Will the Yadavs take a cut in their quota lying down? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 December 2018 01:29
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Instead of winding down quotas, we fanned the flames, so difficult to see prominent OBCs cede their pole position


If the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh tables—in the state’s assembly—the Justice Raghvendra Kumar report on sub-categorisation of OBCs, chances are all hell with break loose. Justice Kumar’s four-member committee has looked at the current system of OBC reservation and concluded that the 27% quota has been cornered by a few dominant castes, and this needs to be changed; even prime minister Narendra Modi is in favour of sub-categorisation to ensure the most backwards amongst the OBCs get the benefit of reservations. While that is at the national level, states like Uttar Pradesh have their own commissions. The Justice Kumar committee, according to a report in The Times of India, has suggested that the 27% quota meant for OBCs be split up and, of this, just 7 percentage points (roughly a fourth) be given to powerful backward castes like Yadavs and Kurmis—Yadavs are the core base of the Samajwadi Party while Kurmis are the support base of BJP ally Apna Dal. While there may well be a case for this—the committee says both Yadavs and Kurmis are culturally, economically and politically powerful—the immediate issue is whether groups like the Yadavs and Kurmis will just roll over and let this happen or whether this will snowball into a larger conflict. To the extent reservations get you overpaid government jobs, no one wants to give up on them; and to the extent reservations get you college admission that is critical for higher salaries, no group is going to give that up easily.

There are other problems that come up if such sub-categorisation is to be attempted. In Maharashtra, for instance, the BJP government has just assured the politically powerful Marathas that they will be given reservations as they are socio-economically backward—it is a different matter that, in the past, various commissions have rejected this demand on the grounds that Marathas were a powerful community—and there are similar demands by politically and economically powerful groups like the Jats in Haryana or the Patels in Gujarat. If the BJP is going to pander to these groups, as it is, how does this square with the sub-categorisation to give more reservations to groups that are genuinely backward but don’t get the benefits of reservations?

Indeed, in even the case of SC/ST, while the government has been reluctant to bring in the concept of ‘creamy layer’, the fact is that not all SC/ST can be considered backward. According to data from PRICE that carries out income/expenditure surveys across the country, for instance, 7% of all SC households in the country earn more than `10 lakh per annum vs 9% for OBCs and 13% of SC households have at least one graduate in them vs 18% for OBCs—by no stretch of the imagination can these households be clubbed with other SC/ST households as downtrodden or lacking in opportunity. Since even the country’s founding fathers didn’t envisage reservations for eternity, ideally governments should have started winding it down decades ago, and this could have been done by restricting reservations by introducing progressively stricter creamy layer criterion, by introducing scholarships in place of reservations over time, etc. Since this was not done—indeed, the government pushed for increased reservations, such as in promotions, and tried to classify non-oppressed groups as OBCs—powerful castes grabbed the benefits; trying to evict them and pass on the benefits to the less fortunate is bound to be opposed, possibly even violently.



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