Published: 08th July 2020
Reservation is not a poverty alleviation scheme: OBC welfare group writes to PM against ‘creamy layer’ concept
Reservation is a right of representation; it is the constitutional right given to the historically discriminated backward classes, the Association wrote
The Centre’s announcement about it being all set to raise the ‘creamy layer’ ceiling to Rs 12 lakh has reignited conversations about the constitutionality of the concept of the ‘creamy layer’ — and how this would impact reservation in education and jobs. The All India Federation of OBC Employees’ Welfare Association is the latest organisation to call for the abolition of the ‘creamy layer’ concept.
“The argument that enhancement of income ceiling to Rs12 lakh including salary income will benefit the rural OBCs is illogical and against the spirit of social justice. Reservation is not a poverty alleviation scheme,” the General Secretary of the Association, G Karunanidhy wrote, in his letter to the Prime Minister, “Reservation is a right of representation; it is the constitutional right given to the historically discriminated backward classes, to have a participation in the decision-making process.”
“The data with Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) about the representation of OBCs in the top echelons of power will reveal that OBCs represent just one per cent and even zero in many Ministries as Secretaries and Joint Secretaries. Since Independence, not a single OBC had occupied the pivotal position of Cabinet Secretary. The provisions of Article 16 (4) to ensure adequate representation of backward classes has not yet been reached in any of the departments,” the General Secretary argues. He also accused the DoPt of not consulting the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Law Ministry, the National Commission for OBCs or any other parliamentary committee for the OBCs.
The activist writes that in February 2019, the Union Law Ministry had written to the Ministry of Social Justice and DoPT that salary” and “agricultural income” should not be included in the “Income/Wealth test” of OBCs whose parents work in PSUs and banks. He also points out that adhering to these stringent conditions could mean that the 27 percent reservations for OBC students would not be filled up. “The Social Justice Ministry instead of considering the recommendations of the report of the OBC Committee, constituted an Expert Committee headed by BP Sharma, former Secretary, DoPT. It is saddening to note that on such an important matter affecting the OBCs, Social Justice Ministry did not include a single OBC member in the Expert Committee. The BP Sharma Committee, in the name of streamlining and simplifying the concept of creamy layer, is poised for restriction of OBCs from availing the reservation benefits,” Karunanidhy said.
“Further, we strongly believe that there is a systematic design by some vested interests in the Government to overthrow the whole concept of 'social and educational backwardness' on the basis of which the OBCs are getting their constitutional right of reservation and replacing the term 'socially and educationally' backward classes with 'economic criterion' and thus equalising the historically discriminated Backward Classes with the 'economically weaker sections' among forward castes,” the letter said. The General Secretary invoked a report by an Expert Committee in 1993 that had clearly said - ‘Apprehension has been expressed, and rightly, that applying the rule of exclusion on the ground of social advancement may be counter-productive, in as much as by excluding those who have become capable of facing the competition for appointment in the services what will remain are those of the socially backward who are simply not equipped and ready to face the competition and this will have the effect of many of the reserved seats being left vacant.’
The letter makes these demands of the Prime Minister - that salary ‘income' and 'agriculture income' should not be taken into account for the income test to identify creamy layer among OBCs, the whole concept of creamy layer imposed on OBCs by the Court should be totally removed, suitable constitutional amendments be brought to safeguard the reservation policy for OBCs and the community should be listed as the SC, ST has been listed so the question of backwardness does not come up again. “We are sure that our Prime Minister, belonging to OBC community, would favourably consider our reasonable and genuine representation and render justice to the OBCs, who constitute the majority population of this country and remains unrepresented in the top echelons of power,” the Association requested.