Identifying OBCs – Tata Institute of Social Studies paper
Here is an excellent paper written by Prof A. Ramaiah of the Tata Institute of Social Studies.
The word OBC means different things to different states.See how
It is apparent now that there was no definite meaning attached to the term backward classes at the all-India level. Although the meaning of backward classes varied from state to state, representatives from Madras, Mysore and Bombay by the time 9f constituent assembly
were of the opinion that the term backward classes was a distinct term with technical meaning. Example, in Mysore the backward classes were all but Brahmins, in Madras the backward classes were referred to a stratum of non-untouchable Hindu castes, and in Bombay the backward classes were not only SC and ST but also others who were economically, educationally and socially backward.
A quote from Andre Betielle
Andre Beteille has rightly said “reservation to SC and ST are for all their limitation directed basically towards the goal of greater equality over all. Reservation for OBC and for religious minorities, whatever advantages they may have are directed basically towards balance of power”
Other problem is the difficulty with the term SEBC. This means “Socially AND Educationally Backward” – not “Socially OR Educationally Backward”. So if a caste is socially backward but not educationally backward (based on how that component is represented relative to its population), can it avail of benefits ?
Another big problem is classifying Muslim and Christian OBCs. An interesting factoid is how the Mandal commission used different criteria to count government employment vs overall inclusion of castes in the OBC list.
(a) In respect of employees belonging to the Hindu Communities:
(i) an employee will be deemed to be socially backward if he does not belong to any of the three twice born (Dvij) ‘varnas’, I e, he is neither a brahmin, nor a kshatriya/nor
a vaishya; and
(ii) he will be deemed to be educationally backward if neither his father nor his grandfatherhad studied beyond the primary level.
(b) For non-Hindu Communities:
(i) an employee will be deemed to be socially backward if either (1) he is a convert from those Hindu communities which have been defined as socially backward as per
para (a) (i) above, (2) in case he is not such a convert, his parental income is below the prevalent poverty line, i e, Rs 71 per head per month.
(ii) he will be deemed to be educationally backward if neither his father nor his grandfather had studied beyond the primary level. It may be noted, an employee will qualify for membership of OBC only if, both socially and
educationally, he is found to be backward according to the above criteria.
If this was the criteria adopted to identify educational backwardness in 1980. Should we not adopt the same criteria 26 years later ? Does this mean OBC students with parents and/or grandparents who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, diplomats, IT professionals, are no longer educationally backward ?
The government should make a national level survey immediately and list out all the caste groups including that of the forward castes, and their socio-economic and educational status. The survey should take note of all the technical errors found in the various criteria adopted by Mandal and formulate more rational criteria and scientific approach towards identifying the really deserving people within the castes and communities of each stratum of our society.