CASTE BASED CENSUS
WHY IN NEWS ?
- As Supreme Court is set to hear on August 18, petitions challenging the Patna High Court (HC)’s verdict upholding the Bihar government’s ongoing caste survey.
WHAT IS CASTE BASED SURVEY ?
- Caste census means inclusion of caste-wise tabulation of region’s population in the Census exercise.
- The first Census in India began in 1872.
- The share of OBCs in the total population as per caste census for 1931, was found to be about 52 percent.
- The Scheduled Caste and Tribe data were published in every Indian census from 1951 to 2011; however, the data on other castes were not published.
- The last population Census of India was conducted in 2011.
ABOUT CASTE BASED CENSUS IN BIHAR:
- The process of caste-based survey started in Bihar from January 7, 2023.
- This census will be done in two phases. There are as many as 214 castes on Bihar government list.
- According to the list, 22 are to be counted in Scheduled Castes, 32 in Scheduled Tribes, 30 in Backward Classes, 113 in Extremely Backward Classes and 7 in Upper Castes.
- In the first phase which was from January 7, 2023 to January 21, 2023 the total number of the households were counted.
- In the second phased which is scheduled from April 1, 2023 to April 30 2023 individual information will be acquired on people of all castes, sub-castes, and religions.
- The Bihar government issued a notification on June 6, 2022, to conduct a caste survey in Bihar.
- The Bihar government will spend Rs 500 crore in this work from its contingency fund (Bihar Aakasmikta Nidhi),while 5 lakh employees together will conduct this survey in the entire state.
- Apart from government employees, Anganwadi workers and Jeevika Didi will also work in this.
- A target has been set to complete this survey by May 2023.
- A portal has been prepared for caste-based enumeration in Bihar.
- The digital work for caste-based enumeration in Bihar has been entrusted to Delhi-based company Trigyn Technologies.
- The survey is estimated to collect the socio economic data for a population of 12.70 crore in the 38 districts of Bihar.
- The first phase of the survey, which involved a house listing exercise, was carried out from January 7 to January 12.
- The State was in the middle of the second phase when the survey was halted due to a stay order from the HC on May 4.
NEED OF CASTE BASED CENSUS :
- The Census conducted at the beginning of every decade does not record any caste data other than for those listed as Scheduled Castes (SCs).
- In the absence of such a census, there is no proper estimate for the population of OBCs, various groups within the OBCs, and others.
- The Union government in 2011 had undertaken a survey of castes through the SocioEconomic and Caste Census of 2011.
- However, the collected raw data of nearly 130 crore Indians was never made public due to flaws in the data.
- The proponents of the caste-based census argue that the exercise is necessary to channel welfare policies and implement schemes according to the population.
- The scientific data to be collected through caste-based survey would facilitate in preparing state budget tailored for welfare of oppressed classes and better implementation of welfare schemes.
ADVANTAGES OF CASTE CENSUS:
- The caste demography data obtained from the caste census will help the Government in allocating optimum social justice resources to different communities of the state.
- It will help in identifying a particular community that is lagging behind in developmental aspects.
- Reservations and other social action programmes must be based on an accurate count of the beneficiaries, otherwise, formation of policies by the agencies will become a tedious task.
- The caste census will provide intricate details about the socio economic status of a particular caste such as life expectancy at birth, sex ratio, economic status, literary, population growth etc.
DISADVANTAGES OF CASTE CENSUS:
There are certain disadvantages of conducting the caste census as the process was opposed by some groups of people.
- It may result inn spreading caste feelings among the people.
- It may become a hindrance to the vision of making a uniform, caste-less society in the country.
- It may solidifies caste identities.
- It may give rise to caste based politics which will harm the development of the country as a whole.
WHY WAS BIHAR CASTE BASED CENSUS GOT CHALLENGED BEFORE JUDICIARY ?
- The petitions in the Supreme Court contend that the State’s June 6, 2022 order notifying the survey is unconstitutional since only the Centre is exclusively authorised to conduct a census under the Constitution.
- They also point out that the State Government does not have any independent power to appoint District Magistrates and local authorities for collating data, without a notification under Section 3 of the Census Act, 1948 by the Centre.
- The HC verdict has also been assailed on the ground that it violates the Puttaswamy judgment as it permits the collection of personal data by the State under an executive order.
- The HC had observed that the State is competent to frame a policy for better administration and that the policy is not arbitrary.
- States “cannot wait on their haunches” for the Centre to carry out a caste census.
SYLLABUS: MAINS, GS-2, INDIAN POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
SOURCE: THE HINDU