Increasing Demand for other backward caste (OBC) status : Important Topics for UPSC Exams

Increasing Demand for other backward caste (OBC) status : Important Topics for UPSC Exams


  • In recent times demand for other backward caste (OBC) status by various communities such as Patidars, Kapus, Jats, and Marathas have increased.

  • This demand reflects the challenges they are facing in getting job.

  • The rationale behind introduction of reservation system in India was to address historical injustice & inequalities and bring the socially and educationally backward classes into mainstream.

  • States are empowered under Article 15 and 16 for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes.

Why the demand is increasing reservation

  • Communities such as Patidars, Jats, Marathas claims for Reservation on ground of inadequate representation in Government Jobs

  • These demanding communities such as Patidars and Jats are traditionally agricultural community

  • But with decline in the probability of owning or cultivating land increasing uncertainty in the agrarian sector, they are seeking non-agricultural jobs, especially government jobs for which they demand OBC status.

  • The Indian economy is not creating many jobs which in creating tough competition in job market

  • Wages in the private sector are much lower than in the public sector.

  • Salaries of government jobs are mostly attractive at entry-level.

  • Unskilled population and increasing attrition in private sector.

Arguments for reservation

  • Promotes equality :Due to historical negligence caste based reservation are necessary in India. Reservation is a policy tool that promotes equality rather than undermines it.

  • Level playing field :Reservation helps in level playing field because we cannot expect groups who are historically deprived of education, skills, and economic mobility to suddenly start competing with those who had access to these means for centuries

  • Access to their fair share of society's resources:When people from all social groups are represented in government, higher education etc, it is less likely that marginalized groups will be denied fundamental rights and access to their fair share of society's resources.

  • Reduced the gap between upper and lower castes :Though Meritocracy is an important aspect, it has no meaning without equality. To a great extent caste based reservation reduced the gap between upper and lower castes.

Arguments against reservation

  • Equal footing: On one hand many people from lower castes have stepped up the social ladder and are now on an equal footing with the ‘general' population and on other hand, many upper castes are still suffering from poverty and illiteracy.

  • Harmful to economic structure :Reservation system can harm the economic structure of the country as it could bring down the efficiency of its labour.

  • Communal riots :Caste based reservation may develop into communal riot as a result of frustration of general population on lower caste.

  • Needy people not getting benefit of reservation: it is found that many times economically well off people enjoy the benefits of reservation, leaving aside real needy people.

  • Court argument: In Ashok Kumar Thakur v. Union of India, Justice Ravindran opined that when more people aspire for backwardness instead of forwardness, the Country itself stagnates.

  • Misused by Political parties : political parties have misused the tool of reservation for their vested interests which has hampered the real objective of granting reservation

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Negative implication of extending reservation to demanding community

  • Other communities will too demand:If Government starts entertaining the caste like Jats, Kapus, Patel and Maratha, then on the same line other caste people will start agitation for reservation.

  • Neglect of merit: It will lead to neglect of merit and it may cause social unrest as it was at the time of Mandal commission.

  • Deprivation of lower caste: providing reservations to the well off communities may deprive Low caste members of the Government jobs, where their numbers are very low.

  • Unethical: Many in the above communities are politically and economically strong enough and placing the whole community under the reservation system will be unethical.

Way forward

  • Balanced decision :The government should consider the economic, political and social wellbeing of the community and make a balanced decision.

  • Scale up the educational and employment opportunities :Government needs to scale up the educational and employment opportunities both in private and public sector to avoid conflict between different communities.

  • Prevent concentration of benefit:progressive steps should be taken to ensure that poorer section among the backward communities get the benefit of reservation system and it is not concentrated to elite few within the community.

  • Government schemes and programmes: Problems of these castes should be addressed through government schemes and programmes such as Imparting skills and training through standup India, Student Startup Policy, etc


1. Consider the following options

  1. Creamy layer and non -creamy layer distinction for purpose of reservation is applicable for only SCs & STs

  2. Reservation for OBCs is in place since January 26,1950.

Which of the statement(s) is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Correct answer: d


2. Creamy Layer’ rules excluding the better off members of a caste from benefit of reservation was first laid down in the case of

  1. Ashok Kumar Thakur Vs. State of Bihar

  2. Minerva Mills Vs. Union of India

  3. Indra Sawhney Vs. Union of India

  4. Maneka Gandhi Vs. Union of India


Civil Services Mains Examination

In recent years, dominant castes in India are agitating for getting Other Backward Classes (OBC) status. Critically examine the reason for the growing demand and suggest solution to tackle the same.

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