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Who Are the Other Backward Classes?

: An Introduction to a Constitutional Puzzle Author(s): Marc Galanter Reviewed work(s): Source: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 13, No. 43/44 (Oct. 28, 1978), pp. 1812-1828 Published by: Economic and Political Weekly Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4367065 . Accessed: 10/09/2012 02:35
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An Introduction to a Constitutional Puzzle

Marc Galanter In view of the recent upsurge of interest in Other BackwardClasses, it mny be timely to reflect on how this term became a category for public po!icy in India and what its possible meaning is. The question of who were the Schedu'ed Castes was debated and roughly settled before Independence within the executive and without the participationof the courts. But who are the Backward Classes is a post-Independence question which the constitutionalrecognitionof the category made one of all-India scope. The Corstitution left the matter with the execUtiveat the .Statelevel uith an option tor the Centre to unify it. When the executive at the Centre first failed and then declined to provide a resolution, teverted to the states. the question1 In the wake of the Janata victory in The1977 elections, the Backward Classes returned to the niationalpolitical agen.da. Pursuant to its electoral promnise,the Janata government appeared I oised to appoint a new BackwardClasses Commission,but had not done so by mid-1978. The UP and Bihar governments, zinder Janata control, enlarged su).:tantially the pr.ferences for Other BackwardClasses, leading to massive violence in Bihar and political intervention bq the Centre.
During the hiatus of Central involvement, what the statos did was invreasikzglysubjected to the

examination of the courts. It has heen the Supreme Court rather than the Central governtmenzt which has been the unifying and limiting itnfluenceand presumably any new Central I^olicy will be shaped in-the light of two decades of judicial predominancein this area.
THE Constitution of India authorises special preferential treatment not only for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but for "other socially and educationally backward classes". Just who these groups are, how they are to be selected, and what measures the government may take on their behalf are matters surrounded by some uncertainty. In view of the recent upsurge of interest in Other Backward Classes, it may be timely to reflect on how this term became a category for public policy in India and what its possible meaning is. As an introduction to such discussion, I would like to present some material drawn from a forthcoming book about the Indian experience with protective or compensatory discrimination. This paper does not attempt to analyse the judicial treatment of the concept, but to sketch he shifting career of the Backward Classes category. The reader will find some gaps in the story. Anyone who has evr tried to gather Information about Backward Classes will appreciate just how elusive ft can be. Any help in filling the gaps or correcting errors would be most welcome. The Other Backward Classes for nor is any exclusive method or agency for their designation provided. For all the uncertainty surrounding the term "Scheduled Castes" (and its predecessor "Depressed Classes") its central purpose is clear - to identify the victims of "untouchability".At the time of Independence, the term "Backward Classes" had a less fixed and definite reference. The term had been around fo- some time.1 but it had a variety of referents, it had shifted rapidly in meaning and had come to mean different things in different places. For purposes of tracing these varied meanings in the following discussion, we may portray some of the variety of meanings in schematic form in the Figure. In 1917 the Maharaja of Kolhapur recounted to Montagu that he had "been taking very keen interest... in uplifting the Backward Classes ard especially the untouchables".2 [Denotation 3?]. Soon after, the term appears in the terms of reference of the Southborough Committee, which was to advise on measures to secure representation of "minorities, of special interests, or of backward classes".3 But the Committee did not mention any such groups in its report, other than Dep-essed Classes. whom preferentialtreatmentis autho- [Denotation 1?]. The Joint Select Comrised are not defined in the ConstitutSon,mittee of the British Parliament which reviewed the Southborough Report mentioned in passi;.g the importance they attached to "the educational advancement of the depressed and backward classes".4 There is no indication that the term was meant to include anyone besides the depressed classes. [Denotationl? 2?]. "Backward Classes" first acquired a technical meaning in the princely state of Mysore. In 1918, the Mysore Government appointed a committee to enquire into the question of encouraging members of the "backward communities" in Public Service.5 In 1921, preferential recruitment of "backward communities" was instituited an(d they were defined as "all commun.ities other than Brahmins, who are not now adequately-represented in the public service".6 [Denotation 9]. The Reforms Enquiry Commission (1924) did not find occasion to use the term, but the Ministry Report refers to its use as a synonym for the Depressed Classes (untouchables) and in contradistinction to "r.on-Brahmins".7[Denotation 1]. Although "Non-Brabmin" and "Maratha" were much more frequlently uised in the setting of the Bombay "NonBrabmin" Moveme-t of the 1920s the Backward Classes rubric, was employed





/ 11

inltennedl- ts

iediI es

Untouch/boriginals, rir '10riminal 14onhds, etc.



As a synonym

for Depressed

Classes, untouchables,

Scheduled Castes.

(2) As comprising the untouchables, aboriginal and hill tribes, criminal tribes,' etc. (3) As comprising all communities deserving special treatment, namely those included in (2) above and in addition the lower strata of notn-untouchable communities. (4) As comprising all non-tribal (Hindu) communities deserving special treA.tment. (5) As comprising all communities deserving special treatment except the untouchables. (6) As comprising the lower strata of non-untouchal;le commnunities. (7) As comprising all communities above the untouchables but below the most "advanced" communities. (8) As comprising the non-untouchable communities who were "backward" in comparison to the bigaest castes. (9) As comprising all communities other than the highest or most advanced. (10) As comprising all persons who meet given non-communal tests of backwardness (e g, low incomne). Note: This diagram portrays varying usages, of which examples are given in the text below. Exact specifications may differ along other dimensions as well - e g, whether non-Hindus are included, whether prosperous fainilies within these groups are excluded, etc. both popularly and officially in a broad meaning, somewhat akin to that in Mysore.8 In 1925, a Government Resolution defined Bockward Classes as all except Brabmins, Prabhus, Marwaris, Parsis, Banias and Christians.9 [Denotation 9?]. Reservations in government service were provided for this group. The Hartog Committee (1928) defined Backward Classes in their glossary: Castes or classes which are educationally backward. They include the depressed classes, aboriginals, hill tribes, and criminal tribes.10 [Denotation 21. In 1929 the Indian Central Committee distinguished the problem of the "'backward classes', among whom may be counted aboriginals, criminal tribes and others among the less advanced of the inhabitants of British India"." [Denotation 5] Apparently the Committee not only excludes the Depressed Classes but includes in addition to tribals, some strata of the caste population, for they mention an estimate of sixteen million backward classes in UP (excluding the untouchables).12 But the category is not used as expansively as, the Mysore or earlier Bombay usage, for it did not include the Madras non-Brahmins or Marhattas in Bombay who were discussed separately.13 The term could not have been a familiar one for the Report finds it necessary to distinguish Backward Classes from untouchables several times. In a separate note, M C Rajah, an untouchable spokesman, mentions Backward Classes only as a confusing synonym for Depressed Classes.14 [Denotation 1]. In 1930 the Starte Committee in Bombay devoted careful consideration to the question of nomenclature. It noted that in 1924, the term Depressed Classes had been accorded a wider meaning to include aboriginal tribes and the Criminal Tribes and some other wandering
arld backward

had] resulted in much confusion of thought in this Presidency, as in or-




dinary usage the phrase Depressed Classes is taken as.rjmeaningthe untouchables .... whereas they do not form half of this new and enlarged grouping of Depressed Classes.u The Committee recommended that "Depressed Classes" should be used in the sense of untouchables. a usage which "will coincide with existing common practice".'6 It proposed that the wider group should be called "Backward Classes", [Denotation 31 which should be subdivided into: Depressed Classes (i e, untouchables). Aboriginal and Hill Tribes. Other Backward Classes (including wandering tribes). It noted that the groups then currently called Backward Classes [Denotation 8] should be renamed "intermnediate classes".17 tn addition to 36 Depressed Classes (approximate 1921 population 1.475 million) and 24 Aboriginal and Hill Tribes (approximate 1921 population 1.323 million), it listed 94 Other Backward C asses (approximate 1921 population 1.041 million).18 [Denota-

October 28, 1978

tationi 6].

