The Bihar government on Monday released the findings of its caste census, revealing that the Other Backward Classes and the Extremely Backward Classes constitute over 63% of the state’s population, PTI reported.
Bihar’s total population stood at a little over 13.07 crore. Of this, the Extremely Backward Classes, at 36%, were the largest social segment followed by the Other Backward Classes at 27.13%, the data released by Development Commissioner Vivek Singh showed.
The population of the Scheduled Castes stood at 19.7% and the Scheduled Tribes at 1.7%. Bihar’s general population accounted for the remaining 15.5%.
The caste survey, which comprised 17-point socio-economic indicators, including caste, also showed that the Yadavs were the largest group in terms of population, accounting for 14.27% of the total.
While Hindus comprised nearly 82% of the state’s population, the Muslim population stood at 17.70%. Jains, Christians, Sikhs and those following other religions as well as non-believers together form less than 1% of the total population.
The government has clarified that the survey is just “compiled data and no analysis of it has been done yet”, according to The Hindu.
The state government had started the caste survey in January after the Union government said it will not undertake such an exercise for other than the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as part of the Census.
India had last conducted an exercise to count the population of all caste groups in 1931. In independent India, census reports have published data noting the population of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, but not other caste groups.
Bihar’s ruling Mahagathbandhan, mainly comprising the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, feels that a caste-based survey will help identify the true population of the state’s Other Backward Classes and other castes, helping pave the way for policies such as expanded quotas.
On August 1, the Patna High Court held that the exercise by the Bihar government in the state was legally valid. While the Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the High Court’s order, it has refused to stay the exercise.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday lauded the publication of the survey’s findings. “Caste-based census not only revealed the castes, but also gave information about the economic condition of everyone,” Kumar said on social media platform X. “On this basis, further action will be taken for the development and upliftment of all sections.”
The chief minister added that the government will discuss the survey at a meeting with all the nine political parties that have a presence in the state legislature.
Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said, “By collecting and publishing caste-based survey data in a short time, Bihar has once again become witness to a historic moment.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the state’s ruling coalition, claiming that the findings were released to spread communal disturbance.
“They [the state’s ruling alliance] should have given a report card of the work done by Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav, but instead they have issued this report of caste survey, which will do nothing except for creating an illusion amongst the public,” BJP leader Giriraj Singh told PTI.
State BJP president Samrat Choudhary said that his party had given its consent for the exercise and would assess the findings before making a statement, reported PTI.
“However, we wish the survey had studied the social and economic conditions of different castes and placed these on record,” Choudhary said. “We need to take into account the changed social and economic realities.”
Also read: Why Bihar is conducting a caste census