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Most States don't have firm OBC data

Most States don't have firm OBC data

Author: Rajeev Ranjan Roy
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 16, 2007.

Ministry dossier brings forth chinks

The Centre has no option but to approach the Supreme Court for vacating stay on the quota for other backward classes (OBCs) without data on their population. Social Justice and Empowerment (SJ&E) Ministry's dossier on the OBC population points out that most of the States do not have any authentic data to justify the quantum of 27 per cent quota in the elite academic institutions.

The Ministry dossier reveals that even Tamil Nadu does not have any such data, though the State has quota for the so-called OBCs up to 69 per cent in the Government jobs and academic institutions. The only three States having furnished data on the OBC population to the Ministry are Bihar, Goa and Tripura. Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have given OBC figures based on 1931 census.

Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Lakshadweep have stated that there is no OBC population there, while Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal have submitted the district-wise details of population without specifying the number of OBCs.

"This is what the Ministry has been able to collect on the OBC population in the country. Most of the States do not have any such authentic data available," a source in SJ&E Ministry said. "The Centre will have to depend upon the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO)'s latest estimation of OBC population of 41.1 per cent," he added.

The Ministry's dossier punctures all claims of the Government about OBC population when an affidavit is going to be filed before the SC on Monday for the vacation of stay on quota. While staying the quota recently, the apex court had explicitly asked the Centre about the basis for earmarking 27 per cent quota for OBCs. "It remains to be seen how the Centre convinces the court in this regard," the source said.

Ministry source said that the West Bengal Government has projected the OBC population at around 15 per cent. The figure is based on the projection of the Cultural Research Institute and the census of 1931. The Government of Bihar has sent the district-wise population of OBCs, as notified in the State Gazette in September 1994.

Chhattisgarh Government has quoted the projected figure of 42.78 per cent based on the census 1931 and 2001. This figure is very close to that of the NSSO survey for 2004-05 wherein OBC population is estimated to be 41.9 per cent. Tripura, quoting a State Government survey conducted in 1995-96, Department of SCs and OBCs, has estimated the OBC population at 24 per cent.

Ministry source revealed that Rajasthan admitted to have no data on OBCs, while Punjab has the projected figure of 69 per cent. The other States having conveyed to the Ministry about the non-availability of OBC data include Delhi, Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Kerala and Manipur.

"Andhra Pradesh has given the caste-wise population, while the Government of Jharkhand has communicated that the State Backward Classes Commission is in the process of getting the details. Orissa has suggested the Centre to get the OBC survey conducted by some reputed organisations. The Maharashtra Government is working on proposals to conduct the survey," source revealed.

The Registrar General of India (RGI) has already informed the Ministry about the difficulties in conducting the OBC census. From the neutrality of enumerators to the complexity of OBC castes list, the RGI has cited several hindrances in conducting caste-based survey. The RGI has stated several 'difficulties' in undertaking such a survey.

It has referred to the difficulty in classifying and enumerating the different castes identified as OBCs. "The total number of SCs and STs in India was 1885. Despite that, at the Census 2001 more than 18,748 entries were returned. Many of these were surnames, clan names, even names of the non-SC/ST communities. Their classification and groupism under the appropriate SC/ST category was a formidable task," the RGI has said.

Since common surnames and sub-castes and clans, and 'inadequate knowledge' on such sub-castes too dominate the OBCs, the RGI has stated that all this would make the task difficult to meaningfully tabulate and classify the OBC castes. "The phonetic similarity in the name of castes may lead to their misclassification," the RGI has added.

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