Other Backward Class

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Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are educationally and socially disadvantaged. It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs). The OBCs were found to comprise 52% of the country's population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, which in fact is around 80% of India's total population. [1]

In the Indian Constitution, OBCs are described as "socially and educationally backward classes", and the Government of India is enjoined to ensure their social and educational development - for example, the OBCs are entitled to 27% reservations in public sector employment and higher education. The list of OBCs maintained by the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is dynamic, with castes and communities being added or removed depending on social, educational and economic factors.

Until 1985, the affairs of the Backward Classes were looked after by the Backward Classes Cell in the Ministry of Home Affairs. A separate Ministry of Welfare was established in 1985 (renamed in 1998 to the Ministry of Social and Empowerment) to attend to matters relating to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs.[2] The Backward Classes Division of the Ministry looks after the policy, planning and implementation of programmes relating to social and economic empowerment of OBCs, and matters relating to two institutions set up for the welfare of OBCs, the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation and the National Commission for Backward Classes.

Obligation of the government[edit]

Under Article 340 of the Indian Constitution, it is obligatory for the government to promote the welfare of the OBCs.

The president may by order appoint a commission, consisting of such persons as he thinks, fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties and as to improve their condition and as to the grants that should be made, and the order appointing such commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the commission. ... A commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper.

—Article 340 of the Indian Constitution

A 1992 decision of the Supreme Court of India resulted in a requirement that 27% of civil service positions be reserved for members of OBCs.[3] In August 2010 the Times of India reported that at most 7% of eligible positions[clarification needed] had been filled by OBCs, in spite of the 27% reservation.[4] This difference between proportion of different communities in higher educational institutions is mainly because of difference in primary school enrollment. Political parties in India have attempted to use these communities as votebanks.[citation needed]

Demographics[edit]

First Backward Classes Commission[edit]

Main article: Kalelkar Commission

Below is the distribution of population of each Religion by Caste Categories,obtained from merged sample of Schedule 1 and Schedule 10 of available data from the NSSO 55th (1999-2000) and NSSO 61st Rounds (2004–05) Round Survey[5]

Distribution of Population of each Religion by Caste Categories
Religion/Caste SCs STs OBCs Forward Caste/Others
Hinduism 22.2% 9% 42.8% 26%
Islam 0.8% 0.5% 39.2% 59.5%
Christianity 9.0% 32.8% 24.8% 33.3%
Sikhism 30.7% 0.9% 22.4% 46.1%
Jainism 0.0% 2.6% 3.0% 94.3%
Buddhism 89.5% 7.4% 0.4% 2.7%
Zoroastrianism 0.0% 15.9% 13.7% 70.4%
Others 2.6% 82.5% 6.25 8.7%
Total 19.7% 8.5% 41.1% 30.8%

The First Backward Classes Commission was established by a presidential order on 29 January 1953 under the chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar, and submitted its report on 30 March 1955. It had prepared a list of 2,399 backward castes or communities for the entire country, of which 837 had been classified as the "most backward". Some of the most notable recommendations of the commission were:

  1. Undertaking caste-wise enumeration of population in the census of 1961;
  2. Relating social backwardness of a class to its low position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Indian society;
  3. Treating all women as a class as "backward";
  4. Reservation of 70 per cent seats in all technical and professional institutions for qualified students of backward classes.
  5. Reservation of vacancies in all government services and local bodies for other backward classes.

The commission in its final report recommended "caste as the criteria" to determine backwardness. However, the report was not accepted by the government, which feared that the backward classes excluded from the caste and communities selected by the commission might not be considered, and those in most need would be swamped by the multitudes, thus receiving insufficient attention.[citation needed]

Mandal Commission[edit]

Main article: Mandal Commission
**NFHS Survey estimated only Hindu OBC population. Total OBC population derived by assuming Muslim OBC population in same proportion as Hindu OBC population.

The decision to set up a second backward classes commission was made official by the president on 1 January 1979. The commission popularly known as the Mandal Commission, its chairman being B. P. Mandal, submitted a report in December 1980 that stated that the population of OBCs, which includes both Hindus and non-Hindus, was around 52 per cent of the total population according to the Mandal Commission.

However, this finding was criticized[by whom?] as based on "fictitious data". The National Sample Survey puts the figure at 32%.[6] There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBCs in India, with census data compromised by partisan politics. It is generally estimated to be sizable, but lower than the figures quoted by either the Mandal Commission or and National Sample Survey.[7]

27 percent of reservation was recommended owing to the legal constraint that the total quantum of reservation should not exceed 50 percent. States which have already introduced reservation for OBC exceeding 27 per cent will not be affected by this recommendation. With this general recommendation the commission proposed the following overall scheme of reservation for OBC:

  1. Candidates belonging to OBC recruited on the basis of merit in an open competition should not be adjusted against their reservation quota of 27 per cent.
  2. The above reservation should also be made applicable to promotion quota at all levels.
  3. Reserved quota remaining unfilled should be carried forward for a period of three years and de-reserved thereafter.
  4. Relaxation in the upper age limit for direct recruitment should be extended to the candidates of OBC in the same manner as done in the case of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
  5. A roster system for each category of posts should be adopted by the concerned authorities in the same manner as presently done in respect of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates.

