Odisha SEBC: Ahead of the next Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the Odisha cabinet on Saturday, January 21, approved the inclusion of 22 backward castes, communities in the SEBC list of socially and educationally backward classes . This is a move by the Patnaik government that could have significant political implications.
According to the news of Indian Express, after the cabinet’s decision on this matter, Development Commissioner PK Jina said that this decision will help people of 22 castes to avail all social welfare and their benefits. This will lead to their inclusive development and bring them into the mainstream of development.
There was a demand for this in Odisha for a long time. The Odisha State Backward Classes Commission (OSCBC) had recommended the inclusion of 22 castes in the SEBC list to the Naveen Patnaik government in October last year.
These castes have been included
The 22 castes that have been included in the SEBC list include Carpenter, Bindani, Bindani, Baraji, Baroi, Shankhua Tanti, Gola Tanti, Lajya Nivaran, Hansi Tanti, Kapadia, Gandhamali, Thanapati, Pandara Mali, Paniyar Mali, Pandariya, Odi-Khandayat, Bayalisha, Oda, Oda-Paika, Oda-Pako, Haldia-Teli and Kalandi are included. A senior government official says that since the state has never conducted a caste census, it is difficult to quantify these 22 castes and communities, but they form a significant part of the state’s population.
Patnaik stresses on caste-based census
Even though elections in Odisha are not fought on the basis of caste like in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had pushed for a caste-based census in the country during his tenure. Center was requested to include cast details in the upcoming census. Along with this, he also started the process of surveying the social and educational status of people belonging to backward classes through OSCBC. However, the process was halted following the outbreak of Covid-19.
In the month of December, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai had informed the Lok Sabha that Maharashtra, Odisha and Bihar and some organizations have requested the central government to include caste details in the upcoming census.
Not an official SEBC census
Although no official census has been conducted to count the number of SEBCs, according to unconfirmed sources, the backward classes in Odisha constitute about 54% of the state’s population. About 209 communities have been identified as backward classes in Odisha. While reacting to the cabinet decision, BJP’s OBC cell leader Surath Biswal said, ‘These 22 castes/communities are included in the OBC list of the Central Government since 1993-94. Why did the state government deprive them of their rights by not listing them as SEBC?