OBC data to be collected for the first time in Independent India: Home ministry

The central government is all set to collect data on other backward classes in the 2021 census for the first time since 1931. It is believed that this data will aid the central government in deciding the need and the quantum of providing reservations to various Backward classes, which till date are defined as a group rather than separate communities.

Mandal commission recommended such move and the commission’s recommendations were accepted by the V.P.Singh government. The 27% reservation was implemented by the Narshima Rao government later. The Supreme Court had earlier inquired about the scientific basis of reserving 27% of the reservations to the OBC. This data can be useful in answering that very question.

The government already possesses raw data on castes collected through the Social Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011. A former Registrar-General of India officer told a news outlet on conditions of anonymity that all citizens were covered by declared caste names in the SECC and all that was required was to collate the information to get a fair idea on different aspects of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and OBCs.

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The issue with the current disposition is one of the varied lists of castes in different states. Each state has their own list, thus it has been noticed that it is very much of a possibility that a person belonging in one state’s OBC list might not be able to avail the benefits of it in another state. The government had earlier formed a five-member commission to examine the issues of the central OBC list and the sub-categorisation of it.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh recently chaired a review meeting to discuss the road ahead for undertaking Census 2021. According to the official statement from the Home ministry on Friday, the meeting envisaged collecting data on OBC for the first time in Independent India. The Home Minister also emphasised improvements made on technological and design in the Census, which he believes will aid the target of finalising the data within 3 years.

The Centre released the socio-economic profile generated through SECC in 2015, but the data on caste percentage was held back despite the opposition’s demand to make it public.

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