Following Bihar's example, the Odisha government is gearing up to release a survey report on backward classes. The Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes (OSCBC), which conducted the survey between May and July this year, has recently submitted its findings to the state government.
Times of India sources indicate that 42 per cent of the state's 4.7 crore population fall under the category of 208 backward classes. An official mentioned that the government is likely to make the report public soon.
Senior BJD MLA and former minister Debi Prasad Mishra stated on Tuesday (3 October) that domain experts are currently analysing the collected data. He emphasszed the government's clear intent to accurately enumerate Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and extend benefits to them. Mishra added, "The commission's report is being studied."
The OSCBC conducted the survey on the social and educational status of backward classes from 1 May to 10 July. Initially, individuals from identified backward classes were encouraged to voluntarily report their occupation and educational qualifications by 19 May.
Subsequently, a door-to-door enumeration was carried out to cover the remaining population, and the data underwent validation by inviting objections.
While the opposition Congress criticised the government for the delay in conducting the survey, the BJP raised questions about the methodology employed.
BJP legislator Nauri Nayak contended that the government had not diligently conducted the survey, suggesting that a more thorough door-to-door approach would have generated accurate data.
He pointed out that the exercise largely relied on voluntary participation, where individuals had to visit survey centers with documents for identification, leading to the exclusion of many.
Senior Congress MLA Narasingha Mishra expressed skepticism, asserting that neither the Centre nor the state government prioritises the development of OBCs. Mishra claimed, "They are anti-OBC. Otherwise, the survey would have been promptly done."
Meanwhile, there is growing pressure on the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government to accept the census report. The Congress party is demanding a nationwide exercise to gather similar information.
However, the Lingayats/Veerashaivas and Vokkaligas, who are the dominant land-owning caste groups, are opposed to the report, claiming that their numbers are actually higher than shown in the leaked report.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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