Bihar: Caste Census Set To Begin On 7 January

Bihar: Caste Census Set To Begin On 7 January

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 29, 2022 06:20 PM +05:30 IST
Bihar: Caste Census Set To Begin On 7 JanuaryBihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Bihar government is set to start a caste census in the state from 7 January, reports say. The exercise which has already generated much controversy is expected to end by May.

The census will be conducted by the General Administration department, with the District Magistrate as the nodal head. It will be conducted in digital format.

The state has already allocated Rs 500 crore for the exercise and around 3.5 lakh government employees are being trained at the district level to carry out the exercise.

The census is to be conducted in two phases, with the first phase including mapping out of areas and identifying the number of families. In the second phase, which is to begin in February, surveys will be conducted on details of family members, annual income, caste, and other aspects.

The caste list will be provided by the district administration and persons will have to self-declare their caste from the list. In case their caste is not found in the government's list, they will have to present a caste certificate, or present themselves before the Block Development Officer (BDO) to clarify their caste.

The center and state have been at loggerheads over the issue in the last few months. However, while the central leadership has denied possibilities of including caste in the next census, state BJP unit has reluctantly agreed to it.

Questions are being raised on the constitutional and legal validity of the exercise, since census is a part of the union list under the seventh schedule of the Constitution.

While Maharashtra, Odisha and Chattisgarh are already in the process of conducting a caste-based census, Karnataka had conducted a similar exercise but the data was never made public by successive governments.

Moreover, the census is being seen as an exercise in reviving Mandal politics, ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls, by caste-based parties with fledgling political fortunes.

However, the resulting data might open up a Pandora's box, and show which communities have garnered the most benefits out of three decades of social engineering in the state.

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