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Other backward class

The meaning of «other backward class»

Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India 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 52% of the country's population by the Mandal Commission report of 1980, and were determined to be 41% in 2006 when the National Sample Survey Organisation took place.[1][2][3] There is substantial debate over the exact number of OBCs in India; it is generally estimated to be sizable, but many believe that it is higher than the figures quoted by either the Mandal Commission or the National Sample Survey.[4]

In the Indian Constitution, OBCs are described as socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC), and the Government of India is enjoined to ensure their social and educational development — for example, the OBCs are entitled to 27% reservations in public sector employment and higher education. The list of OBCs maintained by the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is dynamic, with castes and communities being added or removed depending on social, educational and economic factors. In a reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Union Minister Jitendra Singh informed that as in January 2016, the percentage of OBCs in central government services is 21.57% and has shown an increasing trend since September, 1993.[5] Likewise, in 2015, at educational institutes, funds meant for OBC students under the reservation policy were not used properly or were underused in cases of upgrading infrastructure as well as in violation of faculty recruitment of OBCs according to the 49% reservation policy.[6]

Until 1985, the affairs of the Backward Classes were looked after by the Backward Classes Cell in the Ministry of Home Affairs. A separate Ministry of Welfare was established in 1985 (renamed in 1998 to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) to attend to matters relating to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs.[7] The Backward Classes Division of the Ministry looks after the policy, planning and implementation of programmes relating to social and economic empowerment of OBCs, and matters relating to two institutions set up for the welfare of OBCs, the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation and the National Commission for Backward Classes.

Under Article 340 of the Indian Constitution, it is obligatory for the government to promote the welfare of the OBCs.

The president may by order appoint a commission consisting of such persons as he thinks fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties and as to improve their condition and as to the grants that should be made, and the order appointing such commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the commission. ... A commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendation as they think proper.

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