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Some OBCs have edged out others from public services

The primary goal of reserving jobs for the OBCs is aimed at remedying the lingering effects of discrimination. But the ?map? used to design and implement such action is decades old and insufficiently detailed.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 22:55 IST

The primary goal of reserving jobs for the OBCs is aimed at remedying the lingering effects of discrimination. But the “map” used to design and implement such action is decades old and insufficiently detailed.

The following points show how the disputed legacies of the Mandal Commission (MC) report rest on misleading data and why it needs fresh sociological inputs:

n MC categorises 3743 castes as backward on the basis that caste is a ‘social class’ and 11 backwardness criteria are split under social, educational and economic heads.

n It used the 1891 and 1931 censuses, state notifications, socio-educational surveys to come to a figure of 52% as OBC population.

n OBC population estimated to be 32.1% according to the National Sample Survey (1999) and 32.4% according to National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 1998-99.

n Some backward castes like Jats in Rajasthan and the Kurmis, Koiries and Yadavs in Bihar, have edged other casts out of certain public services. Their large numbers have enhanced their political clout.

n The potential target for inclusion is endless. During 1993-2004, the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) considered 1133 cases of castes/communities for inclusion/rejection as OBCs in the Central/State Lists. 682 recommended for inclusion; 675 notified; 451 rejected.

n MC criteria were both over-inclusive and under-inclusive. The former, by assuming that all included within the OBC list were socially and economically disadvantaged; the latter because it excluded many other minority groups who were socially and economically disadvantaged.

n The NCBC has added another criterion to the MC's list. This relates to 'castes and communities, the share of whose members in number of cases and in extent of agricultural lands surrendered under the Agricultural Land Ceiling Act of the State, is nil or significantly low'. But since non-disclosure and circumvention of ceiling limits is widespread, this criterion can lead to misuse. No study has been conducted to tabulate land-ownership by OBCs.

n MC had calculated the representation of OBCs in all government services as 12.55 per cent and recommend reservation in public jobs. But no survey has been conducted to adjudge whether 13 years of reservations have improved the situation.

MC also recommended intensive adult education programmes; free residential schooling for OBCs; special coaching facilities and greater focus on vocational education. But Mandal II has perhaps found reservations as both an inexpensive and politically rewarding proposition.

First Published: May 29, 2006 02:00 IST