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WE1FKLY they preseinted to the Madras Covernment in 1944, the Backward Classes comprised more than a hundred communities with about 25 million people (more than two-thirds of the nonBrahmin category and 50 per cent of the total population of the Presiden[Denotation 6]. In November cy).26 1947, separate reservations in the Madras services were provided for these "Backward Hindus".27 In the meantime, the Objectives Resolution ,of the Constituent Assembly, moved by Jawabarlal Nehru on December 13, 1946, bad resolved to provide adequate safegurads for "minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes".25 [Denotation 5? 6?]. Thus, the term had never acquired a definite meaning at the all-India level. There had been no attempt to define it or employ it on the national level and there were no nationwide backward classes' organisations or spokesmen. It bad definite meanings in local contexts, although these differed somewhat. After the listing of Scheduled Castes, the usage as a synonym for untouchables [Denotation 1] drops away. Two major species of usage inclusive emerge: (1) as the more group of all those who need special treatment. [Denotations 3, 9]; (2) as a stratum higher than the untouchables but nonetheless depressed [Denotations 6, 71. This double usage continues usage of today: the former in the Backward Classes in the wide sense (including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes); the latter in the 'usage as equivalent to "Other Backward Classes". It is with the latter that we are now concerned here. By the time of the Constituent Assembly the usage of the term "Backward Classes" to refer to some larger or smaller portion of the population deserving of special treatment was familiar in many parts of the country. In the Assembly, delegates from the north expressed puzzlement at the provisions for "Backward Classes" (in what came to be Article 16[4]). It struck them as vague and some thought it was meant merely as a synonym for the Scheduled Castes,29 while others were concerned that it miglht mean more.30 But representatives from Madras, Mysore and Bombay assured their colleagues that Backward Classes was a distinct term with a technical meaning. Examples were given of Mysore wbere Backward Classes included all but Brahmins,31 of Madras where it referred to a stratum of noncastes,32 and to untouchable Hindu Bombay where it included not only Tribes but and Scheduled Castes others who are economically, educationally, and socially backward.33 A representative from Bihar (which had the most active Backward Classes movement in the north) explained that Backward Classes were a section of society between the highest castes and the Scheduled Castes: 'the third [section] occupying the middle position ... and consisting, of a large portion of our people is what may be termed the Backward Class.... No doubt they are not treated as untouchables."34 K M Munshi assured the house that the term would include the Scheduled Castes, when doubts were expressed, and explained that it was "necessary to find a generic term". "It signifies people - touchable or untouchable, belonging to this community or that who are so backward that special protection is required in the services."35 Although one speaker pJointed out that classes were not necessarily castes and that literacy might be the test generally of backwardness,36 it was envisioned that the backward classes would be communities. When asked what is a backward community, Ambedkar, defending the draft, explained ...we have left it be determined by each local government. A backward community is a community which is backward in the opinion of the Covernment.37 However, the matter was not as clear as this suggests. The most prophetic Krishnamachari's statment was T T prediction that the clause would be "a paradise for lawyers".38 It was anticipated, then, that the backward classes other than the Sche*duled Castes and Tribes, were to be designated at the local level. The delegation to local authorities undoubtedly reflected an acceptance (at least temporarily) of the divergence of existing practices, a desire to preserve flexibility, and an awareness of the difficulties of prescribing universally applicable tests of backwardness in view of the varying local conditions. It may also have been presumed that "Backward Classes" were sufficiently potent politically to look out for their own interests on a local level, and, unlike Scheduled Castes and Tribes, central control of their designation was not~

The Simnon Commission, though it refers to "intermediate castes", and takes note of the non-Brahmin movement, makes no mention of Backward Classes.19 But shortly after, in the early 1930s we find a flowering of the term. In the hearings held by the Indian Franchise Committee in the United Provinces, the term recurs in the testimony in a number of significations. Thus a note by S S Nehru, ICS, presents a list of Depressed Classes of which portions are designated "Vagrant Tribes" and "Backward Classes".20 [Denotation 6]. Presumably these are the groups who least fit the "untouchability" criterion. However the memorandum of Pandit Sheokaran Nath Misra (Deputy Collector of Fyzabad) suggests that "depressed classes should include untouchables as well as backward classes". He equated depressed classes roughly with all Sudras excepting Kayasthas.21 [Denotation 4]. The United Provinces Hindu Backward Classes League (founded in 1929) submitted a memorandum which suggested that the term "Depressed" carried a connotation "of untouchability in the sense of causing pollution by touch as in the case of Madras and Bombay" and that many communities were reluctant to identify themselves as depressed. The League suggested the term "Hindu Backward" as a more suitable nomenclature.22 The list of 115 castes submitted included all candidates for the untouchable category as well as a stratum above. [Denotation 4]. "All of the [listed] communities belong to non-Dwijas or degenerate or Sudra classes of the Hindus". They were described as low socially, educationally and economically and said to number over 60 per cent of the population.23 This inclusive usage was adopted elsewhere. Travancore in 1937 abandoned the Depressed Classes nomenclature and substituted the term "Backward Communities" to include all educationally and economically backward communities.24 [Denotation 31. However, in Madras and elsewhere the term "Backward Classes" was used to refer to the strata above the untouchables.2-5 The Madras Provincial Backward Classes League, consisting of the less forward non-Brahmin communities was founded in 1934 for the purpose of securing separate treatment from "the forward non-Brahmin communities". According to the list



October 28, 1978 1951-52

Expenditure, 1953-54 (lakhs)


Education: Fee Concessions, Stipends, Training Facilities, etc. X X X 0 X 0 0 X X 0 X 0 X 0 X X 0 0 0 X 0 0 0 0 X

ReserOther vations in Welfare Educational Insts.

Recruitments to Government Posts

Expenditure, 1951-52 (lakhs)

Andhra Assam Bihar Bombay Madhya Pradesh Madras Orissa Punjab UP West Bengal Hyderabad Madhya Pradesh Mysore Pepsu Rajasthan Saurashtra Trav-Cochin Ajmer Bhopal Bilaspur Coorg Delhi Himachal Pr Kutch Manipur Tripura Vindhya Pr. Central Gvt

0 0 X 0 X 0 0 8 0 0 ? 0 0 0 ? 0 0 0 X 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 X 0 X 0 0 0 0 X X 0 0 0 ? 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X7

0 0 X 0 X 0 0 0 0 0 X 0 0 X X 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

18.04 6.22 24.95 0 13.04 0 0 4.75 NA 36.27 ? 0 .29 0 ? 0 .05 ? NA NA 3.47 NA NA 0 N. A.

4.33 2.49 10.26 50.15 .77 41.25 0 0 6.29 5.86 1.70 0 9.14 0 NA 6.44 8.71 0 .05 NA .06 NA NA 3.7 NA NA NA

Note:. * OBC lumped together with SC and ST.

Source: This Table is a composite of information found in RCSCST 1952: 202 205 with introductory chapters X, XI. The 1953-54 expenditures are taken from I BCC 146.

ed 1951 Census enumeration, based in part on the existing state lists, counmed 67 millions (18.9 per cent of the total population).46 The Planning Commission in July 1951 estimated that Other Backward Classes were approximately 20 per cent of the population,47 but in late 1952 noted that "these other backward classes ... are believed to number about [54.6 millions]".48 Other observers predicted a smaller list,49 but the President in his address to the inaugural meeting of the Backward Classes Commission is reported to have mentioned the figure of 70 millions.50 A pair of Supreme Court decisions in April 1951 shattered the legal foundation of the system of communal quotas which prevailed in South India. State of Madras v Champakam Dorairajan, struck down Madras' reservations in educational institutions and by implication barred all preferential treatment outside the area of goveminent employment."1 Venkataramana, State v of Madras struck down Madras' quotas itn government posts for all groups other than the Scheduled Castes and "Backward Hindus", confining potential recipients to those who could qualify as the "backward classes" mentioned in Article 16(4).52'These decisions

Classes category. Several states created such a category for the first time and,40 of those who already had it, several expanded the benefits conferred upon the Backward Classes. The Central government was pressed to extend its scheme of post-matriculation scholarships to the Other Backward Classes,41 and, when it did so, it compiled lists of Backward Classes in each state for this purpose.42 Backward Classes' organisations emerged;43 a national federation was formed.44 No special central machinery for suApart from the Central scholarships. pervision of programmes for backward provisions for Other Backward Classes classes is provided in the Constitution, roughly followed a regional pattern as but Article 338 (3) provides that the indicated by Table 1. In South India Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and and in Bombay, provisions for Other Tribes shall include in bis duties such Backward Classes flourished. In the other groups as the President may north, there were mostly a scatter ot specify on receipt of the report of the educational concessions and many states Backward Classes Commission. It is did not have any lists at all (other than not clear from the text that this Pre- those compiled for purposes of the sidential specification was meant to be Central post-matriculation scholarship exclusive. scheme). It remained unclear just how many Even before the Constitution came into force there was a great expansion people were included in the Backward in the employn-ent of the Backward Classes category.45 The never-completrequired to ensure the inclusion of the deserving. However the Central government was not entirely excluded from the process. The President is instructed to appoint a Backward Classes Commission. to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes .... 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 to improve their condition.. .39

caused a political furore in South In-' dia and occasioned the prompt addition of Article 15(4) to the Constitution.53 The debate over the amendment centered on the desirability of providing educational preferences to the Backward Classes, and it' revolved in part around the question of who were the backard classes.54 Although the Scheduled Castes and Tribes were equally discornfited lby Champakam Dorai;'ajan and presumbly equally concerned with educational preferences, there was little mention of them in parliament. The question worrying the house was the identity of Backward Classes, and the possible abuse of the new provision by advanced groups. In an attempt to confine the possible medning of Backward Classes, the wording of Article 15(4) was keyed to that of Article 340,55 which provided that the not yet established Backward Classes Commission should list the "socially and educationally backward classes of citizens". Some speakers drew assurances from the notion that the listing by the Commission and subsequent presidential speefiScation would be determinative.5O 1815

October 28, 1978


ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY whose backwardness there was some assurance. In spite of some unflattering observations about that judgment, there was nothing in the proceedings to indicate that Parliament sought to overturn it.61
410 pq CZ CUX O c 000'O C? c'

State 1951 Census

Backward Classes Commission


it was seen as the



ASSam Bihar BOmbaY MadhYaPradeSh MadraS and

90.44 402.26 359.56 212.48 570.16 146.46 126.41 632.16 248.10

18.84 62.76 44.90 66.48 197.16 41.73 NA 41.51 13.59 94.13 13.68 174.53 NA 32.16 15.78 4.16 . 35 1.25 NA .69 NA .01

20.8 15.6 12.5 31.3 34.6 28.5 NA 6.6 5.5

*26.15 66.90 16.13 *56.04 263.95 15.85 *7.89 41.51 1.81

28.9 16. 6 4.5 26.4 46.3 10.8 6.2 6.6 0.7

28.66 153.21 110. 10 79.03 126.81 13.56 25.56 269.10 22.66 137.66 19.37 59.64 4.42 34.31 12.16 9.12 2.98 2.98 3.15 .64 3.18 2.01
.35 13.56

