• Mon. May 20th, 2024

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what has happened?

With the 2024 General Election still on the horizon, the Bihar government made a significant move on Monday by unveiling its long-awaited caste survey report. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took the opportunity to congratulate the survey team on their diligent work, emphasizing the importance of this compiled data. However, he pointed out that as of now, no in-depth analysis of the findings has been conducted.

Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav echoed Kumar’s sentiments and referred to this unveiling as a “historic moment” for the state. The release of this caste survey report marks a pivotal step in understanding the social and demographic landscape of Bihar, which could have far-reaching implications for political strategies and policies leading up to the upcoming General Election.

courts decision about Caste Survey

The path of the caste survey was fraught with challenges and legal hurdles. Soon after commencing its second phase on April 15, the survey faced a significant setback when the Patna High Court intervened in May, issuing a stay order on the survey. The court’s rationale behind this decision was its assertion that the state lacked the competence to carry out such a caste survey.

However, the twists and turns of this legal saga took an unexpected turn approximately three months later. In a surprising reversal, the same Patna High Court declared the survey to be “perfectly valid.” This about-face in the court’s stance added a layer of complexity to the narrative surrounding the caste survey, leaving many to ponder the implications and significance of this legal rollercoaster in the context of Bihar’s social and political landscape.

survey analysis

The revelations from the Caste Survey are of profound significance, shedding light on the demographic fabric of Bihar, a state known for its rich cultural diversity and historical significance. The data from the survey underscores the pivotal role played by the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) in shaping the social landscape, accounting for an impressive majority, comprising over 63% of Bihar’s sprawling population.

In the context of Bihar’s current population, as delineated by the census, which stands at an impressive 13,07,25,310 individuals, the magnitude of OBCs emerges prominently, constituting a substantial 27% of this vibrant mosaic. Equally noteworthy are the Extremely Backward Classes, whose numerical strength stands at an astonishing 36%, with a formidable presence comprising 4,70,80,514 individuals.

These statistics serve as a testament to the diverse tapestry of identities and backgrounds that intertwine within Bihar’s borders, reflecting the need for nuanced policies and initiatives that take into account the multifaceted composition of its populace. The survey’s findings call for thoughtful deliberation and comprehensive planning to address the unique needs and aspirations of these significant segments of society, fostering inclusivity, and social progress for all.

The statistics of Caste Survey presented here serve as a striking juxtaposition to the magnitude of reservation, set at 27%, that the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community receives for government job opportunities and access to educational institutions.

It is quite evident that Bihar’s Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, is poised to leverage the invaluable insights gleaned from this survey not merely for political advantage within the state but also on a broader national scale. The comprehensive data collected from this survey has the potential to profoundly influence policy decisions, offering a substantial political tool that can be wielded not only to address the concerns and aspirations of the OBC population within Bihar but also to shape the discourse surrounding affirmative action and social justice across the entire country.

General Category

The “General” category, often referred to as the “forward” castes, constitutes a relatively small portion of the population, accounting for just 15.5% of the total populace, according to the recently released census data made public by the State Development Commissioner, Vivek Singh.

These comprehensive census figures also illuminate the demographic composition of the state, indicating that approximately 20% of Bihar’s population, which translates to a substantial 2.6 crore individuals, belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), historically marginalized communities who have been the focus of affirmative action and social upliftment initiatives.

In addition to the SCs, the data underscores the presence of Scheduled Tribes (STs), comprising a modest 1.6% of Bihar’s population, equivalent to approximately 22 lakh people. These statistics provide valuable insights into the societal composition of Bihar, highlighting the diversity and varying degrees of historical disadvantage experienced by different segments of the population.

Are Caste Survey data truly surprising?

The allocation of reservation quotas for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Bihar, as well as in other regions, has historically been assumed to represent a significantly larger proportion than the 27% reservation they receive for government jobs and educational institution admissions. The Mandal Commission, an influential body that released its findings in 1980, estimated that the OBC population constituted 52% of the entire country.

For quite some time, OBC communities have contended that, even with the reservation system in place, the so-called forward castes have managed to secure a disproportionately large share of government jobs in comparison to their actual population. This persistent perception raises important questions about the effectiveness of reservation policies and their equitable distribution among different caste groups.

political impact of the census

The political implications of the proposed caste census in Bihar are profound and multifaceted, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar strategically positioning himself to leverage this demographic exercise for both state and national political agendas. Since 2022, Nitish Kumar has deftly woven the caste census into the fabric of his political strategy, recognizing its potential to not only maintain his relevance in state politics but also to establish a significant presence within the broader national opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While the BJP is expected to place issues such as the Uniform Civil Code and the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya at the forefront of its Lok Sabha campaign, Nitish Kumar is poised to utilize the data from the caste census as a powerful rallying point for advocating “social justice” and “development with justice.” This move represents a calculated effort to address the socioeconomic disparities deeply rooted in caste dynamics and to mobilize voters on the premise of rectifying historical injustices.

What adds a layer of complexity to this situation is the unexpected support for the caste census from all political quarters, including the Bihar BJP. Surprisingly, the state unit of the BJP has consistently endorsed the idea of conducting a caste census, setting aside ideological differences to join hands with other regional parties in urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a nationwide caste survey. This unprecedented unity across party lines underscores the significance and urgency of addressing caste-related issues in India’s political landscape.

The backdrop of this discussion traces its roots to the 1992 Supreme Court decision in the Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India case, which established a 50% cap on reservations in jobs and educational institutions. This landmark ruling followed the announcement by the V.P. Singh Government to implement the Mandal Commission report, which recommended reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). These historical events serve as a backdrop to the contemporary political discourse surrounding the caste census, highlighting the enduring relevance of caste-based affirmative action in Indian politics.

In essence, the caste census in Bihar has evolved into a pivotal political tool, with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and various political parties recognizing its potential to reshape the narrative of social justice, development, and equitable representation. As the census progresses, it will likely continue to influence political strategies, alliances, and the broader discourse on caste-based affirmative action in India.

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Caste Survey

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