The Registrar General of India (RGI) has stated that it does not have any thoughts or file notations related to the Central government’s announcement in 2018 to gather data on Other Backward Classes (OBC) as part of Census 2021. In response to an RTI request from The Hindu, the RGI stated that the Census does not gather data on castes, groups, or OBCs other than the declared Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced on August 31, 2018, that OBC data will be collected for the first time during the upcoming Census. “It is also anticipated to collect data on OBC for the first time,” according to the press release titled “Union Home Minister evaluates preparations for Census 2021.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the first phase of the 2021 Census has been postponed indefinitely. The House listing and Housing Census, which was to be undertaken in conjunction with the update of the National Population Register (NPR) from April 1, 2020, has been postponed indefinitely. The decennial Census is carried out by the RGI, which is under the administrative jurisdiction of the MHA.
In response to an RTI request for information about RGI’s deliberations prior to the announcement in 2018 to collect data on OBCs, the office said that “the information sought in the RTI application is not available with the undersigned.”
The reply added, “It may be informed that the Office of the RGI in MHA is conducting decennial population Census since 1951 in which it collects and publishes data on various socio-demographic profiles of the people of India including those of the notified Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) of all States and Union Territories. The data on the castes/communities/OBCs, other than the notified SCs and STs are not collected in Census.” It said the last Census was conducted in 2011.
On September 23, the Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court arguing that conducting a Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) was impractical, “administratively onerous, and cumbersome.”
The SECC, which was initially performed in 2011 and collected data from 130 million Indians, yielded 46 lakh different caste names, but the total number of castes at the national level according to the last caste census in 1931 was 4,147. The administration has refused to make even the raw caste data from the SECC-2011 public due to problems in the data collection. The SECC-2011 gathered information from all castes, not only OBCs.
Reservation in government jobs and education is based on various OBC lists at the state and federal levels. In Bihar, several political parties, including the ruling BJP’s ally, the JD(U), have called for an OBC census.