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Caste-Based Survey by Bihar and The Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution

  • Context (TH): The Bihar caste survey showed that the Other Backward Classes and the Extremely Backward Classes constituted 63% of the State’s population.
  • According to the report
    • The population of Bihar is 13.07 crore.
    • Hindus comprise 81.9% of the population, while the Muslim share is 17.7%.
Class/Caste Population (%)
Other Backward Class (OBC) 27.1%
Extremely Backward Class (EBC) 36.01%.
Scheduled Caste 19.6%
Scheduled Tribe 1.68%
General Caste population 15.5%.
  • This caste census may lead to the demand for the caste census at an all-India level.
  • It may lead to division among OBCs at the national level.
  • The Rohini Commission may propose division among OBCs as:
    1. Annexure I [EBC (Extremely Backward Classes)/MBC (Most Backward Classes)/BC1]
    2. Annexure II (OBC/BC2)

Arguments in Favour of Caste Census

  • The caste data will help the government:
    • To determine who requires affirmative action.
    • To take affirmative steps in favour of disadvantaged sections of society.
    • To assess the effectiveness of affirmative action.
    • To make evidence-based policies.
  • The data on caste is necessary to analyse, monitor and eradicate the caste.

Arguments against the Caste Census

  • It may deepen the caste system and shift the focus away from casteless society.
  • Caste may play a decisive role in politics.

Caste Census and Muslims

  • The survey showed a caste system among Muslims in the State.
  • Disadvantaged among Muslims may demand the reservation.

Effect on Reservation

  • In the Indira Sawhney vs. Union of India case (1992), the SC accepted the 50% ceiling on reservations in jobs and educational institutions.
  • This caste census can open the door for challenging the ceiling of 50% reservations in jobs and educational institutions.
  • In the EWS quota case, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari (now retired) said that:
    • The 50% ceiling limit was neither inflexible nor inviolable for all times to come.
    • Reservation by affirmative action by the State cannot be seen as damaging the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

The Seventh Schedule of the IC

  • It has three lists dividing power between the Union and States concerning certain subjects:
    1. The Union List (97 Subjects)
    2. The State List (66 Subjects)
    3. The Concurrent List (47 Subjects)

Census and Caste data

  • The 1931 Census was the last that officially collected full caste data.
  • Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but not on other castes.

Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC)

  • In 2011, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in rural areas and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) in urban areas started SECC.
  • The SECC data, excluding caste data, was finalised and published by the two ministries in 2016.
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