Caste Survey in Bihar

Context: Supreme Court will hear petitions challenging the Patna High Court’s verdict upholding the Bihar government’s ongoing caste survey.  About Caste Survey in Bihar:
  • Aim: To collect demographic data like the number of households, the number of people in each household, their socio-economic conditions, and their castes.
  • It is a survey, not a census, as the Indian Constitution does not empower state governments to conduct census-gathering exercises.
About Census:
  • The decennial Census of India measures demographic data like age, marital status, religion, whether Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, mother tongue, education level, disability, economic activity, migration, and fertility.
  • Thus, there is readily available data on the number of individuals belonging to SCs or STs and to different religious groups.
  • However, since 1931, no census in India has measured the number of OBCs in the country. 
Caste Census and Reservation:
  • Mandal Commission made its recommendation for bringing 27 percent reservation for OBCs based on the data of the census of 1931. 
  • The commission used extrapolated data and determined that 52 percent of the total population of India, outside of ST and SC, belonged to OBCs.
  • While the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) was conducted in 2011, its result was never published by the central government.
About Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC):
  • It is conducted through a comprehensive program involving the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India and the State Governments. 
  • Aim: Collecting data on the socio-economic and caste status of households and individuals living in rural areas of India.
  • Significance: Tool for the government to identify and target social welfare schemes and programs to those who are most in need.
  • Indicators used to determine socio-economic status in the census:
    1. Ownership of assets such as land, house, and vehicle
    2. Type of house (pucca, semi-pucca, or kaccha)
    3. Access to basic amenities such as electricity, water, and sanitation
    4. Occupation and education level of household members
    5. Income levels of household members
News Source: The Hindu

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