The Union government, in order to bridge inequity in availing 27 per cent quota benefits among OBCs had formed a panel in October 2017. The commission was expected to submit its report within 12 weeks but it has got an extension after extension. The last extension provided to the panel was in last month of six months, as its work has been affected by the pandemic.
The final report is expected to be made public by the end of this calendar year but the preliminary findings of the panel are being reported by media houses. And these finding, shared by members of the panel themselves, are appalling.
As per one such report, just 40 of 5,000-6,000 castes categorized under Other Backward Classes (OBCs) have availed 50 per cent of the quota benefits. OBC quota, by the central government, was implemented in government jobs in 1993 and central government-funded educational institutions in 2006.
According to the panel’s findings, 20 per cent of the OBC communities, which means around 1,000 castes, availed no quota benefits between 2014 and 2018. According to members of the panel, sub-categorization of OBC quota is “urgent and inescapable”, given the level of inequities in availing quota benefits among various castes.
“The level of inequity is such that it makes the exercise of sub-categorisation among the OBCs urgent and inescapable,” said J.K. Bajaj, a member of the panel led by retired High Court Chief Justice G Rohini.
According to the panel, only a few castes were able to avail the benefits. The fact that the dominant castes corner all the benefits needs to be given a separate space to compete. “Currently, the different communities, irrespective of their backwardness, compete together for the 27 per cent reservation,” added Bajaj.
One of the reasons that the positive discrimination system, whether in OBC quota or SC/ST quota, has not been uplifting all the castes and communities included in the group, is that the dominant castes among these groups, like Yadavs in OBCs and Jatavs in SC, have cornered majority of the benefits, depriving thousands of other castes from the same.
Now, in order to ensure that all castes avail the benefits, the government is planning to break it into different bands. “Currently, all 2,633 OBC castes compete for the same 27% quota. The panel recommends breaking this up into three bands — those that have got no benefits should get 10%, those with some benefits 10%, and those with maximum benefits 7%,” reported Hindustan Times on sub-categorization of OBC quota.
The OBC quota, passed by VP Singh government in 1989 and implemented in 1993, altered the Indian politics forever. The OBC groups came to power in UP, Bihar and various other states. But, Yadav in OBC, Jatav in SC, and Meena in ST- these groups acquired political, social and economic capital, riding on newly implemented quota system while leaving other castes in the same group miles behind.