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Eye on Gujarat & HP polls, govt examines ‘special allocation’ for OBCs under welfare schemes

A similar plan for SCs and STs currently reserves a certain percentage of the allocation for government schemes for expenditure on their welfare.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is planning to create a “special component” for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in central schemes, like it exists for SCs and STs, ThePrint has learnt. The move comes ahead of assembly elections later this year in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, where the OBCs form a sizeable chunk of the population.

The social justice ministry, acting on the “persistent demand” of the parliamentary Committee on Welfare of OBCs, has written to the NITI Aayog asking if a ‘Special Component Plan‘ can be created for the OBCs. The document proposing the plan has been seen by ThePrint.

The idea has been raised with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), too, for further discussion, sources in the government said.

“The issue is quite critical and is currently being examined. It has been posed to the NITI Aayog and PMO for discussion and, depending on that, a decision will be taken,” said a senior government official.

The ‘Special Component Plan’ is an umbrella under which central and state schemes are dovetailed by apportioning funds exclusively for SCs and STs.

Currently, under the ‘Special Component Plan’ for SCs and STs, a certain percentage of the allocation for government schemes is reserved for expenditure on their welfare, and 41 ministries and departments are implementing the plan. For 2022-23, Rs 1.15 lakh crore has been allotted for the welfare of SCs alone.

Also read: ‘Can cause grave prejudice’ — govt seeks recall of SC order de-reserving OBC seats in MP

House panel report

In 2018-19, a report by Parliament’s Committee on Welfare of OBCs stated that it was “constrained to note that for the welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) which constitute 52 per cent of the total population of the country as per Mandal Commission Report and 41 per cent as per National Sample Survey conducted during 2004- 05 (61st Record), as low as 18-20 per cent of central funds out of total funds of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment are currently being made available”.

It pointed out that poverty and rate of unemployment among OBCs were quite high, and recommended that “commensurate central funds for welfare of OBCs be allocated urgently”.

“In the committee’s opinion, this calls for comprehensive review of central allocation for welfare of OBCs for the purpose of ameliorating poverty and unemployment among OBCs urgently,” the report noted.

“The committee in this connection also recalls that the Committee on Welfare of OBCs in their third report (Fifteenth Lok Sabha) presented to the Parliament on 30.08.2013 had also highlighted the issue in Recommendation Para Nos. 2.2 and 2.3. However, since then, not much improvement in the overall plight of OBCs in the country is discernible,” it said.

On the special component, a BJP leader said: “If we have such a plan for SCs and STs, then why should it not be there for the OBCs? If such a plan is implemented it will help uplift the community.”

The BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat since 1995, is seeking yet another term in the state. According to one estimate, the OBCs, excluding Muslim OBCs, constitute 35.6 per cent of the state’s population. In Himachal Pradesh, OBCs constitute about 18 per cent of the population.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: Why Supreme Court allowed OBC quota in local body polls for MP, but not Maharashtra

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