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Bihar Caste Survey: Analysing the Larger Patterns in the Released Data

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

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Bihar became the first state in the history of independent India to successfully conduct a caste survey and publish its report after the 1931 caste census that was undertaken under the colonial government. The first round of caste survey data counts the total number of all jatis in Bihar. The second round of data released the socio-economic status of all jatis of Bihar.

This article is the first part of a series of five articles on Bihar’s recently released caste survey report. The aim is to decode and simplify the raw data, which does not speak for itself.

Thus, the article draws larger patterns so that the status of different caste groups can be comprehensively understood and presented.

In this article, we focus on the share of jobs amongst different social groups. We do this at two levels: governmental categories of General, OBC, EBC, SC, and ST, and two at the level of specific jatis.
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Government Jobs and Private Jobs in Organised Sector

The key contestations of the politics of reservation revolve around adequate and equal representation in the public and political institutions. Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government has emerged as one of the most important job producers in Bihar.

Thus, government jobs carry a status of material and economic well-being. As per the caste survey report, a total of 1.57% (20,49,370) of Bihar’s population out of 13,07,25,310 are engaged in government jobs. 1.22% (15,97,680) of individuals are working in private jobs in the organised sector. This section will analyse the different caste group’s share in government jobs and private jobs in the organised sector.

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

Table 1. 

(Data: Bihar Caste Survey 2023)

The general population consists of 15.5224% of the total population of Bihar, while its share in government jobs stands at 31.3%.

27.12886% of the population are Other Backward class, and its jobs share in the government sector is 30.4%. While EBC counts at 36.0148% of the population, its job share is only 22.6%. The scheduled caste population in Bihar is 19.6518% of the population, and its job share is 14.2% of all government jobs. 1.6824% of the population of Bihar is a Scheduled Tribe, while only 1.5% of government jobs are represented by them.

The data tells us about the government jobs where reservation policies of 12% for OBC, 18% for EBC, 16% for SC, and 1% for ST are available. As per the data, it can be said that the people from the marginalised communities took government jobs not only in their quota but also qualified through the open category. The entry of marginalised sections and their increasing share in government jobs shows us the benefits of the democratisation of education.

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

Table 2. 

(Data: Bihar Caste Survey 2023)

Table 2 shows us that the General category again tops the share in private jobs of the organised sector. In comparison, OBC and EBC are approximately at half of the general category share. Scheduled castes occupy only 8.2% of private jobs in the organised sector, which is highly disproportionate to their population. The same is true with Scheduled Tribe. Its share is only 0.9%.

To get private jobs, people always need social and cultural capital, which the marginalised section always lacks. It is evident in Table 2 that EBC, SC, and ST are highly under-represented because of the no-reservation policy in private jobs. Now we can understand the rationalisation behind the demand for reservations in the private sector.

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Share of Jobs Among Upper Castes and OBCs

Table 3 presents us the share of government and private jobs in the organised sector among the general category.

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

Table 3. 

(Data: Bihar Caste Survey 2023)

The general category consists of Hindu and Muslim upper castes both. Kayasth consists of 3.907 per cent of the total general population, but 8.8% of jobs in both the government and private jobs in the organised sectors are occupied by them. 23.77 per cent of the general category population is Brahmin, and their job share stands at 28.9 per cent. Rajputs are 22.47 per cent of the general population, and their job share is 26.4 per cent. The population of Bhumihar in the general population is 18.65 per cent, while they have occupied 25.9 per cent job share among their category. Sheikh population consists of 24.84 per cent of the general category population, but the data shows that only 6.9 per cent of jobs are represented by them. Saiyyad is 1.481 per cent of the population and shares 1.3 per cent of jobs. 4.906 per cent of the population is Pathan, but only 1.9 per cent of jobs are represented by them.

The table shows the high disparity between Hindu upper castes and Muslim upper castes. 68.76 per cent of Hindu upper castes out of the total population of the general category occupied 90 per cent of jobs in these two sectors. 31.23 per cent of the population of the general category consists of Muslim upper castes, but they have only a 10 per cent (approx) share in jobs. Even among Muslims, Sheikhs are highly underrepresented in these two sectors of jobs in Bihar. The high disparity between Hindu upper castes and Muslim upper castes can be mitigated by the rational subcategorisation of the newly created EWS category.

