OBC list to be sub-categorised

Arun Jaitley addressing the press after a Cabinet meeting in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

In a move that could have a far-reaching political and social impact, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to set up a commission which will examine the issue of sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

The committee has a three-point mandate. One, it has to examine the “extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation” among various castes and communities that come under the Central OBC list.

The committee also has to work out the mechanism, criteria and parameters for the actual sub-categorisation. This will be tricky. The actual reservation will continue to be 27% and within this the committee will have to do the re-arranging.

For example, if the committee comes to the conclusion that in the last many years Yadavs have benefited far more than Khatiks or Sainis then the amount of reservation for them will be increased vis-à-vis the Yadavs. “Of course, some castes will suffer a few cuts, but ultimately it will facilitate better distribution of benefits,” said a senior minister.

The third task is bringing order to the Central list of OBCs by removing any repetitions.

Briefing reporters on the Cabinet decision, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “The National Commission for Backward Classes had recommended it in 2011 and a standing committee too had repeated this. Already 11 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Jammu region have such a categorisation in State government jobs.”

The committee will work on a tight schedule and have to deliver the report in 12 weeks.

Creamy layer cap raised

The Union Cabinet also increased the “creamy layer” ceiling for the Other Backward Classes to ₹8 lakh per annum from the existing ₹6 lakh for Central government jobs. This means that the umbrella of reservation is widened and those earning up to ₹8 lakh per annum would now get the benefits.

Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot tried to underplay the political implications of the move. “This has been a long-standing demand from the people. In 1992 too the Supreme Court had in a judgment given a similar recommendation. The OBC Commission as well as the standing committee have favoured this. So it is not actually a new idea,” Mr. Gehlot said.

The committee will have an uphill task. Though the caste census has been completed, the Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to release it. “Our Ministry has details that there are 5000-odd castes but we do not have the exact number of people who fall under this list. The caste census remains with the Home Ministry,” Mr. Gehlot added.

The BJP welcomed the move wholeheartedly. “The decision of the Modi government to form a commission for the sub-categorisation of OBCs, is a move that will prioritise the Extremely Backward Classes and adheres to the principles of justice,” BJP president Amit Shah tweeted welcoming the Cabinet’s decision.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 4:08:12 PM |

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