Nitish Kumar reiterates demand for caste-based census

Kumar said they have shared their thoughts about a caste-based census in the House in February 2019 and 2020.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (ANI)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. (ANI)
Published on Jul 24, 2021 04:41 PM IST
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Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday reiterated his demand for a caste-based census, saying it will help in better decisions for the people’s development and welfare.

“We will request the Centre that a caste-based census should be done at least once,” said Kumar. “I have been saying for a long time that once caste-based census must be done, as it will give a clear idea about the population of different castes. It will help in planning for them. An attempt was made in 2010 but it was not done properly. It was completed in 2013 but never published.”

Kumar said they have shared their thoughts about a caste-based census in the House in February 2019 and 2020. He said it will help expand the benefits of government schemes and make it easier to work for development.

In 2019, the Bihar assembly passed two resolutions favouring a caste-wise census in 2021 and for continuing with the old 200-point roster system, which treats the university as the unit, for job quotas while opposing the 13-point system that treats the department as the unit.

In 2020, ahead of the state elections, the assembly passed resolutions against the National Register of Citizens and for the caste-based census in 2021.

The Centre has said, as a matter of policy, there will be no enumeration as per caste other than that for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) for the census. It has cited the provisions of the Constitution and reservation of seats for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and in the assemblies as per their proportion in the population.

Kumar’s emphasis for a caste-based census is based on the proposal of the Justice Rohini Commission for the sub-categorisation of reservation for Other Backward Class (OBCs). The commission was set up in 2017 and has recommended splitting 27% reservation for the OBCs into different categories for equitable distribution of benefits among different sub-castes to ensure that the benefits reached the really deprived sections.

After several extensions, the panel submitted its report in February 2021 dividing 2,633 OBC castes on the Central list into four sub-categories for splitting the 27% quota into 2, 6, 9, and 10%.

India’s last caste census was conducted 90 years ago in 1931.

Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav questioned Kumar what the ruling Janata Dal (United) or JD (U) will do if the Centre does not consider the caste census. “JD (U) has a stake in the Centre now with a cabinet minister. Why did JD (U) still have to persuade the Bharatiya Janata Party.”

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    Vijay is chief of bureau, Patna. He has spent 21 years in journalism and covers political beats and public affairs.

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