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Table 4 consists of the representation of 4 major OBC caste groups. OBC list includes a total of 30 jatis. A total of 1021165 jobs are represented by OBC in the government and private organised sector. Out of 1021165 jobs, 44.1% are shared by Yadav, 18.8% by Kurmi, 17.4% by Koeri and 11.1% by Baniya. Only four caste groups have captured 91.4 % of jobs in the OBC category.

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

Table 4.

(Data: Bihar Caste Survey 2023)

However, when we compare it with the Yadav population, which also stands at 52.58% of the total population of the OBC category. While Koeri’s population stands at 15.52%, Kurmi’s population is 10.61%, and Baniya consists of 8.53% of the OBC population. These four caste groups are 87.26% of the OBC population, which shares 91.4% of jobs in these two sectors. The political narrative of Yadav and Kurmi stealing all the benefits of OBCs does not seem to be true in the distribution of jobs in these two sectors.

The EBC category has a total of 112 jatis in Bihar. Teli, Kanu, Dhanuk, Chandravanshi, Nai, and Momin are 38.73% of the EBC population and share around half (49.9%) of the government and private jobs in the organised sector.

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

Table 5.

(Data: Bihar Caste Survey 2023)

Teli is 7.81%, Kanu is 6.14%, Dhanuk is 5.94%, Chandravasnhi is 4.57%, Nai is 4.42%, and Momin is 9.84% of the total EBC population. Their share in jobs is 11.1%, 7.6%, 6.9%, 7.8%, 5.9%, and 10.6%, respectively. While Mallah, a very highly politically mobilised and assertive group, has  7.24% (34,10,093) of the population of the EBC category. However, Mallah has only 14,100 (3.05%) jobs in the government sector and 13,068 (3.77%) jobs in the private organised sector, which is only 3.36% of the total jobs shared by the EBC category. 

Nitish Kumar introduced the EBC quota within the OBC category in 2006 following the path of veteran socialist leader Karpoori Thakur. The subcategorisation of OBC seems very justified and pivotal in equalising the distribution of jobs. However, special attention needs to be paid to communities like Mallah etc.

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Among Jatis of Scheduled Castes

Table 6 shows us the job share among jatis of Scheduled castes in government and private jobs in the organised sector. Scheduled caste lists of Bihar consist of 22 jatis.  A total of 4,21,394 jobs are represented by the SC category in government and private jobs in the organised sector. Out of 4,21,394 jobs,  Dusadh shares 32.7%, Mochi/Ravidas community represents 29.6%, Pasi has 7.9%, and Rajak shares 10.1% of the total jobs in the Scheduled caste category.

Due to inadequate investment in the private sector, the government is an important job producer in Bihar.

Table 6. 

(Data: Bihar Caste Survey 2023)

These four caste groups are only 63.04% of the total SC population, which occupied a total of 80.3% of jobs in their category. Musahar caste, which is 15.70% of the total population of SC, shares only 14,518 jobs (3.44%) in both these sectors. The data on the distribution of jobs among the Scheduled castes shows a very high disparity. As of now, the ongoing demand for subcategorisation of the SC category seems to be justified. 

The caste survey report of Bihar is historic in itself. However, it needs some revision and the addition of data on some important categories. The data on government jobs and private jobs in the organised sector do not mention the different caste groups engaged in Group A, B, C, and D services.

Several scholars suggest that the most marginalised people are employed at the level of Group D services. If this report could have released the data through this category, it would have been more useful in drafting policies of reservation and other welfare measures. By not disaggregating the data at the higher echelons of power level, the survey deprives us of appreciating the nature of social transformation that one can see while taking the overall numbers. The overall number might mislead us and lead to exaggerate the improved condition of many backward castes. For example, their higher share of the jobs.  

[Kishan Kumar (kishanncps@gmail.com) is a research associate at Ashoka University, Haryana. Nitish Kumar (kumar30niti@gmail.com) is a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Political Studies, JNU. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.]

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Topics:  Bihar   Caste Census 

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