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OBC quota is for social backwardness, not economic, don’t change that — panel tells govt

In a letter to govt, the commission has taken strong exception to its new plan to include salary as a component to determine income ceiling for creamy layer of OBCs.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government should not tweak the OBC reservation in a manner that it flouts the basic principle guiding reservations norms in India, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has told the ruling dispensation.

In a letter written to the government earlier this month, the NCBC has taken strong exception to the government’s new proposal to include salary as a component to determine the income ceiling for the creamy layer of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The underlying principle behind reservation is to accord it on the basis of social and not economic backwardness, said an NCBC member, who didn’t want to be named.

The new proposal of the government fundamentally violates that, he added. 

The NCBC is headed by its chairman Bhagwan Lal Sahni.

As reported earlier by ThePrint, the government had recommended raising the income ceiling for the creamy layer of OBCs from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh per annum, and for the first time, called for salaries to be included in the income component of those seeking reservation under the OBC category.

“The whole commission has told the government that it would be against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case to change the basic principle of reservation… Reservations to OBCs are given to fix their social, and not economic backwardness,” the member said.

“As a constitutional body, the commission has advised what it thinks is correct and just…Rest is up to the government,” he added.

The DoPT, which is looking after the proposal, did not reply to ThePrint’s queries sent via WhatsApp to its spokesperson at the time of publishing this report.

Also read: To tweak OBC creamy layer or not. A Modi govt decision that can cost BJP the Bihar election

Govt panel had no OBC member

The commission has also “emphatically” taken exception to the fact that none of the members in the government-appointed panel, which first recommended these changes, had any OBC representation, another NCBC member said.

“One member in the four-member panel was OBC, but that member recused himself right at the beginning,” said the member.

“But the government did not appoint anyone after that… It is something the commission has emphatically highlighted.” 

The government-appointed panel, headed by former DoPT secretary B.P. Sharma, had given its recommendations to the government in September last year.

Following this, last month, the Social Justice Ministry had circulated a cabinet note, seeking suggestions and inputs from other ministries.  

‘Politically imprudent move’ 

According to both the members, the NCBC has also highlighted the fact that most seats reserved for OBCs in the government and educational institutions have been lying vacant.

“When already you are not able to fill the existing quota, why are you shrinking the pool further?” the second NCBC member quoted above said.

The NCBC, which consists of several BJP leaders, also believes that it would be a politically imprudent move for the government to antagonise its OBC voters who constitute a powerful vote bank for the BJP, the member added.

“We don’t know if there is a rethink in the government after these issues were highlighted to them,” the member said. “It has at least not been communicated to us yet.” 

On Tuesday, ThePrint had reported that the government has decided to put the proposal on hold until consensus is built with the stakeholders, especially OBC leaders from within the BJP.

Also read: EWS quota could soon get age and attempt relaxation like SCs, STs, OBCs


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  1. India also has become world’s 5th largest economy and planning to be 3rd till 2030 . So india should remove it’s ‘developing nation’ status as India also lies in creamy layer developing nations similar to creamy layer obc. So however backward india is india should be in the cateogry of developed nations like usa,France,uk, Germany, European countries etc. Even after 5th largest economy india is unable to win a single gold in olympic. It’s approach is very limited. Every international bodies head is of European origin. No international bodies is dominated by india. It is backward in every indices. Even after having money it can’t discover any new thing.

    Even after this usa should come up with creamy layer criteria which will make India a creamy layer developing nation. India should give up all its benefit.

  2. I think poverty line is decided on the income level and not from which caste or religion one is coming.

  3. Reservation is for genuine backwardness. This assumes that a scale of backwardness / forwardness exists and those at the far end of the scale (say 25% or 30% from the bottom) are chosen for reservation. In our country, the extent of backwardness seems to be scaled against the 10% of the population at the forward end of the scale and the rest 90% then use the constitution to distribute power amongst themselves. This is neither correct nor constitutional. In fact, it is a travesty.

  4. How do you determine social backwardness ? what are the parameters? When a community is deemed socially forward and progressive? These things are vague, variable and intangible. The income parameter, as is being proposed by the govt, is a good yardstick (if not the only one) to measure social backwardness. A person or family belonging to a particular community, whether SC/ST/OBC or upper caste, can be more “socially forward” than another of the sme community. You cannot expect to reap the benefits of reservations perpetually, generation after generation, even you u are earning lakhs and crores.

    • You could read the criteria recommended by the NCBC for inclusion in the central list of OBCs.
      And income parameter is not a yardstick to measure the social backwardness of a person.Earning 8 lakh per annum cannot lead you to cross the rubicon of social backwardness.Our constitution does not give reservation as a poverty allevation programme (as it is made by this NDA govt),we have other enough programmes to combat that,it gives reservation to fix the issue of under-representation of backward communities in education, jobs etc.
      Considering salary as income goes against this very basic idea of the constitution.Recommendation of Prasad committee is worth following.

      • Reservations are pan-Indian. Backwardness of same community is different in each state but yeah let’s call it ‘Social backwardness’ – Ever wondered how this dichotomy works ? Their is neither a proper criterion of backwardness in govt. nor a proper definition of caste among anthropologists & sociologists.

        Furthermore start from this EPW infograph if you want to learn about origins of Backwardness politics –

        Also read many of the OBC & SC reports which use economic, material & education criterion to prove the backwardness of the communities while calling it ‘Social backwardness’ when it comes to legal discussions, stop these hypocritical ideas everybody understands the politics behind all this jugglery of technicalities now.

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