31.7 38. 1 30.6 37.2 22.2 9.3 20.2 42.6 9.1 73.8 24.4 65.7 2. 7 22.4 29.4 9.8 42. 9 35.2 28.4 27.8 18.2 35.4 10. 1 38.5

foundation for judicial protection against unwarranted use of the power to confer preferences.62 Upon passage of the amendment, Madras revised its former system of communal quotas to accord with the new requirements; the situation in other states remained unchanged. There was no further litigation over the Backward Classes for
eight years.63


OriSSa PUnjab UP WeStBengal

The Backward Classes Comnmission was established in 1953 and directed to determine the criteria to be Zdopted in considering whether any sections Scheduled Castes and Tribes) should be treated as socially and educationally backward classes; and, in accordance with such criteria to prepare a list of such classes.. ..64 The directions express an expectation of Centrally-established uniform standards and a Central master list of Backward Classes.65 Accordingly, the Commission, after two years' work, presented a list of 2,399 backward groups and recommended various measures for their economic, educational, social, cultural and political advancement.66 It was estimated that these groups comprised a total of more than 116 million members (about 32 per cent of the total population of India).67 This does not include women as a separate group, although the Commission recommended that all women in India comprised a Backward Class.68 Nor does it include Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who in 1951 made up over 14 per cent and 6 per cent respectively of the total population. It had been generally anticipated,69 if not universally approved,70 that the "classes" designated by the Commission would be castes or communities. While indicating its desire to avoid perpetuating evils of caste and its eagerness to avoid caste, the Commnission "found it difficult to avoid caste in the present prevailing conditions".7' The Commission felt it was "not only correct but inevitable" to interpret its terms of reference "as mainly relating to social hierarchy based on caste".72 As general criteria of backwardness the Commission listed trade and occupation, security of employment, educational attainments, representation in
of the people ... (in addition to the

Andhra 186.55 HYderabad Madhya Bharat 79.54 90.75 MYSOre 34.94 PePSU 152.91 RajaSthan 41.37 Saurashtra TraVanCOre92.80 ACnhin 6. 93 A;mer 8.36 BhOPal PradeSh HimiaCha1 11.09 andBilaspur 2.29 COOrg 17.44 Delhi 5.68 KUtCh 5.78 ManiPur 6.39 TriPUra VindhYa PradeSh 35.75 AndamanSand .30 NiCobarS

in (inClUded MadraS) 50.5 122.85 65.9 17.2 13.25 16.7 19.3 20.62 22.7 NA *3.79 10. 8 22.4 21.0 *34.30 38.1 1*1.06 26.7 4.5 5.*1 14.4 NA 30.3 NA .2

2.85 . 35 1.35 *2.38 .68 *2.41 1.08


3.1 5.1 13.5 21.4 29.7 13.8 19.0


.30 7.40

4.7 20.7





674 .39






Represents estimated 1951 population of educationally backward classes. (The source is not entirely clear as

ASSam. regardS



BCC 14-15. groups. While there was discussion of the economic backwardness of the groups who deserved preferences, it was not merely the poor that the drafters and speakers had in mind.59(Indeed, if thev had, an amendment would hardly have been necessary.) Some speakers argued that preferences should be directed to the economically poor, but the predominant concern was to provide some special treatment to offset and remedy specifically those social inequalities of caste and community which were seen as underlying and compounding economic differences.60 The Venkataramana case had indicated that the "Backward Classes" included only those caste groups of

Others assumed that the identity of the Backward Classes would remain a question for the state governments and counselled trust in their good faith.57 Examination of the debate leaves it abundantly clear that the Backward Classes, by whomever designated and according to whatever tests they were chosen, were expected to be a list of castes or communities. Ambedkar, then Law Minister, forthrightly observed that the amendment was needed precisely because "whaat are called backward classes are ... nothing else but a collection of certain castes".58 There was considerable concern that the provision should not permit communal quotas to be enjoyed by more advanced 1816



October 28, 1978

government service and, most emphatically, position in the social hierarchy.73 It did not use these standards directly to isolate categories of backward persons, but to isolate backward communiti?s. The units to which these tests were applied were for the most part .caste and sub-caste groups. In identifying the backward, the Commission used caste in tvo ways: first, it used caste groups as the units or "classes" to be classified; and second, it used the position or standing of these groups in the social hierarchy as the principal criterion for determining their back\arrdness. In classifying communities, the Commission aimed to take into consideration ... the social position which a communitv occupies in the caste hierarchy, the percentage of literacy and its general educational advancement; and its representation in government service or in the industrial sphere. The economic backvardness also had to be kept in view ... as also the recent trends in its advancement as a result of various [government] ... measuires during the past one or two decades.74 The Commission was deluged by communities claiming to be backward.75 But it found that the paucity of data fully matched the immensity of its task.76 The state governments were fotund not to have relevant statistics, "4administrators and census 'officers pleaded their inability to supply the relevant material", and figures supplied by the communities themselves were chiefly guesswork.7 7 The decision to de-emphasise caste in the 1951 census operations had left the Commission without any figures on the literacy, income or occupation of the various communities.78The Commission had no facilities for generating data themselves. In the face of these obstacles, the Commission plowed bravely on: in the absence of reliable facts andfigures, the only course open to us wvas to rely on .the statistics available from the various governments and the previous census reports, and to go by the gFeneralimpressions of government officers, leaders of publfc opinion and social workers.79 In some cases there was no data at all and "the decision had to be taken on the strength of the name of the community only, on the principle of giving the benefit of doubt".80 The Commission did not undertake to document the application of its tests to the communities on its list, for which it provided only names, traditional occupations and estimated population.81 In addition to listing the Backwardl

Classes, the Commission was instructed to investigate the conditions of all such socially and educationally backward classes and the difficulties undcr which they labour and m-ake recommendations (i) as to the steps that should be taken bDy the union or any state to remove such difficulties or to improve their conditions; (ii) as to the grants that should be mnade t...82 True to its charge, the Commission recommended a vast array of schemes for the protection and advancement of the backward, including a number of major changes in tural life - redistribution of land, protection of tenants, help to the small agriculturalists, (credit, price supports, irrigation, etc).83 It recommended the creation of a separate ministrv for Backward Classes' It proposed reservations Welfare.4 Classes in government for BackNvard service of at least 25 per cent in Class I, 33!'I per cent in Class II and 40 per cent in Classes III andl IV.8s ID addition there were various aids to the education of these groups and a reservation of 70 per cent in medical, scientific and technical colleges.86 in a last minute volte face, the Chairman virtually repudiated the Commission's work, having concluded that "'it would have been better if we could (letermine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste".87 He finds the caste test repugnant to democracy and inimical to the creation of "a casteless and classless society" (in the then fashionable phrase) by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions. It is not entirely clear what he would put in its place. He recommencls that backwardness be measured bv residential, economic, educational and cultural criteria.88 Apparently he not only repudiates caste standing as but also the the test of backNvardness uise of caste units. At several places in his covering letter he suggests that only individuals and families should be the units whose backwardness is ascertained.89 Elsewhere, however, he recommends policies which seem incompatible with this position (e g, that where an income test is. employed, members of backward communities should be given priority).90 The Chairman's last minute desertion foreshadowed (and perhaps augmented) the negative reception, that awaited the report.9' The spectacle of numeronis groups vying to display their backwardness, the feeling that caste classisfcations were divisive and unfitting, the

casualness of the Commission's application of its criteria the vastness of the number it f ound backward, and the expansiveness of the preferences it proposed, exposed its work to widespread criticism.92 The Commission's report was laid on the table of both houses of Parliament on September 3, 1956, accompanied by by a withering critique from the Minister of HomneAffairs, expressing disappointment with its criteria and its conclusions.93 The emphasis on caste, the

the displayed Minister asserted, "dangers of separatism".94 Not only \vas the caste basis unfair to the backward outside these comminities, but the caste system was undeniably "the greatest hindrance in the way of our progress toward an egalitarian society, and the recognition of specified castes as backward may serve to maintain and perpetuate the existing distinctions on the basis of caste".95 The Commission's standards other than caste were "obviously vague".96 The verv expansiveness of the Commission's list undermined its usefulness, for if everyone "barring a few exceptions, has thus to be regarded as backward, the r-eally needy would be swamped by the multitude and hardly receive any Thus the ComspeCial attention...97 mission failed to find "positive and workable criteria".98 "Further investigations will have to be unidertaken so tlwt the deficiencies that have been noticed in the findings of the Commission are made good and the problem is solved with duie regard to the requirements
of Article .340...." 99 The state govern-

ronentswvererequested to undertake ad
hoc surveys to determine the numbers of

Backward Classes and in the meantime to "give all reasonable facilities" to the Backward Classes "in accordance with their existing lists and also to such others who in their opinion deserve to be consideredl as socially and educationally backward in the existing circumstances."100 Thus the matter went back to the states; the Commission's report remained on the table, and in spite of occasional agitations, waz not taken uip by Parliament until 1965. When the replies from the state governments "were not found helpful" the Central government requested the Office of the Registrar General to conduct ad hoc surveys to determine suitable criteria.101 Tt was hoped that the Recgistrar General could determine occu. pationlal tests of backwardness. On the 1817






Name of Group


Est of Pop (Per Cent) 38

Posts (Per Cent)

