Modi government has decided to put on hold a proposal aimed at rewriting the formula for the creamy layer of Other Backward Classes (OBC). The ruling comes just a few weeks before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
According to government sources, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment proposed increasing the income limit — the annual income under which one is eligible for quota — for determining the ‘creamy layer’ to Rs 12 lakh from the current Rs 8 lakh, based on a report submitted by an expert committee formed under former Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, B.P. Sharma.
According to the sources, it had also advocated including salary earnings in the gross yearly income used to establish a candidate’s eligibility for quota.
Salaries are not currently factored into the income computation. “The expert committee felt that this is discriminatory and gives an unfair advantage to the salaried groups, particularly government officials,” a senior government official stated.
A Cabinet note for this was relocated in February, according to another source. However, the administration has chosen to conduct a more thorough investigation into the situation, and thus the suggestion was returned to the social justice ministry last month, according to the source.
“Though the poorer sections would undoubtedly benefit from the changes (with the increase in the limit to Rs 12 lakh, more people will come within the ambit of reservation), there has been opposition from government employees in the B and C categories, who may be affected by the provisions (by including salaries in the calculation of income, many may cross over into the creamy layer and be deprived of quota),” the source said.
“The Cabinet proposal has been returned and will be resubmitted once the government has made a decision.”
OBCs get a 27% reservation in government jobs and entrance to government-funded educational institutions. The creamy layer, on the other hand, is not eligible for such advantages.
An OBC household having an annual income of Rs 8 lakh or more is classified as belonging to the ‘creamy layer’ under existing standards.
The proposal’s reappearance comes at a time when the administration is already under fire from the Opposition and some of its supporters over the subject of a caste-based census.
The government ruled out a caste census in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in September 2021, claiming that it would be time-consuming and operationally challenging.
With assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh scheduled for early next year, the Opposition has made a caste census a key issue.
According to a source, with the UP elections just around the corner, the government does not want to bring up another issue at such a delicate time.