1st ever OBC survey gets underway in Odisha
The Other Backward Classes survey comes against the backdrop of the demands for caste census across the country
The Odisha government on Monday began its first-ever survey of social and educational conditions of people belonging to 208 backward castes with a questionnaire on the kind of houses they live in, their livelihoods, access to infrastructure, hospitals, schools, markets, colleges, etc.
The survey comes against the backdrop of the demands for a caste census across the country. Bihar earlier initiated its own caste census in January.
The survey in Odisha will be conducted until May 27. “It aims to find out the social and educational status of backward classes. It is crucial for focused planning for their socio-economic development. The survey data would help us plan for the OBC [Other Backward Classes] better,” said state minister Jagannath Sarka.
Political observer Rabi Das said once the survey results are in, it would make the exact population of the OBCs clear for proportional reservation. “It would also outsmart opposition BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] eyeing OBC votes. Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP’s most prominent face in Odisha, is an OBC.”
Questions being asked as part of the survey include those related to representation in self-help groups, constitutional posts, businesses, etc.
BJP’s state OBC cell chief Surath Biswal said many people working outside the state would be excluded from the survey as they may not be internet-savvy enough to log into a portal created for it and submit their particulars.
He said many castes have been excluded from the state’s Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) list. “The present SEBC list is not a final one. At present, the names of at least 20 castes are on the OBC list of the central government but not on the state SEBC list.”
He added castes on the central list should automatically be included on the State OBC list. “But that has not happened. If the names of people from these castes are not on the SEBC list, what kind of survey is it?”
Activist Manoj Jena said chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who has been in power since 2000, has built the women’s vote-bank, but it may be transient. “The youth may not back his party in the next polls considering high unemployment. The caste factor may just help him,” said Jena.
The state is due to go to the polls next year along with the national elections.