FILE PHOTO: India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan speaks at a road show organised by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) in Mumbai, India, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade(REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan speaks at a road show organised by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) in Mumbai, India, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade(REUTERS)

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan nudges Odisha to implement 27% OBC quota

  • Odisha had announced 27% reservation for the OBC/SEBC category in government jobs in 2008 but later slashed it to 11.25% after it violated a Supreme Court cap of 50% on quota.
By Debabrata Mohanty
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:50 PM IST

Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday urged the Odisha government to increase reservation for OBCs in public employment and reserve seats for OBCs/SEBCs in educational and technical institutions in the state before conducting a survey of the social and educational conditions of backward classes.

“Backward classes constitute a considerable portion of the total population of Odisha. There are more than 210 communities identified as SEBCs (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) in Odisha. Most of them are suffering from the twin curses of poverty and illiteracy,” Pradhan said at a press conference.

Odisha’s commission for backward castes recently announced that it would begin a survey of backward classes people based on the social and educational status from May 1 and publish the final list in June.

Pradhan said the central government has provided 27% reservation to OBCs in government jobs as well as in educational institutions-a welfare measure upheld by the Supreme Court. "However, after more than 30 years of implementation of said reservations, it is difficult to decipher why the Odisha government is not providing any such reservations to OBCs in public employment or in educational institutions and to SEBCs in educational institutions. The current move for enumeration of SEBCs comes across as a dichotomous and dilatory step trying to mask the extant policies of the Odisha government denying reservations for OBCs and SEBCs categories," he said.

In 2008, Odisha had announced 27% reservation for the OBC/SEBC category in government jobs apart from the ST (22.5 %) and SC (16.25%) categories. But it was first struck down by the State Administrative Tribunal and later the High Court upheld the order in 2017 as it violated the SC order on capping the total reservation at not more than 50%. The government in 2014 through an executive order reduced the SEBC quota in government jobs from 27% to 11.25%.

However, there is no reservation for OBCs/SEBCs either in colleges or technical institutions and medical colleges.

Pradhan said he had written at least three letters to chief minister Naveen Patnaik Patnaik requesting for 27% reservation for socially and economically backward classes in government jobs and educational institutions in Odisha, but those have remained unaddressed.

And despite the Supreme Court cap on quota, Pradhan went on to claim, “The state government has enough power to enact law in the Assembly to exceed the 50% reservation cap. The government is already sitting over an SEBC list. Who is stopping it from giving reservation?”

Meanwhile, the backward class commission headed by former judge Raghunath Biswal has made elaborate arrangements for the survey. While 20,000 anganwadi workers would act as enumerators, over 7,000 nodal officers would supervise the survey at gram panchayats. Besides, supervisors will be deputed at block and district levels. Instead of moving from door-to-door, the enumerators would collect the necessary data from fair price shops through offline mode. The numerators will seek education details as well as economic conditions during the survey. People can also log into a website and register their details using their Aadhaar cards for authentication.

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