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Wary of political fallout, Modi govt puts on hold plan to change OBC creamy layer eligibility

Proposal called for raising income ceiling for creamy layer to Rs 12 lakh from Rs 8 lakh per annum and introduced salaries as a component to be calculated as income. 

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New Delhi: The Modi government has decided to put on hold a controversial proposal to include salaries as part of the income limit of other backward classes (OBCs) and raise the ceiling for the creamy layer from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh, ThePrint has learnt.

This would make those with an income of over Rs 12 lakh a year ineligible for the 27 per cent quota available for OBCs in government jobs and educational institutions.

According to senior officials in the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which comprises BJP members, has advised the government against the move as they believe it could have a massive political fallout for the NDA government.

“The government is in the process of building more consensus over the proposal before moving forward,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

“It is not correct to say that the proposal has been discarded altogether but the government is trying to bring all stakeholders on board.”

Sources said some OBC leaders from within the BJP have opposed the move as they believe it could antagonise OBC voters, especially before the Bihar polls scheduled for later this year.

Last month, ThePrint had reported that a government-appointed committee had recommended that the income ceiling for the creamy layer be increased, and for the first time, called for salaries to be included in the income component of those seeking reservation under the OBC category.

In its recommendations, the committee headed by former DoPT secretary B.P. Sharma, had argued that the current mechanism for identifying the creamy layer is fraught with complexities since salary is not included as part of income.

Following this, the social justice ministry circulated a Cabinet note on the recommendations, seeking suggestions from other ministries.

“The committee had recommended that the process should be made simpler by removing these caveats,” the government official quoted above said. “But since it is a sensitive issue with widespread ramifications, the government will not show any haste.”

Also read: Fear of quota claims, ‘need to save secular state’ — why caste never made it to the census

New proposal hikes limit but includes salaries

While there is 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in government jobs and educational institutions, those with an income of over Rs 8 lakh a year are not eligible for it. The new proposal would have increased this limit to Rs 12 lakh a month but by including salary as a component for the first time, it would have rendered a large number of people ineligible for benefits under the quota.

For example, the wards of mid-level government employees earning over Rs 12 lakh an annum would not be eligible for the benefits.

Under the current system, those with annual parental income (excluding earnings from farming, agriculture land among others) of Rs 8 lakh and above are not eligible for reservation benefits.

Further, those who hold constitutional positions and enter Class-A positions in the government sector are automatically included in the creamy layer.

In its previous tenure too, the Modi government had increased the income limit for creamy layer of OBCs from Rs 6 lakh per annum to Rs 8 lakh per annum.

Also read: Why upper castes polish shoes or sweep roads when protesting quota for Dalits and OBCs

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  1. This is confusing! Salary was not part of the income criteria so far? And this 8lpa also exclude income from agriculture and farming!

    Then what all is really included in this 8lpa – NOT salary, Not Agri income!?!

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