The move is seen as an effort to appease OBC leaders

The Union Cabinet will consider on Thursday a proposal from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to revise the “creamy layer” ceiling for OBCs, government sources told The Hindu. If the proposal is cleared, then those earning up to Rs. 6 lakh per annum will become eligible for reservation in education and jobs — the current ceiling is Rs. 4.5 lakh.

The move is seen as an effort not just to reach out to a wider OBC constituency, but also to appease OBC leaders who have always been vocal in expressing their unhappiness with the eligibility bar for quotas.

However, the suggested hike is less than the Rs. 12 lakh annual income recommended by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) to demarcate the creamy layer among the OBCs. The NCBC also wanted separate classifications for rural and urban areas, but the government is likely to retain the unified “creamy layer.”

The NCBC has argued that as affirmative action revolves around social discrimination, mere economic advancement will not translate into social advancement. Indeed, NCBC head M.N. Rao has been quoted as saying, “The basis of exclusion can be economic only if the financial advancement is enough to translate into social upward mobility.”

In 1993, when the “creamy layer” ceiling was introduced, it was Rs. 1 lakh. It was subsequently revised to Rs. 2.5 lakh in 2004 and Rs. 4.5 lakh in 2008.

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