The Narendra Modi government’s decision to provide 10 per cent reservation to ‘economically backward’ upper castes is for all those communities/classes that do not come under the 50 per cent quota as mandated by the Supreme Court. The 50 per cent cap was set up in a 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Indra Sawhney case.
According to government sources, this 10 per cent reservation will apply for all communities, and caste is not going to be a criterion for eligibility. The quota will be applicable to economically backwards among Hindus, Muslims and Christians. This means that this new quota won’t affect the reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs.
So far, Scheduled castes, who constitute 20 per cent of the entire population in India, corner 15 per cent reservation in the government sector. Scheduled Tribes, who constitute 9 per cent of the population, are provided with 7.5 per cent reservation while communities in the Other Backward Caste corner the lion’s share of 27 per cent reservation.
Together, SCs, STs and OBCs, who constitute about 70 per cent of the population, are provided with 49.5 per cent reservation in the government sector. It is the rest 30 per cent or 39 crore, who fall under the general category, which will be eligible to avail the 10 per cent reservation announced by the Centre.
This category will be defined as families with income (includes agricultural income as well as from profession) below Rs 8 lakh per annum, possessing agricultural land below five acre and residential house below 1,000 square feet. As for urban areas, those with residential plot below 100 yards in notified municipality or residential plot below 200 yards in the non-notified municipal area will be considered for reservation.
Maharashtra accounts for maximum OBCs with 261 communities, while Karnataka has the most number of SCs at 101. With 62 different Scheduled Tribe communities, Odisha has the maximum number of STs.
For example, in Madhya Pradesh 87 per cent of the population belong to SCs (15.51 per cent), STs (21.1 per cent) and OBCs (50.39 per cent). The reservation tally stands at 16 per cent for SCs, 20 per cent for STs and 14 per cent for OBCs. Thus, it is the rest 13 per cent of the population who will benefit from the Centre’s recent reservation decision.