Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Explained: Sub-categorizing OBCs


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Justice Rohini Commission, Creamy Layer, Mandal Commission

Mains level: Subcategorization within OBCs

The Centre has extended the tenure of The Commission to Examine Sub-categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) headed by Justice G Rohini, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court.

Why in news?

  • The Commission, constituted nearly five years ago, has got 10 extensions so far.
  • It now has a deadline until January 31 next year to submit its report.

Who are the OBCs?

  • Other Backward Class is a collective term used to classify castes which are educationally or socially disadvantaged.
  • It is one of several official classifications of the population of India, along with General Class, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs).
  • The OBCs were found to comprise 55% of the country’s population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, and were determined to be 41% in 2006.

What is the Sub-Categorization of OBCs?

  • The idea is to create sub-categories within the larger group of OBCs for the purpose of reservation.
  • OBCs are granted 27% reservation in jobs and education under the central government.
  • This has been a legal debate for other reservation categories too.
  • In September last year, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the debate on sub-categorization of SCs and STs for reservations.

Establishment of Rohini Commission

  • Only a few affluent communities among the over 2,600 included in the Central List of OBCs have secured a major part of the reservation.
  • Sub-categories within OBCs would ensure equitable distribution” of representation among all OBC communities.
  • It was to examine this that the Rohini Commission was constituted on October 2, 2017.

What is the Commission’s brief?

It was originally set up with three terms of reference:

  1. To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of OBCs
  2. To work out for a scientific approach for sub-categorization within such OBCs
  3. To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs
  4. To study the various entries in the Central List of OBCs and recommend correction of any repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription.

When was it meant to submit its report?

  • At the time it was set up, the Commission was given 12 weeks to submit its report, but has since been given 10 extensions.
  • There is a lot of work to be done.
  • The NCBC until December 2020, over Rs 1.92 crore had been spent on the Commission including salary, consultant fees and other expenses.

What progress has it made so far?

  • The Commission is ready with the draft report on sub-categorization.
  • Among the challenges it has faced, one has been the absence of data for the population of various communities to compare with their representation in jobs and admissions.
  • The Commission proposed for a all-India survey to estimate caste-wise population of OBCs.
  • Since then the government has been silent on this, whereas groups of OBCs have been demanding enumeration of OBCs in the Census.

What have its findings been so far?

  • In 2018, the Commission analysed the data of 1.3 lakh central jobs given under OBC quota over the preceding five years.
  • It examined OBC admissions to central higher education institutions, including universities, IITs, NITs, IIMs and AIIMS, over the preceding three years.

The findings were:

  1. 97% of all jobs and educational seats have gone to just 25% of all sub-castes classified as OBCs;
  2. 95% of these jobs and seats have gone to just 10 OBC communities;
  3. 983 OBC communities — 37% of the total — have zero representation in jobs and educational institutions;
  4. 994 OBC sub-castes have a total representation of only 2.68% in recruitment and admissions.


  • Thus it is visible that a small chunk of communities is enjoying almost the entire OBC reservation.
  • Hence it is a cause of worry and needs due cognizance at a larger level.


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