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Extention of the OBC Commission

Published: 29th Jun, 2020

The Union Cabinet decided to extend the tenure of the OBC Commission by six months as its functioning was affected due to the coronavirus lockdown.


The Union Cabinet decided to extend the tenure of the OBC Commission by six months as its functioning was affected due to the coronavirus lockdown.


  • Constituted in October 2017, the Commission, headed by Justice G Rohini (retd), has interacted with all the states/UTs which have sub-categorised Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
  • The Commission was of the view that it would require some more time to submit its report since repetitions, ambiguities, inconsistencies and errors of spelling or transcription appearing in the existing Central List of OBCs need to be cleared.
  • It had, therefore, earlier sought extension of its term up to July 31 this year.
  • However, due to the nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission was not able to complete its task even during the extended time.
  • Therefore, the term of the Commission is being extended for a period of 6 more months i.e. up to 31 January 2021.
  • The communities in the existing OBC list that have not been able to get any major benefit of reservation -- in appointments on central government posts and in admissions in central educational institutions -- are expected to benefit once the recommendations of the Commission are implemented.
  • The Commission is likely to make recommendations for benefit of such marginalised communities in the Central List of OBCs.


Who are Other Backward Classes?

  • Communities that have been historically marginalised in India and continue to face oppression, and social, economic and educational isolation, but do not fall into the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes list, fall into the Other Backward Class category.
  • Article 340 of the Constitution of India gives the President of India the power to constitute a committee to investigate the conditions of backward class in India and recommend measures for their welfare, upliftment and development.
  • The Mandal Commission was constituted under this Article.

Mandal Commission

  • The Mandal Commission was constituted in 19978, under Article 34 of the Constitution to identify backward communities in India and recommend policy initiatives for their upliftment and welfare.
  • The Commission listed 11 criteria, falling under social, economic and educational categories, to identify and classify communities and Backward classes.

  • Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India which are applicable to the member of the Scheduled Caste communities, apply to the members of the OBC communities as well.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes places Backward Classes within the expression of the term ‘Scheduled Castes’.

Reservation for OBCs

  • Reservation Policy in India is a process of reserving certain percentage of seats (maximum 50%) for a certain class such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward classes, etc. in the public sector units, union and state civil services, union
    and state government departments and in all public and private educational institutions.

The current scenario of Reservation in India is:

  • 15% seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC).
  • 5% seats are reserved for Schedule tribes (ST).
  • 27% seats are reserved for Other backward classes (OBC).
  • Total constitutional reservation percentage is 49.5% and the rest 50.5% seats are open to all i.e. general, SC, ST And OBC.
  • Reservation for OBCs, unlike that for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, was not initially guaranteed in the Constitution — and extends only to jobs and education, not to elected representatives.
  • It draws its roots from the Mandal Commission, which was set up in 1979, and its recommendation for 27% OBC quota accepted by the central government in 1990.
  • In 2006, the reservation was extended to institutions of higher education.
  • Upper-caste students and anti-quota groups have long opposed reservations, but the protests have been especially fierce against the implementation of OBC quotas, both in 1990 and in 2006.
  • They argue that many OBC groups are upwardly mobile and socially dominant, don’t need state support in jobs and education, and that the presence of quotas hinders merit-based selection.
  • To be sure, economically well-off OBCs form what is known as a “creamy layer” — annual income of more than ~8 lakh — and are not eligible for quotas.

Creamy layer

  • The concept of 'creamy layer' was introduced by the Supreme Court in 1993 through the judgement it delivered in the Indira Sawhney case.
  • In its judgment, the top court ruled that the exclusion of such socially advanced members...will make the ‘class’ a truly backward class.”
  • After being introduced, the criterion of income has been periodically revised. In 2013, it was revised from Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh. In 2017 it was revised to Rs 8 lakh.
  • This means that any family in the Other Backward Sections (OBCs), which are entitled to 27% reservation in higher educational institutions and public sector employment, whose gross annual income is over Rs 8 lakh cannot avail of reservations.
  • The income criteria is usually reviewed every three years.

What is the need?

  • If someone belongs to a Scheduled Caste (SC) or a Scheduled Tribe (ST), he is listed among the 28 parameters, but there is no sub-category for OBC in its current format.
  • Currently, all 2,633 OBC castes compete for the same 27% quota. 25% of benefits from OBC reservations have been availed by only 10 sub-castes.
  • There are 983 sub-castes who have availed almost no benefits from reservations.
    • The communities that have got almost no benefits of reservations include profession-based castes such as Kalaigars, a community that traditionally polishes tins; and Sikligars and Saranias, communities that traditionally sharpen knives; apart from several other marginalised groups.
  • No Census published since then has ever counted OBCs. The next census, in 2021, is slated to count OBCs for the first time in 90 years.


The Commission's recommendations are expected to benefit the communities in the existing list of OBCs which have not been able to get "any major benefit of the scheme of reservation for OBCs for appointment in central government posts and for admission in central government educational institutions."


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