The Bihar government on Monday released findings of its caste census which revealed that OBCs and EBCs constitute a whopping 63 per cent of the state’s total population -- 27.13 per cent are backward class, 36.01 per cent are the extremely backward class and 15.52 per cent are general category.
Notably, the survey was ordered last year after the Narendra Modi government at the Centre made it clear that it would not be able to undertake a headcount of castes other than SCs and STs as part of the census. India had last conducted an exercise to count the population of all caste groups in 1931.
Bihar Caste Census Report
The survey stated that Yadavs, the OBC group to which Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav belongs, were the largest in terms of population, accounting for 14.27 per cent of the total population.
Hindu population in the State is 81.99 per cent while Muslim population is 17.70 per cent. Scheduled Caste (SC) population is 19.65 per cent, while the Musahars constitute 3 per cent and Brahmins are 3.65 per cent. However, it is all compiled data and no analysis has been done yet on these data, Singh said while releasing the caste survey report. Christians, Sikhs, Jains and those following other religions as also the non-believers have a miniscule presence, together making up for less than one per cent of the total population.
The Patna High Court had earlier dismissed pleas challenging the decision of the Bihar Government to conduct a caste-based survey in the state, which essentially paved the way for conducting the exercise. Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for NGO 'Youth for Equality' which was challenging the survey, had submitted that the exercise was an infringement of people's right to privacy.
The high court had then said in its 101-page verdict, "We find the action of the state to be perfectly valid, initiated with due competence with the legitimate aim of providing development with justice."
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had backed the Congress’ call for a nationwide caste census, saying it would be beneficial for all sections of society. The BJP unit in Bihar had also supported a resolution by the government but the central leadership did not respond.
The chief minister today lauded the publication of the survey’s findings. “Caste-based census not only revealed the castes, but also gave information about the economic condition of everyone,” Kumar said on social media. “On this basis, further action will be taken for the development and upliftment of all sections,” he said.
RJD president Lalu Prasad, who is Kumar’s ally as well as the father of his deputy Tejashwi Yadav, also issued a statement, declaring that the exercise will set the tone for “a nationwide caste census which will be undertaken when we form the next government at the Centre”. Both Prasad and Kumar have played an instrumental role in the formation of the INDIA coalition, which affirmed its commitment to holding a caste census at a meeting it held in Bengaluru recently.