The Supreme Court’s direction to the government to exclude the creamy layer from the ambit of reservation for the OBCs in higher education amounts to redefining backwardness in terms of income. It gives rise to the doubt that the judiciary is stepping into the legislature’s shoes. Defining backwardness is the responsibility of Parliament and the judiciary can only examine the constitutional validity of the definition.

If, for any reason, the economic criterion is incorporated to determine backwardness, only the poorest among the OBCs who cannot afford to pay for higher education will be eligible for reservation. The objective of the policy will be defeated. The creamy layer conditionality will only satisfy the hidden agenda of the anti-reservation groups.

C. Kannapiran,


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Many OBCs who earn a taxable income — small traders, shopkeepers, etc. — are educationally backward and hence low in the social ladder. They are yet to enter the educational mainstream. They do not encourage their wards to pursue higher education as they want them to lend a helping hand in their business.

In a country where people tend to carry on the traditional and hereditary occupations of their family, government intervention is necessary to educate the young. The exclusion of the creamy layer should be reconsidered.

Shiv Nadar Karthik,


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The creamy layer’s exclusion at the admission stage may result in large number of reserved seats going unfilled because the poorer OBC students may not be able to pay the high fees in the IITs and the IIMs. This will defeat the very purpose of reservation. With the IIMs pegging their fees at Rs. 6 lakh a year, how can a family earning less than Rs.2.5 lakh avail itself of the quota?

S. Malaisamy Thevar,


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The argument that reservation for the OBCs will adversely affect merit in the premier educational institutions is misplaced. The entrance tests to the Tamil Nadu professional courses (conducted till recently) should form a good case study for the nation. By topping the rank lists year after year, the OBCs raised the bar of excellence. The scene will not be very different in the IITs and IIMs after 10 years of reservation.

S.A. Nasser Khan,


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If the only purpose of reservation is to uplift the underprivileged, the exclusion of the creamy layer is in order. Politicians should acknowledge this and work towards eliminating reservation and hoping that one day all the OBCs will constitute the creamy layer. Women, who have been historically suppressed for ages (by tradition and manipulation), did not need reservation to progress educationally. Exclusive women’s educational institutions provided them the opportunities.

Likewise, exclusive institutions for the SCs, the STs and the OBCs should be started with donors and governments providing scholarships and other incentives.

S.P. Sundaram,

Bangalore Tiruvalluvar, the great poet, said it is better to aim a spear at an elephant and miss than shoot an arrow at a rabbit and kill it. Many among the OBCs have proved their mettle in all spheres, even in open competition with the ‘upper’ castes. They have become the creamy layer now. Let them hold their heads high and continue to compete with their peers in the forward castes. They should not think of improving their lot by competing with their less privileged brethren in their own castes. Political leaders will stand exposed if they seek a review of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the creamy layer issue.

P. Jothilingam,


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The real prescription for backwardness lies in giving a push to the educationally backward at the primary school level.

Support should be extended for a limited period and a review undertaken. This will gradually lead to the disappearance of caste-based reservation.

K.R. Krishnaswami,


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Those who argue that caste-based reservation perpetuates divisions in society should bear in mind that in a multi-cultural society where there are many dissimilarities, reservation still holds good. Even after 60 years of independence, competing with the forward castes is a far cry for many backward castes.

One wonders how many people from the backward castes would make it to the civil services without reservation.

Thangkhochon Haokip,

New Delhi