New Delhi: Odisha on Monday (May 1) began its first ever survey of the social and educational condition of backward caste communities in the state. The survey, according to Hindustan Times, includes questions on the kind of houses they live in, their livelihoods, access to infrastructure, hospitals, schools, markets, colleges, etc.
Odisha is now the second state – after Bihar, which has initiated a caste census exercise in January – to do a survey of this kind. The Union government has been facing increasing demands to conduct a nationwide caste census, but has not reacted favourably to the proposal.
The survey, being conducted by the Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes, will conclude on May 27, according to The Times of India. IANS reported that residents of Odisha have the option of completing the survey either online or offline.
State SC, ST development, minorities and backward classes welfare minister Jagannath Sarka told IANS that the survey is being carried out to better plan schemes and programmes for the backward classes. “Our chief minister [Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal] never played caste politics. The survey would help us plan more effectively for the OBC population.”
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in Odisha have opposed the move, saying it is an attempt to woo OBC voters before the elections. Odisha will see assembly elections in 2024 alongside the Lok Sabha elections.
However, at the national level, the Congress has recently been demanding that a caste census be conducted.
India’s last Census was in the year 2011. The Census, scheduled for 2021, had initially been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.