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October 9, 2023 @ 7:30 am - 11:30 pm


Why is it in the News?

The Bihar government in June 2022 issued notification for conducting a caste survey. The two-phase counting exercise was completed in August this year involving around 2.64 lakh enumerators documenting details of 29 million registered households.

All 214 castes mentioned in the survey form were allotted different individual codes and the survey was segmented into 17 points, to find out the socio-economic profile of the population.

What are the outcomes of the survey?

Survey shows that extremely backward classes (EBCs) and other backward classes (OBCs) together add up to nearly 63% of the 13-crore population, making it the largest caste group in the State.

The survey shows that the EBCs with 112 castes comprise the largest chunk of the population in the State with a 36.01% share; with 29 castes and a 27.12% share, the OBCs are the second largest contingent of the population.

The Yadavs, with a 14.26% share, is the dominant caste in the OBC group. The Scheduled Castes population is pegged at 19.65% while the number of the general unreserved population is 15.52%.

Will this lead to more welfare schemes?

According to experts on the field, the survey report would definitely force political parties to announce and initiate more welfare schemes for the poor and marginalised sections of society.

Will the report lead to an increase in the reservation quota in Bihar?

Yes, the reservation quota will be increased in the State as per the population proportion which has come out in the survey report.

The census report is likely to pave the way for the political demand for doing away with the 50% ceiling on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court.

Political experts believe that the caste survey report would weaken “hindutva forces” in the upcoming elections in the country and the State as well.

What is the Census?

Origin of Census:

The origin of the Census in India goes back to the colonial exercise of 1881.

Census has evolved and been used by the government, policymakers, academics, and others to capture the Indian population, access resources, map social change, delimitation exercise, etc.

First Caste Census as SECC (Socio-Economic and Caste Census):

SECC was conducted for the first time in 1931.

SECC is meant to canvass every Indian family, both in rural and urban India, and ask about their:

Economic status, so as to allow Central and State authorities to come up with a range of indicators of deprivation, permutations, and combinations of which could be used by each authority to define a poor or deprived person.

It is also meant to ask every person their specific caste name to allow the government to re-evaluate which caste groups were economically worse off and which were better off.

Difference Between Census & SECC:

The Census provides a portrait of the Indian population, while the SECC is a tool to identify beneficiaries of state support.

Since the Census falls under the Census Act of 1948, all data are considered confidential, whereas according to the SECC website, “all the personal information given in the SECC is open for use by Government departments to grant and/or restrict benefits to households.”

What are the Issues With the Caste Census?

Repercussions of a Caste Census:

Caste has an emotive element and thus there exist the political and social repercussions of a caste census.

There have been concerns that counting caste may help solidify or harden identities.

Due to these repercussions, nearly a decade after the SECC, a sizable amount of its data remains unreleased or released only in parts.

Caste is Context-specific:

Caste has never been a proxy for class or deprivation in India; it constitutes a distinct kind of embedded discrimination that often transcends class.

For example:

People with Dalit last names are less likely to be called for job interviews even when their qualifications are better than that of an upper-caste candidate.

They are also less likely to be accepted as tenants by landlords.

Marriage to a well-educated, well-off Dalit man still sparks violent reprisals among the families of upper-caste women every day across the country.

Many critics have dubbed the move as regressive, cynical, and unimaginative, and a return to the ‘Mandal versus Mandir’ politics we had supposedly left behind in the 1990s.

Mains Questions

  1. Discuss the various issues related with Caste Census in India? (150 Words) 10 Marks


October 9, 2023
7:30 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: