oppn parties Bihar To Have Caste Census, Says Nitish Kumar

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Bihar To Have Caste Census, Says Nitish Kumar

By Linus Garg
First publised on 2022-05-17 07:12:06

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Linus tackles things head-on. He takes sides in his analysis and it fits excellently with our editorial policy. No 'maybe's' and 'allegedly' for him, only things in black and white.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has announced the decision to have an all-party meeting to get feedback on having a caste census in the state despite objections from its ally the BJP. Since almost all parties other than the state BJP are in favour of the caste census, it is a given that the JD(U) will present a proposal before the state cabinet after the all-party meeting and will begin the process. Nitish also said that it will not take much time and will be done in a "proper way".

Apart from the BJP which staunchly opposes the caste census and the Congress which has yet to state its preference, most other parties are vocal about having caste based enumeration along with Census 2022. But the BJP cites technical difficulties and policy after 1951 to oppose the same. Since SC/ST enumeration is already being done, it is possible to have OBC enumeration as per the Central list by just inserting another column in the census format. The difficulty lies in enumerating the so-called general castes of which there is no list and any such enumeration will need time-consuming and back-breaking post-Census work. But comprehensive software can be developed for the same and it can be done more easily than it is being thought.

In this age when empirical data drives, or should drive, all policy decisions to ensure fairness and even spread of welfare schemes, India, which runs the largest affirmative action schemes in the world, throws arrows in the dark. Perhaps the BJP is afraid that if the OBCs turn out to comprise even 40% of the population, the 27% reservation for them will seem too little and then there would be demand for raising the limit, further reducing the pie for the general classes. A trailer to what is in store can be gauged from Akhilesh Yadav's slogan "jiski jitni sankhya bhari, uski utni hissedari" (or percentage of reservation should be based on the percentage share in the population). The BJP wants to avoid another Mandal-type agitation. But to avoid that it should instead call an all-party meeting at the Centre and thrash out the modalities of conducting a caste census across the country and also get all parties to commit to how to reset reservation percentages after the data is received. Otherwise, different states will conduct it on their own, leading to a chaotic situation.