Medical College Admissions (Per Cent) 25




Andhra Pradesh 1975


92 listed con-mnuities


Scholarships; fee concessions Scholarships. hostel NI

"Other" benefits only for those with income under Rs 3600

1, 3

Econonlically BCs Bihar 1978 BCs

All with income under Rs 1500 Members of NI (1955 BCC) list of communities with income less than Rs 12,000 NI NI Income less than NI Rs 4800/ year Ni I Occupations 2 19 Communities 3 Border & poor areas [List of Communities] NI Members of listNI NI NI

None 26

None NI

I 2

Gujarat Himachal Pradesh Jammu and Kashmir

1977 1972 1973 1973

BCs Economically BCs BCs Socially and Educationally BCs BCs BCs Socially and


10 None

_ Scholarships, etc. I seat of 60 NI NI Direct ment recruit-

4 5 6 7 [141 3 3, [81


42 40 _

NI NI 28 25

Karnataka Kerala

1978 1977 1977

8 J [45]


Educationally ed communities with incomeless BCs

1972 Socially and Educationally BCs BCs than Rs 10,000 Members of list- NI ed communities with income less than Rs 6000 Members of 560 NI listed communities with incOme less than Rs 8000 NI NI [List of commu- 12 nities]

Scholarships, loans _ _ Kerala Service Rules 14-17





1977 1966


10 14

Scholarships, loans,.etc

Exclusive of reservations for Nav-Buddhas and some tribals

3 10



BCs Backward Areas BCs

fList of commu-


5 2 31 31 Hostels;special training

3, [16



Tamil Nadu


Uttar Pradesh

1978 1977

BCs Hill Areas

ListoflO5communties (plus add'I list for Kanya Kumari District) List of 58 Communities



16 15

_ 3

Intitial recruitment Promotion

12 13

(1) Brackets indicate information from source earlier than date showr.. (2) NI indicates no information. Sources: (1) Andhra Pradesh Department of Social Welfare, Performarice Budget 1975-76: 1-3. Notes:

(2) OverseasHindustanTimes,April 6, 1978.

(3) Haildbook of Medical Education, 1977. (4) Gujarat Directorate of Education, Annual Report 1971-72: 76-77. (5) Kaur v State of HP, AIR, 1974, HP 35.

(6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17)
tC1 00


Janki Prasad v State of Jammnu Kasllmir,AIR 1973, SC 930, 933, 939-942. and The Statesnman, March 18, 1978: 4. Jayasree v State of Kerala, AIR 1976, SC 2381, 2383. Kerala Harijan Welfare Department, AdministrationReport 1971-72: 10. MaharashtraAdministrationReport on Welfareof BackwardClasses 1966-67. Tamil Nadu Backward Classes PerformanceBudget 1972-73: 1. TheStatesman, March 15, 1978. June 8, 1978. Thie.Statesman, Government of Karnataka, 1975: 1, 316-317. Government of Kerala, 1971: 169-174. Gurinder Singh v State of Punjab, 1975 AIR, P and H 125: 126; Pal Government of Tamil Nadu, 1971: 1, 176.

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY basis of a three-state sample survey an occupational test with an income ceiling was tentatively proposed.'02 The Home Ministry's suggestion that the states adopt such an occupational criterion enjoyed a mixed reception.'03 However, this effort collapsed when the Deputy Registrar General reported that it would be impossible to draw up a precise and complete list of occupations whose prectitioners were socially and economically backward.104 Those, who entertained hopes of generous preferential treatment for the Other Backward Classes found some encouragement in the late 1950s. State expenditures on schemes for the Other Backward Classes increased (particularly in education where they were substantial),105 although the expansion of the^Centre's scheme for post-matriculation scholarships slowed down after 1955-56. Apparently at some point in 1957 the Government of India instructed all state governments to extend the benefits of various welfare schemes to the Other Backward Classes, using the Ministry of Education lists, pending finalisation of a list of Other Backward Classes. Furthermore it requested the state governments to fill unused vacancies in the seats reserved in educational institutions for Scheduled Castes and Tribes with students from the Other Backward!Classes,106 a measure found very gratifying by the All-India Backward Classes Federation who observed that "at long last the voice of the effectively being is Federation heard".'07 By the beginning of the 1960s the tide was running strongly against definition of the Backward Classes by community. Opposition within the government,108was augmented by criticism from academics and much of the national press, who voiced a common suspicion of the caste criterion.109For the first time since 1951,. a court intervened to strike down a scheme for Backward Classes in a decision widely acclaimed as a blow at casteismY? Revulsion from communal criteria was reinforced by reports of their abuse. In a situation where many thoughtful persons were increalingly concerned about the dangerous potentialities of social cleavages,"" the alleged divisive tendencies of the communal criterion seemed a serious threat to national unity and integration.1"2 While a "casteless and classless society" remained the avowed aim of the Congress and a wide section of the intelligentsia, there had been a subtle shift irn notions of how this aim was to be pursued. A decade before it was widely thought that special redistributive measures were required specifically to offset inequalities associated with caste, even while general development programmes addressed other aspects of inequality. The notion of caste differentials as themselves a significant form of inequality deserving of special governmental attention to eliminate their effects gave way to a notion that the salient differences were economic; specific redistributive mneasures directed at caste differences were not necessary, since overall development would raise the general level.'13 Recognition of caste differences in order to offset their effects was replaced by an enhanced reluctance to recognise them at all; indeed, any recognition of such differences was seen as itself a violation of egalitarian principles and productive of inequality.

October 28, 197h

ments of Article 340, it now pointed out that the Constitution did not require the Centre to draw up a list. Since even if it were to do so, "it will still be open to every state govemment to draw uji its own lists [and] any allIndia list would have no practical utility"."17 More importantly, the "crying need" of the day was social cohesion and emotional integration. There was the grave danger that different treatment of the 'backward' would foster divisive tendencies, and would undermine efforts for general economic uplift and the reduction of disparities between different classes. The states were urged to emphasise the expansion of welfare and educational benefits to all of the poor,'employing economic rather than communal categories.1-18 The withdrawal of the Central government from involvement in preferences for the Other Backward Classes was confirmed by the omission of any provision for them in the Central sector of the Third Five Year Plan.119The Central In May 1961 the Cabinet decided amount contributed by the that no national list of Other Back- government for post-matriculation schoward Classes should be drawn up and larships for Other Backward Classes, the states were informed that in the which had increased steadily since frozen at the 1958-59 view of the government of India "it 1949, was was better to apply economic tests than level.120 And, beginning in 1963, the to go by caste".114 At the end of May state lists of O}therBackward Classes a Conferenceof Chief Ministers to con- used in administering this scheme were sider matters relating to National In- abandoned in favour of a test of famitegration "agreed that. economic back- ly income.121 wardness rather than community or The Central government's campaign caste would provide an appropriate for economic criteria in the states was criterion for giving aid to individuals given added impetus by the first (since in matters of education including pro- 1951) intervention of the Supreme fessional and technical training".115 In Court into the matter of who are the August 1961, the Home Ministry in- Backward Classes. In September 1962 formed the state governments of the the Supreme Court struck down the Center's decision not to list Backward Mysore Backward Classes list, whose Classes. In the Ministry's view, the defects included exclusive reliance on very expansiveness of such proposed caste standing as a measure of backenumerations as that of the Backward wardness, adding the onus of constiCldsses Commission militated against tutiooal disrepute to the caste critethem: "if the bulk of the country's rion.lm The Court's judgment, which millions were to be regarded as coming warmly commended economic tests, within the category of Backward Classes, was widelv acclaimed and widely (and no useful purpose could be served by mistakenly) interpreted as outlawing enseparate enumerations of such classes". tirely the use of caste tests. This case Furthennore the caste criterion was marked the emergence of the judiciary objectionable: "the remedies suggested as the institution within which the on the basis of caste would be worse problem of who are the Backward Clasthan the evil of backwardness it- ses was most carefully and coherently self".116 But subsequent efforts to dis- addressed. In 1965, when the Report of the cover usable criteria on economic lines "did not yield any useful results".Where Backward Classes Commission was in 1956, the Home Ministry had ack- finally discussed- in Parliament, the nowledged an obligation to compile a Central gove-nment's spokesman firmlist in accordance with the require- ly reiterated its opposition to commul1819

October 08, 1978 nal criteria. Caste criteria were not only adnministratively unworkable, but were conitraryto the "firistprinciple of social justice" in their unfairness to the other poor. They were contrary to the Constitution, would perpetuate caste, and would create in the recipients botlh vested interest and a sense of helplessness. The Centre endorsed economiic criteria, but refrained from enforcing it on the states, preferring "tthepath of persuasion".123 Eight states were said to have adopted the eco-

