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Census 2021 to Collect Data on OBCs, May Impact Reservation Debate

The last caste Census in the country was done in 1931 and all proponents of OBC quota have so far quoted the 1931 data seeking larger share in the reservation pie.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:September 1, 2018, 11:49 AM IST
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Census 2021 to Collect Data on OBCs, May Impact Reservation Debate
Representative image/Reuters

New Delhi: For the first time since Independence, India would know the exact population of Other Backward Castes in the country as the Home Ministry on Friday announced that Census 2021 will collect data on OBCs.

"It is envisaged to collect data on OBCs for the first time," an MHA spokesperson said. The announcement may have political ramifications ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The decision was made public after a review of the Census process by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State (Home) Kiren Rijiju, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Registrar General of India Sailesh and senior officers.

The last caste Census in the country was done in 1931 and all proponents of OBC quota have so far quoted the 1931 data seeking larger share in the reservation pie.

The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), a wing of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, had announced a sample survey report on the country's population in 2006 and suggested that the OBC population in the country is around 41 per cent of the total population. The NSSO had enumerated 79,306 households in rural areas and 45,374 in urban regions.

OBC leaders have argued in the past that 27 per cent reservation currently given to OBCs in education institutes and government jobs is inadequate compared to its share in population.

The Mandal Commission quoted figure of 52 per cent, calculated using the 1931 Census is more accurate as per the OBC leaders.

MHA officials said that the 2021 Census will give the more accurate assessment of the caste dynamics of India's population. "It will help the government plan and implement policies better for the upliftment of the backward sections of the society," an official said.

The aim is also to complete the census process 5 years before time. “It was emphasised that improvements in design and technological interventions be made so as to ensure that the Census data is finalized within 3 years after conducting of Census. At present it takes around 7 to 8 years to release the complete data," MHA said.

Officials said 25 lakh enumerators have been trained to carry out the census process with use of maps and geo-referencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration. But questions are being raised about how the enumerators will verify whether a respondent is giving his correct caste.

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| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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