OBCs or Other Backward Classes is the concept which was not actually present in the original Constitution of India which was created back in 1950 after Independence. The original Constitution of India only comprised the categorization of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and their reservations for a given time period to make sure about social justice. But in the year 1990, VP Singh executed a Mandal Recommendation by modifying the constitution and added a new category of reservation called Other Backward Class. Instead of taking necessary steps to eradicate the reservation system in India to give equal opportunities to all sections of society, VP Singh took this step and modified the constitution to add a new category of reservation, OBCs.
This was the 93rd amendment made in the Indian constitution by the Mr Singh government. The most interesting fact was that the reservation percentage for OBC and SC/ST was decided based on the 1931 census. In 1990 when the new category was added there were only 1200 communities in India that were classified as OBC and today the number has increased to 2300. So, rather than becoming a knowledge-based developed country, India is still struggling and considered as more and more backwards and the credit goes to the past and the present government.
What is Mandal Commission?
No discussion regarding the reservation system of India would be complete without mentioning the Great Mandal Commission.
As per the constitution of India, there was a provision for reservation and care for the backward classes. However, who falls under the category of OBC and how can they be determined was still confusing. So, in 1979, the Mandal Commission was formed with the focus to identify the socially and educationally backward classes in society.
Mandal Commission was led by the BP Mandal and the commission has submitted a report mentioning that about 52% of the population in India belongs to the OBCs and this report was based on the educational and social indicators and 11 economic that were used to recognize the backwardness. Based on the report, the reservation percentage of OBCs was decided as 27% and hence the final count of total reservations for OBCs, ST and SC were 49.5%.
In 1990, the VP Singh government decided to put in place the suggestions of the Mandal Commission. But they faced a huge protest mainly by the students of the nation. The primary face of the anti-Mandal commission was Rajiv Goswami who fought against the commission by immolating himself. Despite long protests across the country by students the reservations did came into effect by 1992. This was the year which marked a remarkable judgement – the case of Union of India and Indra Sawhney in 1992 where the Supreme Court decided a cap of 50% in the reservations.
How the 27% for OBCs were Fixed?
As per the Mandal Commission, the reservation quota for OBCs was fixed to 27% via a deductive technique. It also pointed that the reservations for ST and SC were already been fixed to 22.5% and SC has also made an earlier judgment to fix the norms of reservation for all categories up to a maximum cap of 50%, of which 27% would be reserved for the OBC class of people in India. The verdict was challenged and argued because the OBC population in India constituted about 52% and the figure seems to be reasonable.
However, the National Sample Survey 2000 has confirmed that OBC number has reduced and it constitutes only 37% of the total population. According to another survey in 1998, only 34% of the OBC population is there and this is close to NSS figure. These surveys have revealed the wide disparities amongst the OBCs and other forward castes in regards to income levels, education and employment. So, they justify some kind of affirmative action to fix quota needs.
Prior to the report of Mandal Commission, a battle was already started and moved to all states of India. Over 10 state governments already set their individual commission for OBCs and arbitrarily fixed their own percentage of this class of people. This significantly heightened their vote bank politics based on castes because all ruling parties went out of their way to woo OBCs for their vote bank.