These recommendations in total are applicable to all recruitment to public sector undertakings, both under the central and state governments as well as to nationalised banks. All private sector undertakings which have received financial assistance from the government in one form or other should also be obliged to recruit personnel on the aforesaid basis. All universities and affiliated colleges should also be covered by the above scheme of reservation. Although education is considered an important factor to bring a desired social change, "educational reform" was not within the terms of reference of this commission. To promote literacy the following measures were suggested:

  1. An intensive time-bound programme for adult education should be launched in selected pockets with high concentration of OBC population.
  2. Residential schools should be set up in these areas for backward class students to provide a climate specially conducive to serious studies. All facilities in these schools including board and lodging should be provided free of cost to attract students from poor and backward class homes.
  3. Separate hostels for OBC students with above facilities will have to be provided.
  4. Vocational training was considered imperative.
  5. It was recommended that seats should be reserved for OBC students in all scientific, technical and professional institutions run by the central as well as state governments. The quantum of reservation should be the same as in the government services, i.e. 27 per cent.[citation needed]

Legal dispute[edit]

Supreme Court interim stay[edit]

On 29 March 2007, the Supreme Court of India, as an interim measure, stayed the law providing for 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes in educational institutions like IITs and IIMs. This was done in response to a public interest litigation — Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India. The Court held that the 1931 census could not be a determinative factor for identifying the OBCs for the purpose of providing reservation. The court also observed, "Reservation cannot be permanent and appear to perpetuate backwardness".[8]

Supreme Court verdict[edit]

On 10 April 2008 the Supreme Court of India upheld the government's initiative of 27% OBC quotas in government-funded institutions. The Court has categorically reiterated its prior stand that those considered part of the "Creamy layer" should be excluded by government-funded institutions and by private institutions from the scope of the reservation policy. The verdict produced mixed reactions from supporting and opposing quarters.

Several criteria to identify the portion of the population comprising the "creamy layer" have been recommended, including the following:[9]

  • Children of those with family income above INR 250,000 a year, and then INR 450,000 a year as of October 2008 and now INR 600,000 a year, should be considered creamy layer, and excluded from the reservation quota.
  • Children of doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, actors, consultants, media professionals, writers, bureaucrats, defence officers of colonel and equivalent rank or higher, high court and Supreme Court judges, all central and state government Class A and B officials should be excluded.
  • The Court has requested Parliament to exclude the children of MPs and MLAs as well.

Supreme Court conclusions from Ashoka Kumar Thakur vs. Union of India[edit]

  1. The Constitution (Ninety-Third Amendment) Act, 2005 does not violate the "basic structure" of the Constitution so far as it relates to the state maintained institutions and aided educational institutions. Question whether the Constitution (Ninety-Third Amendment) Act, 2005 would be constitutionally valid or not so far as "private unaided" educational institutions are concerned, is left open to be decided in an appropriate case.
  2. The "Creamy layer" principle is one of the parameters to identify backward classes. Therefore, principally, the "Creamy layer" principle cannot be applied to STs and SCs, as SCs and STs are separate classes by themselves.
  3. Preferably there should be a review after ten years to take note of the change of circumstances.
  4. A graduation (not technical graduation) or professional course deemed to be educationally forward.
  5. Principle of exclusion of Creamy layer applicable to OBC's.
  6. The Central Government shall examine as to the desirability of fixing a cut off marks in respect of the candidates belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)to balance reservation with other societal interests and to maintain standards of excellence. This would ensure quality and merit would not suffer. If any seats remain vacant after adopting such norms they shall be filled up by candidates from general categories.
  7. So far as determination of backward classes is concerned, a Notification should be issued by the Union of India. This can be done only after exclusion of the creamy layer for which necessary data must be obtained by the Central Government from the State Governments and Union Territories. Such Notification is open to challenge on the ground of wrongful exclusion or inclusion. Norms must be fixed keeping in view the peculiar features in different States and Union Territories. There has to be proper identification of Other Backward Classes (OBCs). For identifying backward classes, the Commission set up pursuant to the directions of this Court in Indra Sawhney 1 has to work more effectively and not merely decide applications for inclusion or exclusion of castes.
  8. The Parliament should fix a deadline by which time free and compulsory education will have reached every child. This must be done within six months, as the right to free and compulsory education is perhaps the most important of all the fundamental rights (Art.21 A). For without education, it becomes extremely difficult to exercise other fundamental rights.
  9. If material is shown to the Central Government that the Institution deserves to be included in the Schedule (institutes which are excluded from reservations) of The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 (No. 5 of 2007), the Central Government must take an appropriate decision on the basis of materials placed and on examining the concerned issues as to whether Institution deserves to be included in the Schedule of the said act as provided in Sec 4 of the said act.
  10. Held that the determination of SEBCs is done not solely based on caste and hence, the identification of SEBCs does not violate Article 15(1) of the Constitution.

Lists[edit]

Lists of OBCs are maintained by both the National Commission for Backward Classes and the individual states. The central list does not always reflect the state lists, which can differ significantly. A community identified as a nationally recognized OBC in the NCBC central list may be so recognized only in specific states or only in limited areas within specific states. Occasionally, it is not an entire community that is thus classified but rather some parts within it.[3][10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "OBc count: 52 or 41%? - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  2. ^ "About Us - Brief History". Socialjustice.nic.in. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  3. ^ a b "Ministry of Social Welfare Resolution". Gazette of India. New Delhi. 10 September 1993. pp. ?–52. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Kumar, D Suresh (25 September 2010). "17 yrs after Mandal, 7% OBCs in govt jobs". Times News Network. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  5. ^ Sachar, Rajindar (2006). "Sachar Committee Report(2004-2005)" (PDF). Government of India. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  6. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  7. ^ Anand, Arun (24 May 2006). "What is India's population of other backward classes?". Archived from the original on 26 May 2007. 
  8. ^ "Supreme Court OBC quota in IITs, IIMs". rediff.com (Rediff.com India Limited). 29 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-01. 
  9. ^ "New Cutoff for OBCs". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 11 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  10. ^ NCBC Central list of Other Backward Classes

External links[edit]