Halfway through the much-anticipated Caste-Based Survey (CBS) currently under way in Bihar, the form for its next and most crucial phase where information on people’s caste and socio-economic status will be collected, is still being finalised, officials confirmed to The Hindu.
The CBS, which began on January 7, is being carried out in two stages. The first phase was a household counting exercise, which has now been completed with district administrations expected to send in their final reports by the end of January.
During the second stage, which is set to begin from April 1, information on people’s caste and their socio-economic conditions will be collected. However, the form for the purpose has not been finalised, senior officials in the State government said.
An official of the General Administration Department (GAD), the nodal department for the survey, said, “There is a drop-down box, which will have a list of about 200-300 castes and the enumerators will have to just choose from one of them after collecting the information from the concerned citizen. Because of this we will be able to avoid multiplicity of the number of castes due to variations in spelling.”
While the second stage will mandatorily require the head of each family to vouch for the information on their caste they have provided, each enumerator will also be accompanied by an assistant – who will in most cases be the local Anganwadi worker or social worker aware of caste locations of village residents. “This is an additional layer of confirmation for us,” an official explained.
Further, the second phase is expected to collect “unprecedentedly” detailed information such as landholding, property ownership, education, employment, mobile and internet usage and income, among other things, sources said, adding the complete form was “still being finalised” as some columns “are still being added and deleted”.
Officials added that the form will be ready by the last week of February, just in time for enumerators to begin their “elaborate training programme” on how to hit the ground running with it. There will also be a hard copy form with enumerators as a contingency, in case the mobile app, using which the phase will be carried out, malfunctions or the software glitches, they added.
Already having completed the monumental household survey of counting roughly 2.5 crore homes across 38 districts of Bihar in a matter of 14 days, statisticians in district administrations all over the State have started expressing concerns about when the form for the second stage will be finalised.
“We have not yet received any news of the form for the next phase of the survey,” a senior official in the Saharsa district administration said, while another official in the Vaishali district added that they will needed time to go through the form and familiarise themselves with it once it arrives.
“In our district alone, we have over 8,000 enumerators who need to be briefed on the form, taught how to troubleshoot and categorise information they are collecting,” the official in Vaishali district said.
But as the GAD finalises the form for the second stage, district officials have their task cut out for them. Once all districts send in their final reports from the first phase of the survey, statisticians in each will have to start entering the data collected into a web portal for easy analysis.
The first stage required enumerators to fill out a hard copy form “Sankshipt Makan Soochi”, which has three parts. Parts one and two of this form collected information on residential buildings in each district – down to the block/panchayat level – the number of families living in each such building, the head of each family, and the number of members in each family. Part three of the form collected similar information about homeless families, where they were found to be living at the time and whether they had been living there for at least six months.
A senior State government official said that the data from the entire survey should be ready by the end of May this year.