Census-2021 will not include OBC classification, says MHA official
Census 2021 will not count the number of people who come under the tag of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), a senior home ministry official said on Friday, requesting not to be named.
“We don’t have any instructions from the government to collect data on the number of OBCs. But Census 2021 will capture the number of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) and other parameters as provided in the law,” the official said.
The decision not to enumerate OBCs flies in the face of expectations that Census 2021 will collect data on people who fall under the category to assess the effectiveness of affirmative action programmes and welfare schemes they have been entitled to for years.
A previous attempt to map the number of OBCs and their socio-economic conditions – through Census 2011 under the United Progressive Alliance government – ran aground because as many four million permutations and combination of different communities were reported by respondents. The results of the census have not been made public yet. They are still being considered by NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think tank.
The results of Census 2021 – the first phase of which starts next year - are likely to be out as early as in 2022-2023, senior home ministry officials said. In contrast, the results of Census 2011 took nearly nine years to be published.
The key reason why the process is expected to be quicker in 2021 is the use of mobile phones for collection of data. In addition, the questions have been tweaked to allow results to be encoded and handwritten data entries reduced;
The home ministry hopes that a majority of the 3.1 million enumerators will be using the in-house application to record data, circumventing the earlier process of scanning paper schedules and extracting data using specialized computer programmes.
And, to ensure maximum use of the mobile application to collect the data, the ministry is placing special focus on training the enumerators. In the last census, the government had used non-government organizations to train enumerators.
A pilot project, or “pre-test,” to test the mobile application and responses to questions will be carried out in as many as 5,000 so-called Enumeration Blocks across the country. “Questions and method of collection will be tweaked to make the process smoother if required,” a second senior home ministry official who did not want to be named said.