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Weeks before UP polls, Modi govt shelves proposal to change eligibility for OBC creamy layer

The proposed changes were: Increasing annual income limit for quota eligibility to Rs 12 lakh from Rs 8 lakh, and making salaries part of the gross annual income yardstick.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has decided to put on the backburner a proposal aimed at reworking the formula for the creamy layer of Other Backward Classes (OBC), ThePrint has learnt. The decision comes weeks ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. 

According to government sources, based on a report submitted by an expert committee formed under former secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, B.P. Sharma, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had proposed increasing the income limit — annual income under which one is eligible for quota — for determining the ‘creamy layer’ to Rs 12 lakh from the current Rs 8 lakh.

It had also proposed making salary earnings a part of the gross annual income that serves as the basis to determine a candidate’s eligibility for quota, the sources said. 

Currently, salaries are not included in the calculation of income. “The expert committee felt that this is discriminatory and gives excess advantage to the salaried sections, especially government officials,” said a senior government official.

According to another source, a Cabinet note for this was moved in February. However, the government has decided to go for a more detailed study into the matter and hence the proposal was returned to the social justice ministry last month, the source added. 

“Though the poorer sections would definitely benefit from the changes (more people will come within the ambit of reservation with the increase of the limit to Rs 12 lakh), there has been opposition from government employees in the B and C categories, who may get affected by the provisions (by the inclusion of salaries in the calculation of income, many may cross over into the creamy layer and be deprived of quota),” the source said.

“The Cabinet proposal has been returned and will be submitted again once a decision is taken by the government.”

The OBCs are entitled to 27 per cent reservation in government jobs and admission to government-funded educational institutions. However, the creamy layer among them is excluded from such benefits. 

Under the current rules, an OBC household with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh or above is classified as belonging to the ‘creamy layer’. 

Also Read: Why Haryana changed creamy layer rules for OBCs, and why Rs 6 lakh income cap is controversial

Criticism over caste census

The return of the proposal comes at a time when the government is already facing stiff criticism from the Opposition as well as some of its allies over the issue of a caste-based census. 

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court in September 2021, the government ruled out a caste census, saying that it would be cumbersome and administratively difficult.

With assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh set to take place early next year, the Opposition has made the demand for a caste census a major issue. 

According to a source, with the UP elections round the corner, the government doesn’t want to approach one more issue at a sensitive period.

 (Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: ST creamy layer is insignificant, inequalities still glaring: Dalit chamber of commerce


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