Survey of Backward Classes: Odisha’s Greatest Tribute to Gandhiji

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Bhubaneswar: The unanimous passing of the resolution brought by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the Odisha Assembly regarding social and educational enumeration of the Backward Classes in the state is a historic decision that is going to change the development paradigm in the state. It can be said as the greatest tribute to Gandhian philosophy of service to Backward classes. In his speech during the passing of the resolution in the assembly, Naveen said the survey of the Backward Classes will be a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals of empowerment of the vulnerable sections of the society.

The step is in the right direction at the right time as India is going to have its census operations next year. The last enumeration on the status of backward classes was done in the early 1930’s by the British Government and thereafter no detailed survey was made regarding this. About nine decades have passed and the Indian society has undergone tremendous change. Odisha particularly has experienced a total transformation in the last 90 years. While the population dynamics have changed, the socio economic situation has undergone significant change. While the literacy levels during the 1930’s was less than 5 percent in the state, it is now having literacy rate of more than 70 percent. The urban rural dynamics and the economic status have changed.

The data collected then has become obsolete and new data is needed to devise development planning. While the center has remained non committal on the issue, Naveen has taken the initiative for the first time in Indian history.

Some of the so called saviors of the backward classes in the form of national and regional political parties have always tried to exploit the issue for political gains and pragmatically did not take any initiative to undertake any effort in this regard. But, Odisha’s decision is going to be a turning point in the development of the backward classes not only in the state but also will inspire others to follow.

After the center’s tepid response to Odisha’s demands for simultaneous SECC along with the general Census 2021, the state government moved the resolution to do the same on its own. And after 90 years, an exhaustive survey will be carried out by the state OBC Commission.

While passing the resolution in the Assembly, Naveen said “Formation of Odisha on a linguistic identity served as a model for the states of post independent India. Since then, our state has navigated its path of growth, keeping inclusiveness as its guiding principle. To further accelerate this inclusive growth, it is important to have reliable data about the backward classes of the state,”.

According to social scientists, Naveen’s decision will herald a new development model in the state that will include exhaustive interpretation of the social demographics. With the state in a higher growth trajectory, it is imperative that the updated data is used in devising the policies.

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