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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Odisha becomes fourth state to complete survey of Other Backward Classes population

Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes completes survey, which records educational, occupational and household data of OBC families

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 10.07.23, 05:45 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File photo

Odisha has become the fourth state to complete a survey of its Other Backward Classes population, amid complaints that most of the migrant OBC workers living in other states have been left out.

The Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes this week completed the survey, which recorded educational, occupational and household data of OBC families.

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One of the outcomes of such surveys is that they reveal the population share of OBCs, allowing any necessary tweaks to the volumes of job and educational reservations that are currently based on the last nationwide caste survey done in the 1930s.

India’s population censuses have since then enumerated only the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes specifically but not OBCs.

Amid a demand for a caste census, partly to see whether the quota volumes need a revision, the Centre carried out a nationwide Socio-Economic and Caste Census in 2011-12 but the Narendra Modi government has so far not published the caste data it threw up.

In recent years, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana conducted their own OBC surveys. The Supreme Court has found fault with the Maharashtra survey and restrained the state from implementing reservations in local body elections based on it.

Odisha and some other states embarked on their own OBC surveys following a Supreme Court judgment of December 2021.

The apex court had directed Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, whose policy of introducing OBC reservation in local body elections had been challenged, to establish a dedicated commission each for an “empirical inquiry” into the matter.

Bihar too had nearly completed a "caste survey", which counted the state’s entire population. Patna High Court stayed it on May 4 saying it was a “caste census” in another garb and that the Centre alone had the power to conduct censuses.

The Odisha survey, which began on May 1, was initially carried out at specific centres by Anganwadi workers and teachers from schools and Anganwadi centres. The enumerators were later asked to make door-to-door visits to verify whether all the households had taken part. This ended on June 24.

The commission later extended the exercise by another two weeks, allowing OBCs whom the survey had left out to submit data online. However, there was no attempt to spread awareness about this among migrant Odisha workers, state Samajwadi Party president Rabi Behera alleged.

He said the house-to-house verification was not done sincerely, either.

Bhagirathi Behera from Khandiakuda village in Puri district has for the past 35 years been living with his family in Surat, where he is a community leader among Odia migrant labourers. He is an OBC but has not participated in the survey.

“You are the first to tell me about the survey. A few lakh Odias work in Surat. Neither the commission nor the Odisha government has made any effort to sensitise us to take part in the survey,” Bhagirathi said.

Sushil Rout, a migrant worker here from Kendrapara district, said he did not think that any Delhi-based OBC migrant worker from Odisha knew about the survey.

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