The Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry wants schemes offered to the Other Backwards Classes (OBCs) to be extended to the ‘Economically Backward Classes’ (EBCs) and dedicated programmes for their welfare and economic empowerment.

Having taken the first step by defining the “economically backward classes”, the Ministry now wants a separate division to deal with issues related to the welfare and promotion of the EBCs.

The Ministry’s proposal, which has been sent for inter-ministerial consultations, will be put up for the Cabinet approval.

A Commission for the EBCs that was set up in 2004 had come out with a set of recommendations for improving the economic conditions of the EBCs who are not covered by the existing reservation policy for the SCs, STs and the OBCs.

EBCs were defined as families among the general category whose annual income from all sources falls below the taxable limit. “The Commission had recommended that there should be uniform criteria for the identification of the EBCs and that the welfare schemes that are currently applicable to other reserved categories like the OBCs, should be extended to them as well,” said an official of the Ministry.

Currently facilities like free education, scholarships and facilities for boarding and lodging in higher education institutions are offered to OBCs and the Ministry proposes to extend these to the EBCs.

Based on the Commission’s recommendations that were based on four broad categories--identification, quantum of reservation, welfare measures and institutional mechanism--the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has urged other Ministries to formulate schemes for EBCs.

The Ministry has proposed that the family should be the unit of identification of EBCs and the other parameters that emerged from socio-economic caste census can be incorporated for their welfare schemes.

Ministry’s proposal will be put up for the Cabinet approval