Caste-based Census in Bihar Begins Today
Attribution: Rickard Törnblad, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

In spite of all the commendable progresses made, unfortunately, birth-based, social inequality in the form of caste remains an ultimate ugly reality of Indian society; all that you have to do to see it is to open the matrimonial pages of national dailies to note parent’s preferences in selection of sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. The politics is not the fountainhead of caste, it only uses it.  

The first phase of caste-based census in Bihar begins today on Saturday 7th January 2023. Decision to this effect was made on 1st June 2022 by Bihar Government led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after all party meeting endorsed to conduct such a census for the residents of the state belonging to all religious groups.  

The aim behind the survey is to help the government formulate more accurate welfare schemes and to take people forward so that no one gets left behind. Last evening, while speaking on the rationale of the survey, CM Nitish Kumar said, “The caste-based headcount will be beneficial for all… It will enable the government to work for the development of various sections of the society, including those who are deprived. After completion of the enumeration exercise…, the final report will be sent to Centre also.” Further, he said. “People belonging to every religion and caste will be covered during the exercise. Proper training has been imparted to officials who are involved in the process of conducting the caste-based headcount”. 

The survey is being conducted in digital format in two phases. In the first phase, the number of all households in the state will be counted. This phase will be completed by 21st January 2023. The second phase will begin from March 2023. In this phase, information about castes, sub-castes, religions and financial status will be collected. This phase will be completed by May 2023.  

The last caste-based survey was conducted way back in 1931 under erstwhile British Government. There has been a consistent demand for this for a while. The constituents of the ruling alliance in Bihar had been demanding this for a while. Apparently, Central government had agreed for such a survey in 2010 but that did not go forward. However, the Centre do regularly conduct such a survey for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at national level.

Bihar politics and political parties are bound to be affected by this census as caste arithmetic do play a very significant role in electoral politics. The hard caste-data may come handy to poll managers in strategizing and fine-tuning campaigns. One can also expect such an exercise in other states and at national level soon.  

In spite of all the commendable progresses made, unfortunately, birth-based, social inequality in the form of caste remains an ultimate ugly reality of Indian society; all that you have to do to see it is to open the matrimonial pages of national dailies to note parent’s preferences in selection of sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. The politics is not the fountainhead of caste, it only uses it.  

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