Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that hopefully there will be a consensus among all the political parties in the state on caste census and steps to conduct it will be figured out.
Talking to reporters, CM Nitish Kumar, "We are of the view that caste census should be carried out across India. Earlier also, a delegation of 10 parties had met PM Narendra Modi to press for a caste census. Within a few days, all the parties in Bihar will work out to conduct a caste census in the state context. I am hopeful that there will be a consensus among all the parties."
Referring to a NITI Aayog study, Best Practices in the Performance of District Hospitals - on the number of beds per lakh population - according to which Bihar has only six beds per 1 lakh population, the CM said that the richest states in the country could not be compared with the poorest state.
He said, "Is it correct to compare Maharashtra with Bihar? Maharashtra is the richest state of the country whereas Bihar is the poorest." He further said, "The NITI Aayog should conduct a study on the basis of the financial condition of the states. There should be different studies for poor states and rich states. The assessment of NITI Aayog is not correct. Whenever there is a next formal meeting with NITI Aayog, I will raise this issue with them."
What is the need for caste census?
The demand for a caste census is an old and sensitive one. Castes begun to be officially enumerated in the British era and the last caste census was conducted in 1931.
The caste-based census and its impact on the country's political landscape remain a sensitive issue for the government, given the fact that seven states will go for assembly polls over the next year.
Meanwhile, the BJP seems to be not in favour of a caste-based census as it had firmly stated in the Parliament’s recently concluded Monsoon Session that it will not undertake a caste-based survey as a policy matter.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, BJP allies such as the JD-U, Apna Dal and Republican Party of India-Athawale have raised the demand for holding a caste-based census.
JD(U) has said that said the government will be able to translate its slogan of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishvas' into reality if it knows who is standing in the last queue of development.
According to Financial Express, till now there is no clarity over the population of OBCs. The Mandal commission estimated OBCs constituted about 52% of the population, but the NSSO survey of 2007 put the number at 41 per cent. This increases the chances of possible errors in the upcoming census.
The Centre has clarified that the Office of the Registrar General, India had provided the raw caste data to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) for the classification and categorization of the data. But there is no proposal to release the caste data at this stage, said the Home Ministry.
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