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WELEKLY reserved for them. In stark contrast is what we might call the eastern-middle band, stretchina acfoss India from Assam in the northeast tlhrough WVest Bengal and Orissa, across Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan and Gujarat. In these states there is no significant use of the Other Backward Classes category. The northern tier of states displays an irntermediatepattern. Jammu and Kashmir, with its history. of communal quotas, resembles the southem pattern. An admixture of geographical criteria is found there and in Punjab and UP, along with use of communal units. Bihar, like Jammu and Kashmir, approximates the peninsular pattern. The Backward Classes are selected on a communal basis and make up a sizeable 1)ortionof the population, but the benefits have not been as extensive as in the South. Extension of benefits to reservations of government posts in 1978 set off a political crisis. What the Central government tried in 1965 to portray as a trend toward substitution of economic for communal criteria was even then largely a rhetorical artefact, -albeit one built around two substantial items - the abandonment of communal units in Andhra ancd in Mysore.134From the vantage point of the late 1970s this "trend" appears more as a transient deflecti- from the main line of development of Backward Classes lists. That line of development has been one of continuing use of communal uints, but with increasing refinement and restraint. Under pressure from the courts, almost all the state gove-nments that made extensive use of the Backward Classes category set up commissions to Identify the Backward Classes. From 1965 to 1971, such comrhissionsreported in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala again and Tamil Nadu.135 In 1975 a Karrataka commission filed the most massive and scholarly report to date.136 All of these commissions, and the government orders based on their recommendations, use communal units to designate the Backward Classes. But Jammri and Kashmir relies heavily on occupational and territorial groups and Kerala employs an income cut-off. The selection of communities is more sophisticated: the commissions attempt to assemble (and sometimes generate) evidence about occupatiop, income and educatfon as well as status and disabilities. Most of them strive to elimirnate the well-off. In some cases, the number

validate other listings of Backward Classes for, the courts have held, presidential specification would not exhaustively define the Backward Classes for purposes of preferences under Articles 15 (4) and 16(4).130 Central proposals may, of course, carry some persuasive weight with the states (or, as guides to "reasonableness",with the Courts).131 But it is the "State" in the broad sense of all governmental organs that retains the power of designation.132 Preferences and who is-'to receive them may be provided by executive (as well nomic criterion.124 Backward Classes organisations con- as by legislative action) and they tinued to campaign for greater bene- almost alwayNare.133 WVith aban'donmentof ceneral atthe fits and for a revival of -Central responsibility and interest in the Back- tempts to define the Backward Classes they and theXrelinquishment of whatever ward i1asses.125 In particular, petitioned for a restoration of the caste control might accompany central funds basis, for implementation of the long- for Other Backward Classes the matter ignored report of the Backward Clas- reverted to the states. The composition ses Commission, and for creation of a of the Other Backward Classes, the ministry to attend 'to the problems of scope of preferential programmes and the Backward Classes.126 Organisations the level of benefits continued to vary of particular communities and some widely from state to state. Some of the varying state practices composite Backward Class organisations at the local level (especially in the' for selecting Backward Classes are sumSouth and in Bihar continue to flou- marised in Table 3. For all its incomrish, but many of the local composite pleteness and oversimplification, this organisations have become moribund.127 list gives us a rough profile of who After a period of desuetude, the na- are the Backward Classes in the midtional AIBCF had a revival in the late 1970s. It is worth noting a few of the salient 1960s. As the Central role in designation of features of this profile. Caste and comBackward Classes moved from an at- munal units remain the predominant tempt to prepare a single nationwide "classes" that are deemed backward' list to suggesting standards to the sta- Caste lists range in magnitude from tes, courts involved in litigation over those which include a substantial porBackward Classes' lists made it clear tion of the state's population to those that the Constitution did not confer on comprising a narrow stratum just above these Central proposals any conclusi- the untouchables. Income tests are also the identification of the emploved in many cases, sometimes inveness in Backward Classes.128 While the state deDendently and sometimes in conmight make special provision for 'any' jutnctionwith communal units. The level Backward Class, it is under no consti- of benefits ranges from none through tutional obligation to make such provi- scholarships and fee concessions to an sion for every class designated as back- array of reservations in government ward by the Backward Classes Commis- posts and medical college admissions. sion or by any other agency. Indeed, the There is important regional variation. state may not rely on the findings of the For convenience we may think of three Backward Classes Commission to esta- contiguous groupings. First there fs blish conclusively that a given class is what we might call the peninsular bloc backward.129 Conversely, preferences comprising the four Dravidian states may be given to a group which does (Ardhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala not appear on the Commission's list. and Tamil Nadu) and- Maharashtra. In State power to provide preferential these states the Backward Classes catetreatment to the backward is not li- gories have a long history descending mited to those listed by the Commis- f-om pre-Independence arrangements; sion or any other agency. The original there are a wide range of benefits, (exexpectation that the Commission's list cept in Maharashtta) a major segment or some part of it would be confirmed of the population - from 38 to 55 by Presidential specification has gone per cent - is included and a major unfulfilled. This failure does not in- segment of scarce opportunities are

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY of groups designated is more modest than earlier.137Benefits are recommended for a limited span of time and there is concern about termination and reassessment. Perhaps some of this state activity was in response to the animadversions of the Centre against communal criteria, but more directly and palpably it was a response to the courts. In some cases it was a response to courts acttally striking down schemes; in others, threatening to do so if they were not reformed; in still others it was to the implicit threat of litigation. The states aligned their scheines with the prescriptions of the courts rather than with the pronouncemetits of the Central executive. In part this may be because the Centre offered so little, apart from commending the income test. In retrospect it is surprising that the Centre never attempted to formulate a workable quantitative standard for selecting backward communities - e g, those groups whose average income and average literacy were less than one-half of the state average. It may have been felt that practically such a course was foreclosed by the decision to omit castewise data in the censuses of 1951 and 1961, but the absence of such attempts suggests that the animus against communal tests eclipsed any consideration of making them more work-able. What emerges from the interaction of state governments, commissions and courts are lists of communal groups, with some admixture of geographic and income factors, chosen on the basis of low status, low educational attainments and poverty. We might generalise very tentatively about the magnitude of the Backward Classes category: the lists tend to converge on something like the second and third lowest quintiles of the population (assuining the Scheduled Castes and Tribes make up roughly the lowest quintile). Northern and southern states arrive at this position from very different starting points. In the peninsula (and in Jammu and Kashmir) the commission process represents a pruning away of the more prosperous and powerful groups from a comprehensive list that approximated a regime of communal quoras. In the northern tier, however, provision for this stratum is added slowly, first in education, then in gov. ernment iobs, converging on a somewhat similar position. Thlrough the course of this. development the term "Backward Classes" as retained a multiplicity of meanings. It is used to describe the totality of groups entitled to preferential treatment on the basis of their "backwardness"'38- ie, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well as "Other Backward Classes" but not those accorded special treatment because of temporary or situational disadvantage (e g, disaster victims, refugees, defence personnel). The term also refers specifically to those backward groups other than the Sheduled Castes and Tribes. There remain fundamental, if rarely articulated, disagreements about who these groups are. Some would confine this category to the lowly - those 'far below' the mean in welfare and resources, or those whose deprivations are comparable to those of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes;139 others use the term Backward Classes to describe a wide middle stratum of Indian society, who require and deserve special help because they ,a.e lagging behind the most advanced groUps.140 There is, as we have seen, further disagreemerotover whether the term refers to the less well-off in all communities or whether it encompasses only those communities that suffei "backwardness"as a group. The question of who were, the Scheduled Castes was debated and roughly settled before Independence within the executive and without the participation of the Courts. But who are the Backward Classes is a post-Independence question which the constitutional recognition of the category made one of all-India scope. The Constitution left the matter with the executive at the state level with an option for the Cen;tre to unify it. When the executive at the Centre first failed and then declined to provide a resolution, the question reverted to the states. In the wake of the Janata victory in the 1977 elections, the Backward Classes returned to the national political agenda. Pursuant to its electorail promise,141 the Janata government appeared poised to appoint a new Backward Classes Combut had not done so by midmnission, 1978. The UP and Bihar governments under Janata control, enlarged substantially the preferences for Other Backward Classes, leading to massive violence in Bihar and political intervention by the Centre. During the hiatus of Central involvement, what the states did was increasingly subjected to the examination of the courts. It nhasbeen the Supreme

October 28, 1978 Court rather than the Central government which has been the unifying and limiting influence and presumably any new Central policy will be shaped in light of two decades of judicial predominance in this area.

[This paper is drawn from my forthcoming book, tentatively entitled "Competing Equalities: The Indian Experience with Compensatory Discrimina-


The following abbrieviations are used for frequently cited material: BOC = Report of the Backward Classes Commision (1955) CAD = Constituent Assembly Deba-tes (1946-50) RCSCST = Reports of the Coinmissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (1951- ) 1 The Fort St George Gazette No 40 of November 5, 1895 mentions grants in aid to schools for a list of "Backward Classes" which inchides most of the "untouchable" castes of Madras Presidency. Irschick (1977) notes that the term was used as far back as 1880 to describe a list of groups, also called illiterate or indigent classes, entitled to allowances for study ini elementary schools. 2 Latthe 1924: II, 574. '3 Southborough Report 1919:1. 4 Reprinted in Mukerji 1920: 528. 5 A 1921 GO referring to the 1911 GO is reprinted in Mysore Backward Classes Committee 1961:5761.

6 Id, at 58. An attached education memorandum employs the terni "backward classes" (id, at 61). but it is not clear that it was exactly synonymous. 7 Muddiman Report 1925:147. 8 Ornvedt 1976 : 184, 186, 188. 9 Government of Bombay Finance Department Resolution No 2610 of Feb 5, 1925, cited by Omvedt 1976: 343. 10 Hartog Report (1929) at 399. 11 Indian Central Committee (1929) at 45. 12 Id.13 Id, at 47. 14, Id, at 365. 15 Government of Bombay 1930:8. 16 Id, at 8. 17 Id, at 9. 18 Id, appendix II. The total Backward Classes population was 3.840 millicons or 14.4 per cent of the 1921 population of the Presidency. 19 Indian Statutory Commission (1930) I, 35-7. 20 Tndian Franchise Committee (1932) IV: 734. 21 Id, 738. 22 Id, 826. In an interview in 1966, S D. Singh Chaurasia of Lucknow, who was associated with the League and subsequently became la leading spokesnian of Backward

October 28, 1978 Classes andl.served on the Backward Classes Commission, recalled that he coilned the term in 1930 or 1931. Sinice 1974, Singh Chaurasia has been a member of Bajya Sabha. Classes 1935-37: 364. The official announcement was that communities not then classified as depressed would be inclilde(d and that advanced groups Aimon,g depressed would be rethe classified. For a similar inclusive usage, inote the announcement in December 1936 that the Governinent of the Central Provinces constituited a committee to promote the edudation of the Backward Classes. Depressed Classes 193537:273. 25 A writer in the Times of India (July 1936) claimed that tjl estimates of Depressed Classes population were highly inflated by the "backward class inclusion of Hindus, such as dhobis, barbers, and iothers who are not untouchSee response of S R ables...." Venkataraman, reprinted in Depressed Classes 1935-37: 161. Cf the March 1937 manifesto on the Christian Dutv to Depressed Classes and Backward Classes, reported in Depressed Classes 1935-37: 354. 26 CO 190 Public Department (Januarv 20, 1944). 27 GO 3437 Public (Services) (November 21, 1947). 28 Quoted in Baneijee 1948: 1, 313. 29 Hirday Nath. Kunzru (UP) at VII CAD 680; Ari Bahadur Gurung (West Bengal) at VII CAD 685; RM Nalavade (Bombay) at VII CAD 686. Dharam Prakash (UP) proposed that Depressed Classes or Scheduled Castes should be used in place of Backward Classes, since the former terms had a definite meaning. VII GAD 687. 30 H J Khandekar (CP and Berar) preferred the use of Scheduled Castes lest "the people of other castes would claim to be backwvard..." VII CAD 692. Hukum Siingh (EP) expressed uncertainty as to wNhetherthe term covered the Schedule(dCastes and religious minorities. VII CAD 694. 81 T Channiah (Mysore) at VII CAD) 689-90, 32 Ismail Sahib (Madras) found the Madras usag,e objectionable in that if clid not extend to "the backward classes of minoirity comnunities". VII CAD 692. 33 K M Mu-nshiat VII CAD 697. 34 Chandrika Ram (Bihar) VII CAD 687. 35 VII CAD 697. 36 T T Krishnamachari at VII CAD 699. 37 VII CAD 702. In the light of the later analysis and the text itself, this seems rather misleading, for the "opinion" of the government is determinative only of the not group's "n-nder-representation" of its backwardness. 38 VII CAD 699. 39 Art 340. While the Constituent As.sembly was at work, A V Thak1822
23 Id, 826. 2'4 Depressed

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL WEEKLY kar, a imiemberof that body and one of India's leading social workers, explained that the Draft visualised a commission "to go through the whole of the country...and find out which castes of 1-Hindus,Muslims, etc, are reallv backvard according to certain standards, educational, social, economic etc". Hindustoni Times, Dec 26, 1948 (reprinted in Jagadisan and Shyamlal 1949: 338). That what was contemplated was reservation for backward "communities" is clear from the recomrnendations of the 1948-49 Universitv Education Commission (1949: 1 5.3) that ."the needs of justice to the members of the Scheduled Castes and the communities declared to be backward by the governWent... can be met. by reserving a certain proportion of the seats... for qualified students of these conimunities . . .". 40 Eg, the Bihar government made provisions in 1947 for Other Backward Classes in post-matriculation studies and, on the basis of the Ministry of Education's list, proBackward pounded its list of Classes in 1951. (Interview with Deva Charan Singh, one of the founders of the All-India Backward Classes Federation, and later Chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council, on March 30, 1966.) It was estimated that these- groups comprised 60 per cent of- the state's populhiton. Educational concessions for Other Backward Classes began in UP in 1948. The list of 56 cas!tes was estimated to comprise 65 per cent of. the population (interview with S D Singh Ch'aurasiaon March 17, 1966). 41 Deshmukh (see note 44 below) reports that his "first concrete attempt" took the form of personal letters to Prime Minister Nehru and Maulana Azad in March, 1948 "requesting that some amount should be set apart for the award of scholarships to the Other Backward Classes also as was done for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This

thcse lists foUow very closely the lists of those states which then had Backxvard Classes lists. Thus, for example, the Mysore list includes not only Muslims, Christians and jains, but all Hindu groups other thaii Brahmins. The Madras and Bombay lists, however, are more restricted and do not include the higher non-Brahmin castes. 43 The Bihar State Backward Classes Federation was founded in 1947. (Interview with Deva Charan Singh, as above. See above, note 40.) 44 Majumdar (1955:474-75) in 1954 counted 88 organisations worling for the Backward Classes in 15 states, of which 74 represented individual communities and 14 Backward Classes in general on a local or state hasis. To some ex.tent, at least, the national Backward Classes movement represented a coming together of remnants of the non-Brahmnin movements of the South and Bombay with the less successful Backward Class movements of the north (especiallv UP and Bibar). Their relative sucTable 1. The chief spokesman for
the Other Backward Classes at the national level was Puniabrao Deshmukh of Madhya Pradesh ((Minister of Agriculture from 1952 to 1957 and 1958 to 1962). He reported that when he came into the Constituent Assembly "I mustered courage to take up the problenm [of Backward Classes] and place it on an all-India plane...." The AllIndia Backward Classes Federation came into existence on Januasv 26, 1950, the day that the ConBtitution came into force. All-India Backward Classes Federation 1955:2. 45 The -Backward Classes category was found to provide a convenient admintstrative depository for groups which were felt to deserve some special treatnent, but which were not included or includable uinder other headings. Two and a half million "left out" tribal -peoples, who had mistakenly been cess is reflected in the disparate benefits afforded by the states in

accepted in principle by government and the Other Backward Classes were added to the list for award of scholarships for the first time in 1948-49. The state governments were then asked. to prepare sehedules of these castes.. As soon as the Central government took as a member of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes' Scholarships Board..." AIBCF 1955: 2. Post-matriculation scholarships were provided for Other Backward Classes beginning in 1949-50,-with an expenditure of Rs 2.46 lakhs, less than half of that for the Scheduled Castes. Bv 1953-54, the expenditure had increased ten-fold to Rs 26.51 lakhs, approximatelv equal to that for Scheduled Castes. RCSCST 1954: 366. 42 The Central government's lists may be found at RCSCST .1951: 163ff. Although I have not mnadean exhaustive comnptison, it seems that
this decision .;.. I was nominated



omitted from the list of Scheduled Castes, were included until the
ScheduLle was, amended . in 1956. (RCSCST 1953: 196.) The denotifled tribes Criminal (formerly

Tribes) were at first listed separately for budget purposes but were later assimilated to the Other Backward Classes for budgetary purposes. Backward Classes lists typically included converts from Scheduled C.astes to non-Hindu religions and several states used this
category to provide some concessions to sections of their Muslim population. This is especially true of Bihar and Hyderabad. (See the lists in RCSCST 1951.) 46 The 1951 Census, unlike previous not to Censuses, had decided collect caste data, except for "Special Groups". including not onlv

Castes and Tribes, but Schueduled~ Backward Classes specified by the

state governments. However, the statistics on Backward Classes were not ftully tabulated and were never

'T'hecCenstis authorities

providted the Backward Classes Commission with two figures for "BackwardClasses: their enumerated population" (67 million or 18.9 per cent of the total population) atnd their estimated 1951 population of each caste (73 million or 20.5 per cent of the total population). III BCC 9. The similarity of totals conceals great discrepancies at the state level. See Table III B-3. Although Shah, III BCC 9, Inidicates that the Census totals are based on the existing state lists, there seem to be some cases in which this is not so- eg, Mysore where the Census enumeration is 19.3 per cent of the population, while the state list was closer to the Commission's figure of 65 per cent. 47 Planning Commission 1951:231. 48 Planning Commission 1953:243. 49 Eg, a writer in the Times of India anticipated that the Backward Classes Commission, soon to be formed, was expected to enumerate about 20 million in the Backward Classes - that is, less than one-third of the census total. Times of India, December 3, 1952. 50 Deshrnukh in All-India Backward Classes Federation 1954:5. 51 AIR 1951 SC 226. Both judgnmentswere handed down on April 9, 1951 but they could not bave been wholly unanticipated for the Madras High Court decided similarly in the Champakam case on July 27, 1950, AIR 1951 Mad 120. 52 AIR 1951, SC 229. 5.3 In the debate on the amendment, Prime Minister Nehru remarked: The House knows very well and there is no need for trying to hush it up, that this particular matter in this par. ticular shape arose because of certain happenings in Madras. Parliamentary Debates, Vol XII 13 (Part II.) at col 9615. While others concurred in locating the thrust for the amendment in Madras, one member pointed out that It is not only the Madras government that is concerned with this but the whole of South TndM-the states of Mysore, lravanco-re-Cochin and even Bombay... (Shri ShankaraiyaId, at 9000). Deshmukh saw the regional origin as a question of time-lag: the problem was not confined to Madras, but was bound to arise elsewhere as soon as the Bockward Classes became more aware and assertive. Id, at 9775. 54 The bill was referred to a select committee after some discussion on May 16, 1951. Further deb;ateon Article 15 (4) took place on May 18, 29, 30, 31 and June 1 and 2. The clause inserting Article 15(4) was passed on Julne 1; the entire bill on June 2. This amendment was one of the three major changes made by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951.' Both the amendments of Article 19 (freedom



