What's the caste composition of India? The recent controversy over reservation has once again opened the lid off India's caste cauldron.
So, what is the percent of OBCs (Other Backward Castes) in India's population. The figures range from 28% to as high as 38%.
In fact, it is also possible that the OBCs could number around 40% of Indian population. In some regions, the backward castes are landed communities and influential but have little presence in government jobs.
Caste-wise population and their percentage in India
As per ancient system, except Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, all the others are Shudras [almost 90% of India's population]. The Shudras include all OBCs, Dalit [SC], Scheduled Tribes and intermediary castes. In the pie chart, Upper Castes includes Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya etc.
The non-Hindu OBCs include Muslims. The intermediary includes Hindu castes of Jat, Reddy, Patel and Maratha (as per their status in various areas). The Upper Muslims are non-OBC and non-ST while the rest include upper Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and rests.
Is this distribution or caste composition correct? I don't know, frankly.
The 14% Muslims are thus divided as per their castes in this chart.
So are the OBCs most numerous in India? I was recently reading an article published in a weekly paper about the by-poll in an assembly constituency.
It was stunning to see the detail of caste configuration to which they had calculated, in order to understand ground realities as how caste cohesiveness works in elections.
They had mentioned each and every group that even constituted over 1% of the population. There were castes like Dangi, Kiraar, Lodhi and what not! Many of them form large population in a constituency, even 15-20%, but groups that represent just 1-5% have the numerical strength in legislature and executive.
The reason is that historically the groups that are disadvantaged, find it enormously tough to go ahead of Brahmins, Banias, Thakurs and the elite among Muslims, Sikhs, Christians or Jains. One wonders how much fragmentisation we will witness in the years to come.
Percent wise Brahmins are more in percentage terms in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. However, in UP, they form less than 8% of state's population. The Bania are even less, not even 3% in India.
Similarly, Thakurs are not too large a community but have traditional power due to their financial resources, land and clanship, they are visible and wield influence. They are barely 3% overall in India's vast population.
The Kayasthas, who are considered Upper Caste, due to their disproportionately high strength in educational institutes and bureaucracy are not even 1% in states like UP and Bihar, which t hey chiefly inhabit. In Southern states, situation is different.
Dominant castes in AP, Karnataka, UP-Rajasthan
Reddys are considered Upper Caste, as they are moneyed and privileged. They are over-represented in jobs and Assemblies. In Karnataka, Backward Castes like Lingayat and Vokkaliga dominate, just like Gujjars and Meenas are strong OBCs in UP-Rajasthan regions.
Meenas have got ST status in some regions. The situation in Tamil Nadu is entirely different. Due to strong Dravidian movement against caste, condition of backwards and Dalits improved. Yet Bramins have more influence than their real numbers.