Karnataka: Hegde commission submits caste survey report to CM | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Karnataka: Hegde commission submits caste survey report to CM

BySharath Sharma Kalagaru, Bengaluru
Mar 01, 2024 06:46 AM IST

The survey, which was commissioned by Siddaramaiah in 2015 during his first tenure as chief minister (2013 to 2018), covered over 13 million households

Karnataka’s much awaited socio-economic and education survey report, popularly known as the caste survey report, was submitted to chief minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday by the chairman of state’s backward classes commission, K Jayaprakash Hegde, setting the state’s political pot boiling ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah receives the 'Caste Census' report submitted by K Jayaprakash Hegde, chairman of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, in Bengaluru (ANI)
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah receives the 'Caste Census' report submitted by K Jayaprakash Hegde, chairman of the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes, in Bengaluru (ANI)

The survey, which was commissioned by Siddaramaiah in 2015 during his first tenure as chief minister (2013 to 2018), covered over 13 million households comprising over 59 million residents across the state.

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The survey was mired in controversies even before its report was submitted as a portion of its leaked report allegedly disputed the numerical strength of Lingayats and Vokkaligas — the dominant castes in the southern state. The exact figures will be known after the report is made public by the government.

“We don’t know what is in the report. I have received the report, it will be placed before the cabinet for discussion,” Siddaramaiah told reporters.

A schism had surfaced within the Karnataka’s ruling Congress regarding the release of the survey findings, with Siddaramaiah and deputy CM DK Shivakumar being at odds over the matter. While the CM had said he would take a call after receiving the report, Shivakumar, who is also the state Congress chief and a prominent leader from the Vokkaliga community, had advocated for a re-conduct of the survey.

The demand to make public the survey findings increased especially after the release of the Bihar government’s caste survey report in October last year.

The Hegde-led commission was supposed to submit the report to the government in November last year. However, after it sought more time, the Congress government extended his tenure for the submission of the report. Hegde’s tenure came to an end on Thursday after the submission of the report.

“We have submitted the survey. It was conducted by teachers and government officials across Karnataka. We have prepared a detailed report on the survey and given it to the chief minister... We have not given highlights of the survey to the government or anybody. Our duty is done, now it’s up to the government to take the call,” Hegde told reporters.

The survey covered 13,500,772 houses and collected details from 59,814,942 people across the state, he said, without divulging the content of the report. “The report runs into 292 pages… It is not based on a sample survey, it is based on an actual survey of most of the population of the state,” Hegde said.

He further said the socio-educational survey helps in identifying the social, economic, educational situation of the people. “It is helpful in re-categorising the population as per their caste and socio educational and economic condition,” Hegde said. “Ball is in the government’s court now. We have done our part.”

On the delay in submitting the report, Hegde clarified: “There were some technical issues which created the delay. We were scrutinising the final draft of the survey report.”

On a question over the impact of the report on policymaking, he added: “It is up to the government.”

Hegde further said that 54 data points were collected from residents in the survey. The data points include religion, caste, occupation, income, expenditure, education, economical condition, assets, debts, and movable properties. “Survey is not only concentrating on castes, there are 54 data points with caste just one of them,” Hegde said.

In 2015, the Karnataka State Commission for Backward Classes under its then chairperson H Kantharaju was tasked with preparing a caste survey report. The survey work was completed in 2018, towards the end of Siddaramaiah’s first tenure as CM, but the report was not accepted or made public.

However, a portion of the report was leaked ahead of the 2018 assembly polls. The leaked data indicated a decrease in the population of Lingayats from 17-18% to below 10%, and of Vokkaligas from around 14% to nearly 8%. It also elevated Dalits as the largest group at around 24% and nearly 55% of Karnataka’s population belonging to backward classes.

Vokkaliags and Lingayats have opposed the survey, calling it “unscientific” and demanded a fresh survey to be conducted.

State’s minister for backward classes development Shivaraj Tangadagi said the government has accepted the report as promised. “We have accepted the report and we will study and place it before the cabinet. After studying the report, the CM will take the final call. We will discuss the implementation in the cabinet,” Tangadagi said. “We can’t hurry this. Those who are opposing it are blindly resisting.”

Reacting to the development, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Arvind Bellad, a Lingayat, said they do not accept this survey. “There are 107 sub-castes in the Lingayat community, such as Sadara, Kumbara, Kammara and Ganiga. They don’t mention it as Lingayat because they will lose benefits under 2A reservation (15% backward classes quota in education and jobs). Siddaramaiah is trying to count the population of Lingayat and Vokkaliga minus the sub castes and say Lingayat and Vokkaliga are less in numbers,” Bellad alleged. “The Congress government is doing this in order to gain political mileage. We won’t accept this report.”

Congress leader and state MB Patil, however, said: “We have requested to count all the Lingayat sub-groups under one heading irrespective of what they have mentioned for reservation purposes. If that has been done successfully then we do not have any issue. If it is not done according to our apprehensions then the community leaders will take the call.”

Chandan Gowda, professor of sociology at Azim Premji University, welcomed the survey report. “A socio-economic survey has to be conducted every 10 years across the country to understand the current situation of backward classes. It is a welcome act by the state government. We don’t know what is there in the survey and hence I cannot comment who will benefit from this. Lingayat and Vokkaliga leaders are opposing it across the parties and politically the ruling party may not gain anything from this. Let the report be made public.”

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