Over 42% SC, ST Families Poor, Says Bihar Caste Survey

New Delhi:

The second tranche of data from the Bihar government’s caste-based survey – and the full report on the economic condition of 215 Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and Extremely Backward Classes – was tabled in the Assembly this afternoon.

According to the report, more than 42 per cent of families from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are poor, as are over 33 per cent of those from Backward and Extremely Backward Classes.

Also, of those surveyed, less than six per cent of Scheduled Castes had finished their schooling; i.e., Class 11 and Class 12, while that number rises marginally to nine per cent across the state.

The report comes amid allegations by Union Home Minister Amit Shah the Bihar government had inflated the population of the Yadav and Muslim communities, thereby affecting EBCs’ rights. A furious Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav rubbished the claim. “Are Yadavs not backward? On what basis are they saying ‘this has been increased or decreased’? We have scientific data to support it.”

READ |Bihar Caste Survey: 27% Backward Classes, 36% Extremely Backward Classes

The first set of data was released last month and said over 60 per cent of Bihar hails from Backward or Extremely Backward Classes, and over 20 per cent come from Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes.

Economic Data

The overall data from the Bihar government’s report is worrying.

It states that 34.13 per cent of all families in the state earn up to a paltry Rs 6,000 per month and 29.61 per cent survive on Rs 10,000 or less. It also states that nearly 28 per cent live on income between Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000, and only less than four per cent earn over Rs 50,000 per month.

The report paints a grim picture – particularly in a state where those from marginalised communities and backward classes constitute over 80 per cent of a population of more than 13.1 crore.

Overall, 42.93 per cent of families from Scheduled Castes and 42.70 per cent from Scheduled Tribes have been listed as poverty-stricken. Among Backward and Extremely Backward Classes, this number is 33.16 per cent and 33.58 per cent. Among other castes, 23.72 per cent of all families are poor.

READ | Newsbust India Explainer: With Eye On Polls, Breaking Down Bihar’s Caste Survey

Only 25.09 per cent of General Category families are listed as poor. Within this, 25.32 per cent of Bhumihars, 25.3 per cent of Brahmins, and 24.89 per cent of Rajputs are listed as poor. Brahmins and Rajputs account for 7.11 per cent of Bihar’s population. The Bhumihars are 2.86 per cent.

Among Backward Classes, 35.87 per cent of Yadavs – Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav belongs to this community – are poor, as are 34.32 per cent of Kushwahas and 29.9 per cent of Kurmis.

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The Yadavs constitute 14.26 per cent of the population and they are the largest OBC sub-group, while the other account for a little over eight per cent of the total.

On average, over 30 per cent of EBC families are poor. It is 29.87 per cent among Telis, rising to 32.99 for Kanus, 34.08 for Chandravanshis, 34.75 for Dhanuks and 35.88 for Noniyas.

Literacy In Bihar

The overall literacy rate in the state is 79.7 per cent.

Only 22.67 per cent of respondents had studied till Class 5, but this increases to 24.31 per cent for people from Scheduled Castes and 24.65 per cent for those from Extremely Backward Classes.

Among the General Category this is just 17.45 per cent.

Only 5.76 per cent of those surveyed from Scheduled Castes had completed schooling; i.e., Class 11 and 12. This improved marginally to nine per cent for all respondents.

Demands for a nation-wide caste census have gathered steam since Bihar’s August survey, with the issue becoming a political hot potato in the run-up to elections in five states – Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Mizoram – this month and the 2024 Lok Sabha poll.

The BJP – at the centre – has, in the past, been reluctant to back this demand, but Union Home Minister Amit Shah indicated an about-face in that policy this week. He said his party had never really opposed the exercise but would only carry out a survey after due diligence.

READ | Amid Opposition’s Caste Census Push, Amit Shah Says BJP Never Opposed Idea

After the release of the first tranche of Bihar data, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in an event in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, hit out at those “trying to divide the country in the name of caste”.

The Congress has been clear on its position; it will hold a survey in states it wins in this month’s polls and Rahul Gandhi said it will also be held at a national level should the party win next year.

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With input from agencies

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