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What did OBC Narendra Modi do for the OBCs?

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The OBCs are almost absent in higher judiciary and secretary-level positions in the bureaucracy.

More than half of the country’s population belongs to the Other Backward Class (OBC) community. And, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that he is an OBC. In such a scenario it will be interesting to see what the current government has done for the OBCs.

During the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014 when the election campaign fever was at its peak, leaders of all parties were making promises and claims, and leveling allegations against the other. In a public meeting in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi mocked and targeted the Congress party and its leaders. Next day, Priyanka Gandhi responded: “Narendra Modi in Amethi has insulted my martyr father. For this neech rajniti (lowly politics), each polling booth in Amethi will exact revenge.”

It was as if Narendra Modi was waiting for such a statement by Priyanka Gandhi. The very next day, in another public meeting at Domariaganj, Uttar Pradesh, he said, “Yes, it is right that I am born into a lower caste, but my dream is one unified India, a superior India… Give me as many abuses as you want, let Modi be hanged, but do not insult my lower caste brethren”. He tweeted the same day, “I have risen from a socially backward class, so my politics would be ‘lowly politics’ for those people.”

In the next tweet, he further clarifies that “maybe some people do not see it, but the selflessness, sacrifice and courage of the lower castes play a crucial role in uplifting the country to such heights”.

Once again in 2017, a similar incident took place in the run-up to the Gujarat election when Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said, “Narendra Modi is a lowly kind of person, he is not at all civilised”. Modi responded to the barb at a public meeting the next day and said, “Mani Shankar Aiyar told me that I belong to a lower caste and he called us the dirty gutter worm (gandi nali ka keeda). Is it not an insult to Gujarat and Gujarati people?”


Also read: Census 2021 must ask every Indian their caste, not just OBCs


Narendra Modi belongs to the ‘Modh Ghanchi’ caste of Gujarat. He constantly wears his lower caste identity on his sleeves, and never forgets to mention it. His repeated utterance regarding his caste perhaps connects him with the OBCs who comprise 52 per cent of the country’s total population. This figure is articulated by the Mandal Commission based on the 1931 Census; caste groups except SC/STs were never enumerated since 1931. The caste data of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC 2011), which was conducted between 2011 and 2016, has not been made public.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what major steps have been taken by Narendra Modi for the OBCs. According to the BJP, providing constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) is one of the major achievements of the current government. A new Article 338B has been added to the Constitution by enacting the Constitution (123rdAmendment) Bill. This bill has been passed by consensus in Parliament. The NCBC now has the powers of a civil court. These include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence. The NCBC now has the right to study the condition of the backward castes. It can also inquire into specific complaints regarding violation of rights, and give advice and make recommendations on socio-economic development of such classes. Now, this commission has got the same status as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes or the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

The BJP is boasting about the government’s initiative of enhancing the status of the NCBC, but it is difficult to say if this will change the lives of the OBCs and how exactly that’s going to happen. This seems more of a symbolic act. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes or the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has not proved to be effective although both have had constitutional status for long.

Another big step taken by the BJP for the OBCs is the formation of a commission for their bifurcation into sub-groups. On 2 October 2017, the central government issued a notification for formation of a commission under Article 340 of the Constitution. This commission has been entrusted with three tasks: (i) to examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the OBCs, (ii) to work out the mechanism, criteria and parameters for sub-categorization, (iii) to take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities in the OBCs and classifying them into sub-categories. The Commission was given 12 weeks to submit its report.


Also read: Modi’s new vote: Sub-categorisation set to bring OBCs into BJP fold


The BJP has claimed that the commission, headed by retired Justice G. Rohini, will help the extremely backward castes get justice. The rationale behind the formation of this commission is that backwardness among the OBCs is not even and hence benefits of the reservation policy are not evenly distributed. As a result, several castes under the OBC category are left out with the upper layer usurping the benefits. Therefore, the OBC category should be split. There are already sub categories among backward castes in as many as seven states.

But the commission, which had to give its report in 12 weeks, has not been able to submit it even after 12 months.  The government has extended the commission’s term thrice and the report is now expected to be submitted by 20 November. Looking at the commission’s pace of work and the challenges it is facing, it is anybody’s guess if the new deadline can be met.

We don’t know at this stage what steps the Modi government intends to take on this report and what will be their effect on the OBC politics and the politics of the country. This may be one of the game-changers in OBC politics.

As far as government schemes for the OBCs are concerned, the government is not claiming anything big. The government has turned down the demand for a separate ministry for the OBCs.

The responsibility for the development of the OBCs is under the ministry of social justice and empowerment, which also has to work for the development of the Scheduled Castes, elderly, drug addicts, beggars, transgender and physically challenged.

For the upliftment of all these sections of people, the ministry received only Rs 8,820 crore in the Union Budget of 2018-19.


