The Bihar government’s caste-count
- The Bihar Cabinet, along with the State BJP approved a proposal to carry out a caste-based ‘count’ in the State.
Stand of Union Government
- The Union Government has categorically ruled out conducting a caste census as it would be “administratively difficult and cumbersome.”
- Caste census would be a “divisive exercise”.
The case of Bihar
- The demand for a caste census in the State is an attempt to revive Mandal politics.
- Almost all political parties in Bihar identify themselves with a particular caste, sub-caste or community for representation.
- Leaders cannot afford to take their political identity out of that caste or group.
- The objective behind this demand is to bring out the recent changes in caste groups and how resources may be best shared.
- The data will help the State government understand the exact population of various caste groups and assess the socio-economic development in every group, and the welfare schemes needed for their benefit.
What are the benefits of a caste count?
- Social equality programmes and welfare measures cannot be successfully implemented without comprehensive data and for this a caste count is necessary in a State known to be fragmented into several castes, sub-castes, groups and communities.
- In a modern state, a count of every category of citizens is necessary so that they can get the benefit of all welfare measures.
- In the absence of such data, there is no proper estimate for the population of other backward classes (OBC)s, extremely backward classes (EBCs) and several other groups within them.
- A caste-based count goes a long way in bringing a measure of objectivity to the debate on reservations.
- If the objective of conducting a caste-based count is to get the caste distribution of the population, it does not require a costly exercise like a census.
- A proper statistical processing or analysis of the information with the government is sufficient for the purpose of public policy design.
- The usual Census data already provides information useful for formulating public policy.
Have such exercises happened in other States?
- The Tamil Nadu government has appointed a commission to formulate a methodology to collect caste-wise particulars of its population and use that to come up with a report.
- States like Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana have carried out caste counts, calling it a "socio-economic survey".
- Socio-economic caste census (SECC)
- Census and related data