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Union Cabinet raises ceiling on OBC creamy layer

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-08-2017 Anuja

New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Wednesday raised the ceiling for the so-called “creamy layer” among the other backward classes (OBCs) and pledged to earmark more categories for availing reservation benefits in the norms.

The move could potentially benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which heads the Union government. By enhancing the ceiling of the creamy layer annual income criteria to Rs8 lakh from the existing Rs6 lakh it has made more people eligible for reservation benefits. Promising sub-categorization within the OBCs could dilute the benefits currently cornered by dominant caste groups like the Yadavs.

In short it has the potential to rewrite caste politics, particularly in northern India.

“Under Article 340 we will request the President to set up a committee to make sub-categorization within the OBC list for the purpose of central government employment. The National Commission for Backward Classes had given a similar proposal in 2011,” Union finance minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

“The Commission shall submit its report within 12 weeks from the date of appointment of the chairperson of the Commission,” said an official release.

This Commission will “examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation” among OBCs in the central list, to evolve “mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters, in a scientific approach, for sub-categorization” and to identify and classify such castes/communities and sub-castes into their respective sub-categories.

“BJP’s master stroke has been to undo the Mandal-Kamandal divide that was created after the Mandal Commission was set up. The party has now come full circle as it had earlier supported Kamandal politics and is now on the side of Mandal,” said A.K. Verma, a political science professor at Christ Church College in Kanpur.

“The Mandal Commission had put the OBCs into one homogenous category and the BJP is trying to fix that. It is a welcome step as it will ensure fair play at the national level,” he added.

In the recent past the BJP has electorally focussed on non-dominant OBC sub-castes in key states. For instance, in the Uttar Pradesh elections, it gave a sizeable chunk of tickets to non-Yadav OBCs with an attempt to give political prominence to them.

The creamy layer announcement is to allow more people to be eligible to avail of the 27% reservation benefits in government jobs and educational institutions.

anuja@livemint.com

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