OBC quota may be split among castes

OBC quota may be split among different castes

NEW DELHI: The Centre is considering splitting the 27% OBC quota among different backward caste groups in a move that will challenge the overpowering influence of dominant communities like Yadavs and Kurmis and may trigger a resistance.

In what will change the face of backward caste reservation as brought in by Mandal Commissiontwo decades ago, the government plans to divide backward castes into sub-groups based on their socio-economic status. Each bloc would be assigned a part of the 27% reservation quota in central jobs and education, thus saving the weaker backwards from competing with stronger communities which have cornered the quota benefits.

National Commission for Backward Classes chairman M N Rao strongly argued for breaking down of 27% reservation into 'quota within quota' catering to sub-groups of 'real backwards' and prosperous ones, saying OBCs were not a homogenous class but had wide disparity amongst themselves. "A stonecutter and a goldsmith cannot be lumped together and asked to compete for a job," he told TOI, adding that there was a "feeling among real backwards" that benefits were not trickling down.

The government has responded to the commission's proposal by advising it to take up sub-classification after December when the BPL census – an exercise that will help identify the poor and enumerate OBCs – ends.

The proposed move will impact the prospects of different OBCs for central jobs and educational opportunities amid the widespread grievance that stronger groups among backwards like Yadavs and Kurmis in the north and similar ones in other regions have cornered the benefits. Complaints of dominant OBCs getting a disproportionate share of quota benefits have already led states to introduce subdivision.

OBC satraps like Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav may resist the move, dubbing it a machination to split backward unity. There is, however, an element of irony in it for them. For, it is they who insisted on caste-wise enumeration of the poor -- an exercise which will yield data of disparities among backwards, laying the foundation for splintering the OBC quota.

It could trigger a churn in the already volatile backward politics because while the OBC satraps would insist on maintaining status quo, the weaker among backwards may support the classification move. Having played second fiddle to the "forwards among the backwards", these categories, referred to as "most backward castes (MBCs) or extremely backward castes( EBCs)", have now begun to flex their political muscles.

An assortment of castes, they make up the overwhelming majority of the backward population and helped Nitish Kumar end Lalu Prasad's hegemony in Bihar. In neighbouring UP, they have been a powerful complement to Mayawati's dalit base.

On the all-India level, Congress can hope to be a beneficiary. The party's effort to cut into the OBC constituency has not succeeded despite the decision under UPA-1 to extend the OBC quota to central educational institutions. The failure is attributed to the signature of OBC satraps on Mandal quota. Congress can hope to attempt an outreach to the MBCs/EBCs with a move which will have the party's political imprimatur on it.

Importantly, a similar proposal for dividing SCs has polarized dalits into opposing groups, forcing the social justice ministry into a re-think.


Posts a comment

© Indian Dalit Muslims' Voice
Back to top