OBC sub-categorisation


  • Recently, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the legal debate on sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for reservations, referring the issue to a larger Bench to decide.
  • While this concerns SCs and STs, a Commission has been examining sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) for almost three years now.

What is Sub-Categorisation of OBCs?

  • The question of sub-categorisation of OBCs arises out of the perception that only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of this 27% reservation.
  • The argument for sub-categorisation or creating categories within OBCs for reservation is that it would ensure “equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.

Examination of Sub-Categorisation of OBCs

  • The Commission to Examine Sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes took charge in 2017.
  • The Commission is headed by retired Delhi High Court Chief Justice G Rohini, includes Centre for Policy Studies director Dr J K Bajaj as member, and has two other ex-officio members.

Terms of References for OBC Sub-Categorisation

  • It was originally set up with three terms of reference, but the fourth term of reference was recently added by the Cabinet. The terms of reference are:
    • To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs with reference to such classes included in the Central List;
    • To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs;
    • To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories
    • To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

Key Findings of the OBC Sub-Categorisation Commission

  • In 2018, the Commission analysed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years.
    • It also examined OBC admissions to central higher education institutions, including universities, IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS, over the preceding three years.
  • The key findings of the analysis were:
    • 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs;
    • 24.95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities;
    • 983 OBC communities i.e. 37% of the total listed OBC communities, have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions;
    • 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.
    • As per the 2018-19 annual report of the Department of Personnel and Training, OBC representation is 13.01% in group-A central government services, 14.78% in group-B, 22.65% in group-C (excluding safai karmacharis) and 14.46% in group-C (safai karmacharis).
    • The data based on Right to Information (RTI) showed that 95.2% of the professors, 92.9% of associate professors and 66.27% of assistant professors were from the general category.

What is the level of OBC recruitment in central jobs?

  • As per the 2018-19 annual report of the Department of Personnel and Training (accessed online on August 28, 2020), OBC representation is 13.01% in group-A central government services, 14.78% in group-B, 22.65% in group-C (excluding safai karmacharis) and 14.46% in group-C (safai karmacharis).
  • According to an RTI-based report, there was not a single professor and associate professor appointed under the OBC quota in central universities.
  • The data showed that 95.2% of the professors, 92.9% of associate professors and 66.27% of assistant professors were from the general category (which may also include SCs, STs and OBCs who had not availed the quota).
  • At assistant professor level, representation of OBCs was just 14.38%.

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