Also read: By ignoring OBCs for party positions, BJP would repeat Congress’ fatal mistake


Of this allocation, the budget for OBCs was only Rs 1,745 crore. Considering the population of the OBCs, which is around 70 crore, the annual expenditure of the central government on each OBC person is a meagre Rs 25. This amount in itself is divided among nine different government schemes for the OBCs. There is also a National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation, which has an annual budget of only Rs 100 crore, which is taken out from the Rs 1,745 crore allocation. This fund is responsible for giving loans to OBC entrepreneurs.

The budgetary allocation shows how serious the government is about development of the backward class entrepreneurs. It’s true that this anomaly is not a creation of the Modi government. All these problems are a continuation of the previous Congress-led governments’ policy. But circumstances have not changed under this government too, which is headed by a self-proclaimed OBC leader.

The participation of the OBCs in higher levels of governance is low and there is no change in the current situation as compared to the Congress rule. Their representation in Group-1 central government jobs is merely 13.01 per cent. In Group-2 jobs, the representation of OBCs is 14.78 per cent. The OBCs are almost absent in higher judiciary, secretary-level positions in the bureaucracy and in PSUs and banks. The BJP is not even claiming that the representation of the OBCs in bureaucracy has increased.

In such a situation, will Prime Minister Modi still boast about his OBC status in the next parliamentary election? Keep an eye on the BJP’s 2019 manifesto.

The author is a senior journalist.

Read this article in Hindi.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. India is ruined by divide and rule policy ,a legacy left behind by Britishers !! Harijan people are often complaining that they are looked down by the society as lower castes ! But are they willing to throw away their benefits earned on caste basis ?? NEVER !! That is the pity.Even if Modiji wanted to do away with caste system harijans will never agree for that.This similar to Muslims that they create reasons to get lynching to propagate victim hood !! After enjoying more and more benefits harijans say that they are downtrodden !! What a joke ? I request Mr.Modiji to eliminate all benefits given to people on the basis of caste ,creed and religion !!Then only equality of citizens and equality of religions will come into force ! That are the MAIN characteristics of democracy and secularism !!

  2. Be it an OBC or a Dalit, once shaped in the RSS is only there to propagate Sanghi ideology which is primairly against reservation for the Dalits and OBCs, for creation of Aryavrat, and Manuwad, meaning no concessions to the Dalits, OBCs and least of all the Muslims as enunciated by Guru Golwalkar. Has Modi or any BJP leader ever disowned Golwalkar? Not to my knowledge.

  3. No, Sir. Narendra Modi has not done anything exclusively for OBCs. Whatever he has done or is trying to do, are for the 125 crores Indians. However, I congratulate you (the author) for trying to play dirty caste politics.

  4. It’s good what the print is doing ,because very less media outlet even talk about OBC which have a major chunk in population of India.
    OBC’s have under representation on many places in govt. Institution that doesn’t mean they are not talented ,it clearly meaning is that the main political parties bosses are not from OBC’s .Even the print written a article on mudra loan distribution how even there obc’s people didn’t get loan how much they deserve ,is it not castiest?
    Only a particular community people get major chunk of major loan.it happened because OBC’s people doesn’t have a proper representation in banks even.
    I doesn’t belongs to any political parties but I believe that without equitabely distribution of resources we can not come as a develop nation.

  5. Govt should give reservation to upper cast community according to their presence in popularion, for next 10 years which will nullify their point against reservation to backwards .70years after independece no representation in H C and S C judges secretary level jobs,collegium and secretary promots only their cast and kin,

  6. What Nehru Dynasty did for Kashmiri Bhrahmins? Allowed and encouraged Kashmiri Muslims to Kill all the Bhrahmins / Pandiths during the rule of Farooq Abdullah. Is it not.
    Is it possible to recruit and promote OBCs as IAS officers in 4 years as cabinet secretaries ? If not what is the standard of your article and this magazine prints this.?
    What Govt headed by Nehru family did in this direction for 65 years?

  7. First! STOP THIS CASTE BASED DEVELOPMENT VISION! What did OBC people do to the society? Don’t give me one name out millions. Everybody busy developing own caste group! Shame on your Journalism. I’m OBC! I didn’t utilize reservation. I rely on my skill. People who also have ability to gain skill, just because they reservations, they’re taking things easy. Literally you’re making lazy people. You’re constantly supporting group based politics. Doesn’t your journalism have limits in stooping low?

    Congress have just handed over immense power to some castes and particular religion in my state which led huge disturbance in middle class lives. All of the particular group have immensely misused State’s resources and allocated only to their group, leading to NO SKILL people taking government positions, hence whole things are nasty. Rahul Gandhi..? Seriously? This guy forgot the names of the people(His party people) whom he shared stage with. He issued utmost idiotic statements. Yet, the party and journalists in support to him, made him president and expecting him to be prime minister! Don’t you guys have minimum self respect or responsibility? No wonder Jackals like you media have successfully let the British to rule for hundreds of years!

    If there has to be a group or caste, it should be all you jackals that’re troubling people!

  8. Comparison with the previous government, the existing government is in now way different. The one and only difference is that present is LOUD

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