57 58 59

of speech) and of Article .31 reticence abouit using the word (acquisition of property) received "caste" was nIot shared lby all (f lar mioret of Pl>i-lamen'ts time and his felloxv meinb rs. (f the moret atteultion. Of the three imiajor prostraightforw% ard remi:arks of Bevisions, Article 15 (4) encouintered veren(l d'Souza, Id, at 9(W8990; the least opposition. The clause Deshmukh Idl, at 9775-76. was passed 243-5. (The Article 19 60 Thus K T Shah, the strongest adamendment passed 228-19; Article vocate of an individualised ap.31, 239-7.) proach, avowed that the backwardrnessto he remledied was economic The original draft of Article 15 (4) would have added to Article (Id 8121) and proposed to elimi15 (3) which authorised special nate the word "classes" and to add "economicallv" to the qualifiers of provision for women and children, tl,e termii "backward classes". Id, the words 9815. Plrime Minister Nehru, exor for the educational, econoplaining his unwillingness to acmic, or social adva.ncement of any backward class of citicept any of the amendments, indizens. Id, at 8929. cated that he had no objection to adding "economically" but that to Prime Minister *Nehru explained do so would put the language at that the Select Committee chose variance with that of Article 240. the final wording "because thev He then observed: rsociallv and edujcationally] occur -But if I added "economicallv" in Article 340 and we wanted to I wouild at the same time not bring them bodily from there. Id, make it kind of a cumulative at 9830. thing but would say that a While some members liked the person who is lacking in any final phrasing because they thought of these things should be it confined Backward Classes to helped. "Socially" is a much those to be specified by the Presiwvider word including many dent uinder Article 340 (Thakur things and certainlv includinig Das Bhargava, Id, at 9719; MA economically. (Id, 9830). Ayyangar, Id, at 9817) others objected that they were not so con- 61 Althouah Ambedkar attributes the necessitv for the amendment to fined (Hukiim Singh, Id, at 9823; S P Mookeriee, Id, at 9824). An both judgments collectively, it is difficuilt to discern that he has a Amendment to. mnake explicit this specific objection to the Venkatalimitation to the groups specified raman case (Id. 9006.) Venkataunder Article 340 was not accepraman (Madras) closed the debate ted by the government and was with the observation that the predefeated by the House. Id, at sent amendment puts the position 9832-3`3. in regard to education on a par Seth Govind Das Id. at 10051; with that in government service and Venkataraman Id, at 10081. expressed satisfaction with the Id, at 9006. Supreme Court's holding in that Prime Minister Nehru observed area. (Id, at 10081.) that 62 Venkataraman assured the Houise we have to deal with the that there was no need for situation where for a variety ministerial assurances for "there is of causes for which the prea decision of the Supreme Court sent generation is not to . . . you have adequate protection, blame, the past has the reeven as the law now stands ... to sponsibility, there are groups, prevent anv abuse of this clause". classes, individuals, communi(Id, 10081.) ties, if you like, who are backward. They are backward 6.3 Madras listed 15.5 communities as in many ways -economically, the Backward Classes. See e g, socially, educationally someGovernment of Madras. Public (Sertimes 'they are not backward vice) Department GO No 2687 in one of these respects and (dated September 1953). vet backward in another. The 64 The charge to prepare a list is, of fact is therefore that if we course, not specified in the constiwish to encourage thein irn tutional provision for such a comregard to these matters, we mittee (Article 340) although some have to do something special listing seems to be anticipated bv for them: Id, 9616. Article 338(3). In spite of his reluctance to talk 65 The expectation that there would about caste, it is clear that what emerge an official central list of was inte'nded were not measures Backward Classes was expressed to erase all inequalities, but speciby the Commissioner for Scheduled fically those which were associated Castes and Scheduled Tribes who with traditional social structure noted in his report for 1953 that we want to put an end to... ". . .at present there are no all those infinite divisions that 'Backward Classes' as such, which have grown up in our social may have been officially recognised life ... we mav call them bv by the Government of India. This any name youi like, the caste would be done after the recommensystem or religiouis divisions, dations of the Backward Classes etc. There are of course ecoCommission are available." RCSCST ( nomic divisions but we realize 19 53: 196. See also Planning them and we try to deal with Commission 195:3: 243. themn... But in the structure 66 During the Comnmission's deliberathat has grOwn ulp... with its tions, estimates of the Backward( vast number~of 'fissures or Classes had risen as high as 70 per cent of the total population. divisions... The Prime Minister's extiaordinary III BCC 'D. It was proposed and 1828

!erfoursly coaisidered to list "advancf d" gr.-ups with all of the remainder to constittite the Backward Classes. I BC'C 48. This is diseussed at length in Chaurasia's minute of dissent, III BCC 41ff. 67 This poptulation figure is for only 91.3 of the 2399 Backward Commulnities. Ministrv of Home Affairs 1956:2. The Commission had- no population figures for the others, but it may be nresumed that few
were very nuimerous.

basically wrong to label aniy secwhen 90 per cenitof so, particulariv Indians were poor and backward. I BCC 3. This seems to mark a shift from his 1951 Position in the debate over'Article 15(4). (See note 59 s-upra.) 71 1 BCC 41. 72 Id, 42. 7.3 Id, 46. 74 Id, at 47. 75 The Commissionreceived a total of 3,344 memoranda and interviewed a total of 5,636 persons. I BCC 217. 76 In additionto compilationof a list of BackwardClasses, the Commission was subsequently chargedwith recommending revisionsof the lists of ScheduledCastes and Scheduled Tribes. 77 I BCC 7. 78 1 BCC 11. Apparently absence the of caste data was the deliberate policy of SardarPatel, the Home Minister kintif 1950, who rejected caste tabulation a device to conas firm,the British theory that India was a caste-ridden country and an expedient"to meet the needs of administrative measures dependent upon caste division." Froma 1950 address to the Census Conference, quoted as I BCC 9. Cf III BCC 18. 79 Id, at 8. Cf I BCC 47, where the Commissionnotes that the existing backwardclasses lists of the states and the Ministry of Education "formedthe basis of our information". 80 III BCC 9. Cf I BCC 49. 81 Hardgrave 1969: 141ff provides a revealingaccount of the Nadars' successful efforts to be listed by the Comriission as a Backward Class. This numerousTamilcaste, whose traditionaloccupation was toddv-tapping, had produced educated and prosperous strata by improvement. The Nadar Mahajana Sangam submitted to the Commission that "barringa few individuials who can be counted in nuimbers, community illitthe is erate, economically poor and socially boycotted". A Nadar partisan was informed by the Secretary of the Comnmission it that would be "impossibleto include 'Nadars'since many witnesseshave told the Commission that the 'Nadars' are not all backward". The Commission's solution was to include in its list "Shanan", a derogatory appellationfor the caste which the Nadars had long fought to discourage. (The Madras government later adopted the same device, and, after a period of some confuision. finallv ordered that "Nadar"be treated as synonymous with "Shanan".) 82 I BCC 2.
diint of strenuous efforts at selftion as backward even if they were

68 I BCC 31-32. 69 This expectation was evident in the Parliamentarydebate over Article 15 (4), discuissedabove. It was very neatly expressed in 1954 by N D Majumdar, a civil servant, v.writing in a government publication on social welfare: The backwardness with which the commission is expected to deal is much more special. For
one thing, the commission

not itoognise


indMidual back- widespread.

wardness, however

For its puipose, the backwardness must be collective.... Even this is not enough. The group must not be a purely economic group or even a social groun of the modem type. For exanmple, industrial labour... The commission cannot concern itself with these groups because it cannot trench on the ground of labour or agrarian welfare. In order to come under the scope of the commission's investigations, a social group has to be a genetic or hereditary group, and exhibit disabilities and backwvardness a group confined to as lowliness bv birth. . . . the commission is expected to deal with certain undesirable consequiences of the evolution of HinduL society, and developments of the same kindl in the nonHindu societies which have been influenced by the Hindu social An eminent anthropologist (who had served as Gandhi's secretary and was later to serve as Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) writing in 1954 also visualised the specific purpose of the Backward Classes Commission as the devising of measures not to eliminate all inequalities but specifically those associated with caste. "It is ... the desire and will of the Indian nation to do away with the hierarchy of caste and of its
consequent social discrimination, ana prepare the ground for full social equiality." Bose 1967: 182. pattern. Maiuamdar 1960:219.

He suiggests that "castes whose water is not acceptable to Brahmins, and who are at the same time very poorly represented in school registers or in Income Tax and Union Board [tax] lists in proportion to their population, should
be considered 'backward' in the enCommission's sense of the quIiry". Bose 1967: 188. 70 Nehrul is reported as saying at the

84 I B1CC 143ff. 85 I BCC 140. The Commission indicated that it was inclined to reccommend in reservations proportion
to population, where e?ducational attainments permitted, but adoPted the mninimrum figures, to leave sufficient scope for highly qualified candidates.

