The Tamil Nadu government had earlier, too, opposed the Union government’s plan to include the salary of parents to determine the ‘creamy layer’ among the OBC category for reservations.

Stalin in his office
news Reservation Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 12:18

The DMK government has issued an order to all district collectors of Tamil Nadu, asking them to not take into account the agricultural income and wages of families from Other Backward Class (OBC) while issuing caste certificates. The order reinforces the Tamil Nadu government’s staunch opposition to the Union government’s plan to include agricultural income and salaries as part of ‘family income’ to determine the ‘creamy layer’ of the OBC community.

The new order states that the Tamil Nadu government has released the list of OBC caste groups as announced by the Union government. It also pointed out that the Union government has issued guidelines to exclude people falling under the ‘creamy layer’ (or socially advanced) from the OBC general quota reservations. However, the state government has announced that while calculating the parents’ income for separating the ‘creamy layer’ students, monthly salary and earnings through farming should not be factored in. 

Currently, the individuals from the OBC category are eligible for 27% reservation in civil posts and services and for admissions in educational institutions. These vacant posts are filled through direct recruitment. However, this is not applicable to the ‘creamy layer’ of the OBC category, which includes families that earn more than Rs 8 lakh per annum. The income limit is one of the criteria that the Union government has set to determine who is categorised as ‘creamy layer’ and excluded from reservations. 

Per the current rules, OBC families with an income of less than Rs 8 lakh per annum will be eligible for the reservations. Those with an annual income of Rs 8 lakh and above will not be eligible for the OBC benefits. This does not include revenue from agriculture or landholdings. Besides, persons from the OBC category holding Class-A positions in the government sectors are also included in the ‘creamy layer’ category. 

The income limit, which is revised every three years, was set at Rs 1 lakh per annum in 1993. It was last revised in 2017, from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh per annum. In February 2020, the Union government proposed raising the income ceiling from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh, and including all taxable salaries when calculating the annual income to determine the ‘creamy layer’ status, according to a report in the Print.

Last year, the Parliamentary standing committee on Welfare of Backward Classes had recommended raising the income ceiling for ‘creamy layer' of the OBC category to Rs 15 lakh. However, the Parliamentary panel, chaired by BJP MP Ganesh Singh, recommended excluding the salary and agricultural revenue while calculating the annual income. 

The previous AIADMK government as well as the current DMK government opposed using incomes to determine the ‘creamy layer.’ In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2020, MK Stalin had said that the economic factor was “against the spirit of reservation” and asked the Union government to retain Tamil Nadu’s existing policy (not factoring in income) on determining the ‘creamy layer’ of OBC as is.

In his letter, CM Stalin had also argued that including salary as part of income to determine the ‘creamy layer’ of OBC ignores the caste barriers that continue to exist for marginalised communities. Stalin highlighted that reservations were not about economic inequality but about social disadvantage. It is because of this, he wrote, that the economic factor never found a mention in our Constitution when it came to reservations.

Former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy, too, had argued that if salary and agricultural income of parents are considered as overall income of parents, it would deprive many deserving candidates of the OBC status and deny them reservation to government jobs and welfare schemed under the Union government.

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