Distinction between OBCs and SCs
- The yardsticks for recognising specific castes as SC and OBC are distinct.
- While extreme social, educational and economic backwardness are common qualifications for both groups, SCs draw such backwardness from untouchability.
- For OBCs, apart from social, educational and economic backwardness, lack of adequate representation in government posts and services is a criterion.
- The positive rights guaranteed under the Constitution to SCs are to correct the historical wrongs of untouchability, and critics argue that addition of other castes in the group dilutes that guarantee.
- The name ‘Scheduled Caste’ derives from the fact that this is annexed as a Schedule to the Constitution.
- The Constitution of India provides certain privileges/concessions to the members of Scheduled Castes which are notified under the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution.
- The first list of Scheduled Castes in relation to a State or Union Territory is to be issued by a notified Order of the President after having consultation with the State Government concerned.
- Any subsequent inclusion in or exclusion from the list of Scheduled Castes can be effected through an Act of Parliament as envisaged under clause (2) of Article 341.
- Process: The State governments first propose to modify the Schedule. Only proposals agreed by both the Registrar General of India and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes are introduced as a Bill in Parliament. This procedure was adopted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 1999 and was amended in 2002.
- A similar provision exists for Scheduled Tribes under Article 342.
- These 17 castes are socially most backward, and many survive on small occupations in rural areas. For example, Nishads earn from fishing and Kumhars from making earthen pots.
- According to an estimate by the UP Backward Classes Welfare Department, these 17 castes make up around 15% of the state’s population. A caste in the SC list gets more government benefits than one in the OBC list.
- Also, since the OBC population is large, there is close competition among OBC groups for reservation benefits. If these 17 castes are moved to the list of SCs, it will leave greater space in the OBC quota for the remaining OBC caste groups.
- However, SC groups fear that such a move might impact their quota as the new entrants will consume their share if the reservation limit is not expanded.