The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) has passed a resolution stating that destitute orphaned children should be included in the central list of Other Backward Classes (OBC). If implemented, this would be the first time that the central list of OBCs, which provides 27 per cent reservation in government schools and jobs, includes a group based on a criteria other than caste or community.
The decision was taken at a recent meeting chaired by NCBC head Justice V Eswaraiah. The affirmative action has been proposed for children who have lost their parents before reaching the age of 10, and are admitted to government-run or aided schools and orphanages, with no one to take care of them “either by law or custom”.
“We have communicated the decision to the Union Ministry of Social Justice, which will have to take the final call. This is in keeping with the recent Supreme Court judgement where the court noted that caste alone cannot be the yardstick for determining backwardness,” NCBC member Ashok Saini said.
The NCBC had first considered the inclusion of orphans in the central OBC list in May 2015. This was a couple of months after the Supreme Court, in the Ram Singh v/s Union of India case, quashed the Centre’s move to include Jats in the central OBC list. The NCBC’s resolution issued this week refers to that judgement, wherein the court held that “social groups which would be most deserving must necessarily be a matter of continuous evolution. New practices, methods and yardsticks have to be continuously evolved, moving away from caste centric definition of backwardness”.
The NCBC had written to all states asking for their opinion on the matter. Following this, the Telangana and Rajasthan governments included orphans in their state OBC list. In Madhya Pradesh, the state Backward Classes Commission recommended the inclusion, but was turned down by the state government.
“Tamil Nadu has been providing reservation for orphaned children under the state OBC list for the last three years. We want it to be included in the central OBC list for all states,” said NCBC member S K Kharventhan. It was Tamil Nadu that requested the Union government to consider including orphans and destitute children in the central OBC list so that reservations are ensured in central education institutions and civil posts and services.
The NCBC had earlier recommended that transgenders be given reservation under the existing 27 per cent quota meant for OBCs. The ministry’s initial draft transgender bill had recommended reservation for transgenders under OBC, a provision which was dropped following protests from existing OBC groups against such a move eating into their 27 per cent quota. When the Union Ministry for Social Justice introduced its Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill in Lok Sabha last month, it made no mention of giving OBC status to transgenders.