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Bihar Caste Survey: Unveiling the Caste Landscape

Recently, the Bihar government conducted a comprehensive survey to understand the caste composition within the state. This survey revealed some crucial findings that can significantly influence policy decisions and political strategies. Let's delve into the key takeaways:

1. Caste Diversity:

  • Forward Castes: Only 15.5% of Bihar's population falls under the so-called forward castes or General category.

  • SCs and STs: There are around 20% Scheduled Castes (SCs) and a mere 1.7% Scheduled Tribes (STs).

  • Minorities: Muslims make up 17.7% of the population, while other religious minorities have a minimal presence.

2. Political Motives:

  • The survey was proposed by the JD(U) for political rejuvenation.

  • The current Chief Minister's caste, Kurmis, constitutes less than 3% of the population. This survey aims to garner support from a broader spectrum of castes.

3. Social Justice Influence:

  • Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav, who initiated the survey, draw inspiration from Ram Manohar Lohia's principles of social justice through accurate caste representation.

4. Historical Caste Dynamics:

  • Historically, Bihar was dominated by forward castes like Bhumihars, Brahmins, Rajputs, and Lalas.

  • The late 70s witnessed a shift with the rise of backward caste leaders like Karpoori Thakur, who implemented reservation policies.

5. Lalu Yadav's Impact:

  • Lalu Prasad challenged the political dominance of upper castes, leading to a turbulent period of lawlessness and corruption in the 1990s.

6. Nitish Kumar's Strategy:

  • Nitish Kumar aimed to appeal to EBCs, Dalits, and upper castes by implementing reservation in local politics.

  • He also created a separate category, Mahadalits, within the Dalit community for targeted policies.

7. Mandal Commission Influence:

  • Mandal recommendations intensified caste consciousness among OBCs and rallied upper castes against reservations.

8. Policy Implications:

  • The caste survey provides precise data for the rationalization of policies, like seat reservations in Panchayats, leading to better governance.

9. Legal Challenges:

  • The survey faces legal challenges, with concerns about violating privacy and exceeding legislative competence.

10. Quota Ceiling Debate: - The survey may reopen the debate on the 50% reservation ceiling set by the Supreme Court, as it breaches this limit. 11. Mandal 2.0 Potential: - The survey results can fuel the demands of political parties and lead to targeted policies for their support base, akin to the Mandal Commission's impact. 12. Future Outlook: - The Bihar government is likely to use the survey data to advocate for "social justice" and "development with justice," sparking a national debate that no political party can ignore. In summary, the Bihar Caste Survey is not just a collection of statistics; it's a catalyst for change, influencing politics and policies while stirring up important discussions about caste dynamics and social justice.

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