34% of Bihar families live on Rs 200 or less a day: caste survey; Nitish for hike in SC, ST quotas
Patna, Nov 7 (PTI) More than a third of families in Bihar are making do with an income of Rs 200 or less a day, while the number of SC-ST families living on similar earnings is nearly 43 per cent, according to the Caste Survey report tabled in the state assembly on Tuesday.
Based on the survey findings, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also announced his intent to raise quotas for Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state, saying a legislation to this effect is likely to be brought in the ongoing assembly session.
The report and Kumar’s announcement came months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The survey report revealed that OBCs (27.13 per cent) and the extremely backward classes sub-group (36 per cent) accounted for a whopping 63 per cent of the state’s total of 13.07 crore, while SCs and STs together were slightly over 21 per cent.
According to the report tabled in the assembly by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, the state is home to about 2.97 crore families out of which more than 94 lakh (34.13 per cent) live on an income of Rs 6,000 or less a month.
Kumar said his government is planning to provide an assistance of Rs two lakh each to these 94 lakh families for taking up some form of economically productive work.
Besides, his government planned to give Rs one lakh to each family identified as having no house to live in for construction of habitats, the chief minister said.
“If we get the special category status (for Bihar), we will be able to achieve our goals in two to three years. Otherwise, it may take much longer”, said Kumar, who spoke for nearly 45 minutes.
He also hoped that the survey would compel the Centre to reconsider the request for a nationwide census, which he had made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago.
The percentage of households with similar earnings among the Scheduled tribe households (42.91 per cent) was almost the same as among scheduled caste families (42.78 per cent), according to the report.
Chaudhary termed the exercise as “historic” and vouched for the figures being “authentic”, denying allegations levelled by the opposition BJP that numbers had been “manipulated” to politically suit the ruling Mahagathbandhan coalition.
The chief minister said, “The quota for SCs and STs together stands at 17 per cent. It should be raised to 22 per cent. Likewise, the reservation for OBCs should also be hiked from the current 50 per cent to 65 per cent.” The Supreme Court has earlier capped the quota in jobs etc at 50 per cent.
“We will do the needful after due consultations. We intend to bring in the required legislation in the ongoing session,” Kumar said on the second day of the five-day-long winter session.
The preliminary findings had established that OBCs and EBCs constituted more than 60 per cent of the state’s total population while the upper castes accounted for about 10 per cent.
The report showed that more than 25 per cent of the upper castes earn Rs 6000 or less a month.
“We must remember that a rise in the population percentage of a caste does not amount to an achievement. Similarly, a fall in the percentage does not mean a loss,” said the minister, who also voiced displeasure over litigations trying to challenge the survey on various grounds, even though the Supreme Court had found the exercise to be “perfectly valid”.
The state has also improved its sex ratio from 918 to 953 women per 1,000 men, said the minister.
The report has also come out with several other important findings like more than 50 lakh people of Bihar are living outside the state in search of livelihood or better education opportunities.
The most well-off Hindu upper caste were the numerically minuscule Kayasthas as only 13.83 per cent of families from the largely urbanised community live on such an income.
The same ratio is surprisingly high for the Bhumihars (27.58), believed to be the biggest land-owning caste of Bihar, who dominated the state's politics until the Mandal wave of the 1990s threw up a new power structure.
The report revealed that despite their political ascendance, more than 35 per cent of Yadavs have a monthly income ceiling of Rs 6000.
Among the Kurmis, the caste to which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar belongs, nearly 30 per cent of people earn a similar amount.
The survey also took into account the caste divisions among Muslims, who together accounted for more than 17 per cent of the state’s population. It said that 17.61 per cent of the Sayyads, who claim descent from the family of the Prophet, earn Rs 6000 per month or less.
Backward caste politicians have long claimed that the population of castes they represented numbered far more than the conventional wisdom based on the 1931 census, which was the last time a caste headcount was conducted and released. PTI PKD NAC BDC NN
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