Mandal-era again: Modi govt appoints commission to identify OBC sub-categories

President Ram Nath Kovind has appoints commission to examine sub-categorisation of OBC

President Ram Nath Kovind has appoints commission to examine sub-categorisation of OBC

President Ram Nath Kovind made the appointment under Article 340 of the Constitution under which the Mandal commission, which recommended 27 per cent reservation for socially and educationally backward classes, was appointed. The stratification of the OBC quota could lead to a quota within quota in OBC reservations, in a move that may have far-reaching impact in national politics.

"This decision, taken on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, reinforces, in the spirit of his teachings, the government's efforts to achieve greater social justice and inclusion for all, and specifically members of the Other Backward Classes", it added.

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Ahead of Gujarat polls, the government on Monday night appointed a five-member Commission headed by Delhi High Court's retired Chief Justice G. Rohini to examine sub categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in a bid to ensure that more backwards among the OBC communities avail the benefits of reservation. Additionally, director, Anthropological Survey of India, registrar general and census commissioner, will be ex-officio members of the commission, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a media communication. The OBC-MBC divide, the anger among the MBCs against the dominant Yadav OBC political leadership has played a defining role in the politics of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar - the two Indian states where politics is still seen from the prism of castes and which account for a total of 120 of Lok Sabha's 543 seats. Even politically powerful groups including the Patidars in Gujarat and Marathas in Maharashtra have been demanding that they be included in the OBC list.

Once the commission submits its report, there is a possibility that the BJP might try to alter the current system of caste-based reservations but through a well-disguised logic. "There is no sub-categorisation in the central list".

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Talking about the proposal to set up such a commission in August, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir already had such categorisation in state government jobs. Last August, Union Cabinet had approved the setting up of this commission to identify the respective castes/communities/sub-castes/synonyms in the Central list and classify them into sub-categories, and "examine the inequitable distribution of benefits reservation among castes and communities included in the Central list of OBCs".

The commission will work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters for sub-categorisation.

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