Even as the imbroglio over reservation for OBCs in higher education institutes continues, with daggers drawn between proponents of the pro- and anti-quota stance, ET in partnership with National Council of Applied Economic Research’s senior fellow Rajesh Shukla did some quick analysis of the government’s own National Sample Survey (NSS 55th round 1999-2000) data on per capita consumption to come out with some startling figures.
From the front page lead story in today's Economic Times. So, what did this quick analysis show?
If you needed proof that social policy in this country operates quite in isolation of hard economic data, you need to look no further than the NSS data. OBCs — 35.8 % of India’s population and not 52% as the government would make us believe — compare favourably with the General category (36.5% population) on overall consumption figures as well as for individual products and services. [...]
At the top end, an average OBC spends Rs 15,436 compared to Rs 16,923 for General, and bottom 20% is the same for everyone, with OBC spends of Rs 3,293 hardly any different from the General’s spend of Rs 3,336.
We know why the ET gave this story such prominence. Still, this is something that's going to be important in the on-going tussle over the quota policy. The Supreme Court is going to be interested in data of this kind. I can already imagine Karan Thapar
barking at dazzling some hapless minister with this data...
This paragraph, however, is intriguing (and revealing, too):
What also emerges from this NSS data is the fact that on consumption spends there is hardly any difference in the bottom 20% of all categories, SC/ST (43.3% of its population in this segment), OBC (37.7%) and others (18.9 %) with APCCE of Rs 3,172, Rs 3,293 and Rs 3,336 respectively.
It's interesting that while ET publishes the relative fractions of the three categories in the bottom 20% in the NSS data, it doesn't give this break-up for the top 20%! I wonder why ...
A further nuance, which I can't claim to understand very well, is the following from this post by Prof. Madhukar Shukla of XLRI:
While it is true that that the last caste-based census was held in 1931, the Mandal Commission (and before that, Kaka Kakelkar Commission, 1961), had based their recommendations on their own sample surveys - one may have disagrements about the sample survey methodology, but it is not true that these reocommendations were based on 1931 data!
The differences in the estimates of OBCs among different surveys (52% by Mandal Commission, 32% by NSSO, 29% by National Family & Health Survey, etc.) is not because one is more accurate than the other - but because each uses difference criteria to define OBCs.
Can someone help me with figuring out the origin of this difference? Preferably with some online resources?