As Bihar kicked off its much anticipated caste-based headcount on Saturday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar reiterated that the purpose of the exercise is to get a clear estimate of the financial situation of all communities, to aid in developmental work.
Talking to NDTV, he said, "We have demanded since the beginning that caste-based census should be conducted across the country so that there's information about the status of people from different castes to work on their upliftment".
"After the 2011 Census, the government conducted a caste-based count, but it wasn't done properly and wasn't released. We asked them to do it properly again, but they didn't agree," he added.
Mr Kumar said all parties in Bihar sat together and decided this. "We went to meet the Prime Minister, and all of us presented our views. The Centre said it won't do a caste-based census, and if a state wants to do it, it's free to. States can't conduct a census, so we are doing a 'Jaati Aadharit Ganana' (caste-based headcount)," he added.
On the procedure, and arrangements, Nitish Kumar said all officials involved in the mammoth exercise were properly trained, and a good number of people have been brought in for it.
"We have asked all officials that every single person should be counted properly. Some people are living in cities, some others out of state, all the information should be properly recorded," he said.
The Chief Minister further stressed that the financial status of every family, be it from any caste or community, will also be recorded.
"We want to do this so that there's a proper estimate of the financial condition of families from all communities, which will help in deciding what can be done for them, and their localities," Mr Kumar said.
The Bihar Chief Minister said the state government's intention is clear -- it wants a full picture of the financial situation of every individual so that it can more effectively target development work, and also give the Centre proper data on the state for its "sabka sath, sabka vikas (everyone's support, everyone's development)" vision. "If there's poverty in a state, you will eradicate it, right?" he added.
"The full report will give us a clearer picture, which we will publish, circulate, and also send to the Centre. If they think this is good for the entire country, then they will do it. Otherwise, we will at least give them a clear picture of poverty in our state," he said.