The last time a census of all castes was conducted was in 1931.
A day after releasing data from a controversial caste-based survey in the state, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called for an all-party meeting today to present the findings of the census report and deliberate on the next course of action.
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The Bihar government yesterday released data from the caste census that found that 36% of the state's 13.1 crore-strong population belongs to Extremely Backward Classes, 27.1% to Backward Classes, 19.7% to Scheduled Castes, and 1.7% to Scheduled Tribes. The general population accounts for 15.5%.
Yadavs, the OBC group to which Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav belongs, are the largest population group in Bihar, accounting for 14.27% of the total, according to the caste census survey.
Dalits, or Scheduled Castes, comprise 19.65% of Bihar's population, which also includes nearly 22 lakh (1.68%) people from Scheduled Tribes.
Chief Minister Kumar said that the findings of the survey will be shared with representatives of all nine state legislature parties that agreed to the survey today.
The Bihar Chief Minister declined to comment when asked by if the caste census could be seen as a revival of the Mandal Commission's recommendations, triggering demands for revised caste quotas proportional to population.
"It would not be proper for me to go into such details right now. Let me share the findings with all parties tomorrow. After that, our focus will be on making policies targeted at castes that may be deemed to be in need of greater assistance. I must add, the survey will benefit all castes, without exception," Mr Kumar said.
Mr Kumar expressed confidence that Bihar's caste survey will spur a nationwide census of all social groups. Echoing his sentiment, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said the survey sets the tone for "a nationwide caste census which will be undertaken when we form the next government at the Centre".
Hours after data from the survey was released, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the opposition of "trying to divide the country in the name of caste". The PM condemned any attempt to "divide people" on the basis of caste as a "sin".
"Out of 90 secretaries of the central government, only 3 are OBC, who handle only 5 per cent of India's budget. Therefore, it is important to know the caste statistics of India," said Rahul Gandhi, who announced last week that the Congress would conduct a caste census in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh if it wins the election.
The last time a census of all castes was conducted was in 1931. On June 2 last year, the Bihar cabinet approved a caste survey and allocated Rs 500 crore for the exercise.
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