The question the Supreme Court recently raised about the exact count of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the country has finally been answered. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report released on Tuesday reveals that OBC population has increased from 35.8 per cent in 1999 to 41 per cent in 2004-05.
However, the Scheduled Castes (20 per cent) and Scheduled Tribes (eight per cent) population has remained static says the report based on the survey of 1.25 lakh households across India. Concentration of people from the socially weaker groups is more in rural India as compared to towns and cities.
The survey brings out that the OBCs have a buying capacity almost equal to that of the forward communities and more than SC's and ST's.
The NSSO assigns no reasons for this phenomenon. But the OBCs were always socially connected - unlike the SCs - and were therefore better placed to be gainfully self-employed.
In rural India, as many as eight per cent of OBCs spends Rs 1,100 or more every month as compared to 11 per cent of the forward communities.
For SC and STs, the percentage is as low as two and one per cent respectively. A reason for this may be better land holding among OBCs as compared to SCs and STs.
The OBCs see a jump in their spending capability of more than Rs 1,100 every month in urban India with percentage rising to 10 per cent as compared to 12 per cent for other communities. In urban areas, even purchasing power of even STs rises to about 13 per cent.
OBCs may be economically better but STs have the best-employed rate with 50 per followed by SCs and OBC with about 42 per cent.
The others are poorly employed at just 38.9 per cent, a dip of two per cent for them.
India's over all employment rate is 42 per cent, an increase of about three per cent as compared to 1999.