Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Constitutional provisions on Backward Classes, need for sub- categorization and its significance, issues associated.
Context: Cabinet approves extension of the term of the Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes in the Central List till 31st May 2019.
Terms of references of the Commission are as follows:
- To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes/ communities included in the broad category of OBCs, with reference to the OBCs included in the Central list.
- To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization within such OBCs.
- To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/ sub-castes/ synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
Is sub-categorisation permissible under the law?
The Supreme Court in its order in Indra Sawhney and others vs. Union of India observed that there is no Constitutional or legal bar to a State categorizing backward classes as backward or more backward and had further observed that if a State chooses to do it (sub-categorization), it is not impermissible in law.
How are OBC reservations offered at present?
At present, there is a single Central OBC list, with entries from each State. People belonging to all of these castes can seek reservation from within the single 27% OBC reservation pie for Central government jobs and Central educational institutions. Nine States, however, have already sub-categorised OBCs. These are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry, Karnataka, Haryana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. OBC reservation became a reality after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, which categorised many castes as constituting backward classes and deserving of quotas. New castes have been added to the list over the years.
Need for subcategorization:
- Sub categorization of the OBCs will ensure that the more backward among the OBC communities can also access the benefits of reservation for educational institutions and government jobs.
- At present, many feel that the more advanced OBC castes corner the lion’s share of the benefits and have become influential. Not only will such a move offer more opportunities to the most backward castes among the OBCs but also give the government and the ruling party an opportunity to carve out a new political constituency.