April 07, 2017

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Government to do away with weeding out 'forwards' among OBCs?

Written By Admin on Apr 7, 2017 | April 07, 2017

Government to do away with weeding out 'forwards' among OBCs?

The Constitution amendment bill proposing a new commission for OBCs may relieve the Centre of the nettlesome responsibility of weeding out "forwards among backwards" from availing reservations in central jobs and educational institutions. 

The 123rd Constitution amendment bill makes a radical departure from the National Commission for Backward Classes Act (1993) that it seeks to replace. 

A key provision of the NCBC Act that has been left out of the amendment bill pertains to "periodic revision of lists by the Central government". 

Listed as clause 11, it enjoins the government to undertake every 10 years a revision of the OBC list to exclude communities which "have ceased to be backward classes". 

Experts feel the omission is critical as it removes the only statutory clause which binds the government to exclude communities from the ambit of 27 per cent quotas. Crucially, no government has been able to purge the OBC list despite the passage of over 20 years of implementation of Mandal Commission report. 

The non-revision of OBC list came up for adverse observations from the Supreme Court at the height of the standoff over UP A-1's move to introduce Mandal quota in central educational institutions. 

Purging the OBC list is a politically sensitive subject loathed by political parties. Any bid to exclude the well-off OBCs from the ambit of quotas risks protests from "strong backwards", who have the political voice in the form of parties and also a strong voting muscle on the ground. 

The fear of backlash has been the reason behind governments staying away from enforcing the clause, it is widely believed. 

When Mandal completed 10 years in 2003, setting the stage for the decennial revision, the social justice ministry empowered the National Commission for Backward Classes to initiate the process but it proved a non-starter as states could not provide the commission with requisite data to determine which castes had advanced and were not backward any more. 

UPA-1 took the issue further but states demanded a fresh census to identify castes which had advanced, resulting in a deadlock. 

With UPA-2's 'socio-economic caste census' including a headcount of OBCs, it was felt the census will provide a complete profile of backwards - the basic criteria for a purge of the OBC list. 

But with the Narendra Modi government not moving on processing the caste data of SECC, the purge does not appear to be a possibility. And a removal of the binding clause for exclusion would only help the Centre in staying clear of the tricky issue. 

A key provision of the NCBC Act that has been left out of the amendment bill pertains to 'periodic revision of lists by the central government'. Experts feel the omission is critical as it removes the only statutory clause which binds the government to exclude communities from the ambit of 27 per cent quotas.


Source : The Economic Times
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