Bihar caste survey: Govt mulls mop-up round for those left out - Hindustan Times
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Bihar caste survey: Govt mulls mop-up round for those left out

By, Patna
Aug 12, 2023 09:48 PM IST

Interestingly, all 38 district magistrates (DMs), who are also the principal census officers, have already given written declaration to the general administration department (GAD), the government’s nodal agency, that the second phase of the survey for filling up pro forma on the 17-point socio-economic indicators, including caste, has been completed in their respective districts.

The Bihar government is considering a mop-up round for those left behind by the enumerators during the caste-based survey, which was fast-forwarded amid a slew of court cases, said a senior official aware of the matter.

An enumerator collects information from residents as part of the caste-based survey in Patna. (HT FILE)
An enumerator collects information from residents as part of the caste-based survey in Patna. (HT FILE)

Interestingly, all 38 district magistrates (DMs), who are also the principal census officers, have already given written declaration to the general administration department (GAD), the government’s nodal agency, that the second phase of the survey for filling up pro forma on the 17-point socio-economic indicators, including caste, has been completed in their respective districts.

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The DMs gave this declaration on August 5, two days before the Supreme Court was to take up the plea challenging the Patna high court order of August 1, which had upheld the survey.

The HC, in its interim order on May 4, had stayed the survey, the month-long second phase of which was launched on April 15.

The first phase to mark houses and note the name of family members and their heads was undertaken between January 7 and 21 this year.

“After receiving complaints of people having been left out, we raised the matter at the highest level and suggested opening a help desk or holding a short duration special camp at the district level for those left out, and willing to enrol themselves,” said a senior officer of the GAD, requesting anonymity.

“The decision on any such activity has to be taken at the highest political level,” he added. Chief minister Nitish Kumar holds the GAD portfolio.

People cry foul

Public complaints have been pouring in after all DMs in the state gave certificates of 100% coverage of the target population in the second phase, as against those listed in the first phase of the survey.

In Patna, a majority of residents at Jyoti Puram Society, which has five multi-storied blocks having over 100 residential flats at Jagdeo Path on Bailey Road, claimed that no enumerator visited their houses during the second phase after having visited them in the first.

“Barely 20-25 out of the 100-plus residential flats have been covered in our residential society during the second phase of the survey, though 100% households were marked in the first phase,” said Amarendra Kumar, a resident of the Jyoti Puram Society who works in LIC.

Dr Nikhil and Shankar Kumar, residents of the same society, also claimed having been left out.

Navin Kumar, a businessman, whose house is located at Jagdeo Path, also claimed no enumerator visited him in the second phase after enrolling him in the first.

Naresh Aggarwal, a businessman and resident of Chudi Market in Patna’s Nala Road had a similar story. “One enumerator came in January, but did not note down name or even mark any of the five houses within our boundary. None have visited us in the second phase,” said Aggarwal.

Gaurav Sharma, a teacher at a private school in Patna, and a resident of Shivam Enclave, Kusumpuram Colony on Gola Road, also claimed no enumerator had visited him during the second phase after enrolling him in the first.

Raman Kumar and Rashmi Kumar, residents of 702, Maa Bhagwati Apartment on Patna’s Boring Road were among the many who claimed that they had been left out in the first and second phase of the survey.

Raman Kumar, who superannuated from a leading media house, claimed that the enumerators were selective. “Though the enumerator visited a few flats in our seven-storied apartment during the first phase, they were selective, and did not visit us then. Our whole apartment has been left out in the second phase,” said Kumar.

A retired government official and resident of the Deoki Nandan Apartment in Patna’s Magistrate Colony, however, was lucky to have been counted in the second phase after being left out in the first.

Govt’s defence

Senior officials in the GAD accepted that some people may have been left out in the survey, but claimed their percentage would be negligible.

“We have been able to list details of over 13 crore people against our estimate of 12.70 crore for the survey. When the achievement of census, legislated by an Act of parliament and mandatory for people to participate, cannot be 100%, one should not expect 100% coverage in a survey, which is a sub-set of census and optional for the people to participate,” said another officer, who did not wish to be named.

He said there could only be two categories of people who were left out.

“The first category will comprise residents whose accredited house listing (AHL) was done in the first phase, but they were not present during the second phase of the survey. The second category of people will be those who were not here during the first phase, and their AHL was not done. Many such people would have been completely left out of the survey,” the officer quoted above said.

Another reason, he said, could be superannuation of enumerators, most being government school teachers and employees of the rural development, urban local body and social welfare departments, between January and July.

“Many enumerators initiated the survey work in a particular area in January, but subsequently retired by the time the second phase began. Their replacements may not have been familiar with the area, thus, leaving out many households in the second phase,” the officer said.

The government has asked districts to complete by Sunday the exercise of digitally recording the data collected on forms on the BIJAGA app, intended for caste-based surveys, as it enables real-time data collection, eliminating the need for paper-based surveys and manual data entry.

To drive the digital part of the survey, Bihar has hired the services of Trigyn Technologies, which developed the CoWIN platform to organise and manage the vaccination programme for almost 1.4 billion Indian citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once the digital recording of data is completed, the government is likely to hold special camps for those inadvertently left out of the survey, the officer said. “Right now we are collating the data of the survey. The interpretation of the data, analysis of the findings, will be decided later.”

The 17 socioeconomic criteria of the survey range from ascertaining employment, education, migrant and marital status, ownership of computer/laptop, motor vehicle, monthly income from all sources, land holding and property ownership, besides condition of residence (pucca/thatched house, hutment or shelterless) and to know one’s caste among the 214 pre-registered castes that have been allotted individual codes.

In the list of 203 notified castes in Bihar, there are seven forward castes — four among Hindus, including Rajput, Kayastha, Brahmin and Bhumihar, and three among Muslims, including Sheikh, Pathan and Syed. The remaining 196 castes come under the reserved category. The extremely backward classes (EBC) make for bulk of the 112 caste groups, the backward classes (BC) 30, Scheduled Tribe (ST) 32 and the Scheduled Castes (SC) 22, said officials familiar with the classification of castes in the state.

In addition to the 203 notified castes, there are 11 castes, which different district magistrates have reported to exist in their respective districts to the GAD. The state government, however, has not notified the 11 castes identified by DMs either by an Act or an executive order, but they have been allotted individual codes for the purpose of caste-based survey.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Ruchir writes on health, aviation, power and myriad other issues. An ex-TOI, he has worked both on Desk and in reporting. He over 25 years of broadcast and print journalism experience in Assam, Jharkhand & Bihar.

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