on all the Jains.”

The ‘Report on Religion: Census of India 2001’ showed the Jain population at 42 lakh, a 26 per cent growth from 1981-91 to 1991-2001, but many in the community contested the number.

“According to many organisations, activists, Jain scholars and leaders, the actual population should at least be around 35 to 40 million. But this is not seen in the Census data due to many reasons like ignorance among data collectors as well as Jains,” said Nitin H P.

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