The government is set to constitute a commission to examine how the Central list of OBCs can be divided into sub-groups, an act that appears to be a BJP move to win over the “most backward castes” by addressing their grievance of “inequitable” distribution of Mandal reservation benefits.
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of a commission for sub-categorisation of OBCs.
It sets the ball rolling on a proposal pending with the Centre since the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) made a detailed recommendation to the social justice ministry in March 2015.According to a government statement, the commission will submit its report within 12 weeks of its constitution.
According to its terms of reference, the panel will examine the degree of “inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation” among OBCs and suggest the mechanism for sub-categorisation.
It will also divide the OBC list into categories.
The demand for sub-categorisation is rooted in the lament that clubbing all the “backward castes”, irrespective of their social and financial status, under the rubric of “OBC” puts them at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the dominant ones in the competition for jobs and educational opportunities. The weaker backward castes — “most backward” — have long complained that stronger OBCs were cornering quota benefits because they were unable to compete with them owing to their weaker socio-economic status.
To redress the situation, it is suggested that the OBC list be divided into multiple categories (like backward, most backward and extremely backward) and the 27% quota quantum apportioned among them according to their population. Politically, it is expected to lead to polarisation along a “backward vs most backward” line.
BJP president Amit Shah welcomed the decision, saying, “The sub-categories will ensure that priority can be given to communities among the OBCs which, because of their economic backwardness, are in greater need of reservation and other benefits.”
While the move will be resented by the stronger backward castes since sub-division will shrink their share of quota, it will be appreciated by the “most backward”.
In north India, Yadavs and Kurmis would be the major losers, while “MBCs” would celebrate their liberation from the yoke of their stronger brethren.