8.3 I BCC 51ff.

inauguration of the Backward Classes Commission (on March 18, 195.3) that he disliked the term Backward Classes, and that it was

86 I BCC 125. This recommendation was meant to apply uintil accomodation was available for all students quabfied for admission. 87 1 BCC xiv. 88 I BCC xiv-xv. 89 I W9Civ, xiv. 90 I BCC viii. Cf his suggestion that the most backward communities should be treated separately to prevent all benefits from going to the most advanced among the backward. I BCC xxi ff. 91 In addition to the Chairman's repudidtion, three other members of the Commission, including the Secretary, filed minutes of dissent objectipg to the caste basis of classification. (Minutes of Dissent of Anup Singh, Arunangshu De, P G Shah.) Two other members dissented on the ground that the Commission had not gone far enough: T Mariappa merely objected to the failure to include urban Lingayats and Vokkaligas in Mysore; S D Singh Chaurasia set forth a detailed proposal for equating Backward Classes with Sudras. The various Minutes of Dissent make up Volume III of the Commission's Report. 92 Opposition to the way in which the Commission proceeded might have been anticipated in view of the government's decision to ignore caste in the 1951 Census (See note 78 above) and from Prime Miniser Nehru's remarks at the Commission's inauguration (see note 67 above). 93 Ministry of Home Affairs, 1956: 3-4. 94 Id, at 3. 95 Id. 96 Id. 97 Id, at 4. 98 Id. 99 Id. 100 Id, at 4-5. 101 RCSCST 1957-58: I, 9. 102 RCSCT 1958-59: I, 11-12. The Census authorities indicated that it might be possible to draw up a list of socially and educationally backward occupations on the basis of (a) any non-agricultural occupation in any state in which 50 per cent or more of the persons belong to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes; or (b) any non-agriculturaloccupation in which literacy percentage of the persons depending thereon is less than 50 per cent of the general literacy in the' st4te. It was suggested that this test be with an income u4ed in corn4unction lin,it of Rs 1000 per family. 103 RCSCST 1958-59: I, 12. 104 Letter of the Ministry of Home Affairs to Chief Secretaries of all State Governments/Union Territories, August 14, 1961, reprinted at RCSCST 1960-61: II 366. 105 A number of states gave fee concessions to Other Backward Classes. RCSCST 1956-57: II, 65. 106 Beginning in 1957, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Education Ministry recommended that reservations for in vacancies Schieduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be filled with Other






Backward Classes candidates proricddenthe Congress is despite the 1 16 Letter of the Minister of Home vided they met minimum qualificaAffairs to Chief Secretaries of All anti-casteist protestations of its tionis. Letters from Ministry of State Governnments/Union Terrileaders." Homne Affairs No 10/41/57-SCT tories, Aniguist14, 1961, reprinted 111 In 1960, Selig Harrison's book ap(IV), clated July 30, 1957; Letter at RCSCST 1960-61: II, 866. peared with its gloomy reflections No 10/32/57-SCT(IV), dated June on the disintegrative forces of 1-17 Id. 11, 1958. This provision was withlaniguage, region and caste and its 118 Id. These VieNS Nere endorsed by drawn in letter No 28/6/61-SCT(I), the Ministry of Education's Comiseriouis questioning of whether dated januiarv 4, 1962, after the mnittee on Emotional Integration India could renmain united. Algovernmnent had decidled not t) (1962 : 45) wvhich concluded that thoujgh he points oiit that caste draxv up an all-India list of backthe time has now come, in our tests of backwardness consolidate ward classes. The latter two letters opinion, when increasingly caste consciousness, he does not are reproduced in Planning Comassistance should be based on assign them any major disintegrimission 1965: 2.34-5. economic criteria. In some tive role: All-India Backward Classes Fedestates powerfuil groups have ... the constitutional guaranration 1958: 6-7. In December exploited 'backwardness' to tees only institutionalise a 1958 the Federation's executive their own advantage and to grotup awareness that would committee reiterated its thanks to the detriment of society as a in any case exist to a great I't also results in the government and its appeal that whole.... extent. Since the upper castes the same he done for unfilled rethe long run in making the often refuse to recognise tbe backward classes less selfse,rvations in government posts. achievement of an individual reliant than they should be. All-Indlia Backward Classes Fedemember of a low caste who ration 1959: Appendix vi. In an may, for example, acquire edu- 119 The Other Backward Classes cateinterview with Jai Narayan Singh cation, the individual invarigory had become, from the Centre's Yadava (10 April 1966) he estimated ably concludes that mobility point of view, not a stratum of the that uindlerthis arrangement Backon any significant scale must poptulationbut a catch-all category ward Classes candidates obtained be a grouip phenomenon. for groups other than the Scheroulghly6 per cent df places in the Harrison 1960: 104. duled Castes and Tribes felt to be affecte(d institutions. 112 E g, in 1961 the Ministry of Edudeserving of Government help. In In 1959 the Stuidy Team on Social cation's Committee on Emotional 1960 the Commissioner for ScheWelfare and Welfare of the BackIntegration received over 1200 reduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes wvard Classes recomnended the plies in a poll of highly-placed noted that Denotified Communiaholition of the OBC category and educators. Over 70 per cent were ties, Nomadic- Tribes and Neoits replacement with economic convinced that divisive forces had Buddhists were "decidedly the criteria for selecting beneficiaries Independence. increase(d since groups to get Government help for government schemes. The reWhen asked to identify the "disinas Other Backward Classes . during commendation is contained in the tegrative forces", the highest numnthe Third Five Year Plan period". Introduction (dated July 1959) but ber chose "casteism/communaRCSCST 159-60: I, 9. the Committee's position is hardlv lism" (62 per cent) - significantly 120 RCSCST 1959-60: 238. clear in the body of its report. more than chose religious bigotry, 1964-65: 115, 158, 159. Committee on Plan Projects 1959: etc (.39 per cent) or regionalism, 121 RCSCST State of Myisore, AIR v 7. Cf p 127. etc (44 per cent). Ministry of 122 Balaii SC 649. 1963, See, eg, Srinivas' 1957. presidenEdutcation 1962:189. Cf the Times 123 Lok Sabba Debates, Series 3, Vol tial address to the anthropology of India'.s view that if the use of 48, 397:3-3976. (November 25, section of the Indian Science preferences were not to defeat the 1965). Congress. After a dispassionate reestablishment of a "casteless and view of developments, he suggests society" the government 124 Tlhe list included two states (Gujaclassless rat and Maharashtra))that had remust amend the Constitution to "it is time to give serious thought tained the caste test outside the to evolving 'neutral' indices of eliminate the permissibility of comscholarship area; one state (Punjab) munal units in distributing preferbackwardness.... The criteria of which not only retained the caste literacy, landownership and income ences. Times of India, Auguist 30, test outside the scholarship area, in cash or grain should be able to 1961. but emiployed a list of commusubsume all cases of back- 113 Thus the Estimates Committee of nities in the scholarship area wardness". But other less disin.he Lok Sabba (Forty-Eighth Reas well, albeit in conjunction with terested critics perceived the deveport) proposed that the "weaker an income test; one state that had sections of society" should be delopment of a "vested interest in no schemes of its own for Other fined by econornic criteria as well backwardness" and all sorts of Backward Classes (Orissa) and two as educational and social backdire effects on national integrastates that had *none outside of wardness. "'Progressive emancipation and efficiency. See eg, Mehta scholarships (Assam, West Bengal). 19:3. (There were few to argue pation from economic backwardThe onlv states with economic ness should help the people bethe other side. For a rare example, tests and a high level of benefits longing to Scheduled Castes and see Subbiah 1963.) For a convefor Other Backward Classes were nient review with many references Scheduled Tribes to overcome their Mysore and Andhra Pradesh. The social backwardness." (Quoted at to the sdholarly and polemical latter reverted to a caste test less Ministry of Community Developliteratu-re of this period, see Barthan a year later and the former in ment and Co-operation I, 12). The nabas and Mehta 1965. 1976 or 1977. shift in emphasis is apparent in RamakrishnaSingh v State of Mythe October 1961 renort of the 125 Backward Classes groups themsore (AIR 1960 Mys 338.) The Stuidv Group on the Welfare of selves differ in their definition of Court's judgment, handed down the Weaker Sections of the Village the Backward Classes and their poon September 18, 1959, was acCommunity (chaired by jayaprapulation estimates, but they tend to claimed as a blow at casteism. E g, kash Narayan). The "weaker secbe rather expansive - often includTimes of India's Mysore Newstions" are identified as the econoing all religious minorities as well as letter for September 23, 1959 beThus speakers at the mically backward-practically all Hindu groLups. gan: "The Mysore High Court has of the village community. Caste 1966 conference of the All-India done what no politician of this inequality is a contributing cause Backward Classes Federation constate would dare to do. It has put of economic backwardness which stantly used the figure of 85 per a brake on the race to seek educais to be addressed by remedial cent of the population (this was tional' privileges by all and sunmeasures framed along lines of a intended to include the Scheduled dry."' The next day the decision Muslims, means test. Ministry of GCommuCastes and Tribes, was lauded in an editorial which nity Development andl Cooperation Buddhists and Christians as wvell observed : "The only rational test 1961:1I, Chapter 2. as the Other Backward Classes who for backwardness is a person's ecowere saidI to comprise 40 per cent nomic circumstances and not his 114 Ministry of Ho)me Affairs 1962b: of tZhetotal populatioln). (Author's 38. caste.... The Mysore and similar notes.) Welcoming the particiorders elsewhere show how caste- 115 Id.

vision of a presidential listing of Classes Welfare Association, estabBackward Classes.) This argument lished in 1960 (apparentlv in re(that reservations can only be made sponse to initiatives fromithe] Fedefor Backward Classes identified by ration) and de-voted mainly to orthe Commission contemplated by ganising anid representing the Art 340) is advanced again in "more back-ward classes" (i e, Fradip Tandon v State of UP, AIR not the Vokkaligas and Lingayats) 1975 All 1, 6, and encounters a becamne defunct after Mysore abansimiilarrejection. d dlone the caste list. (Interviewv with Venkataswamy, Secretary, in 131 Thus, in the Balaji case, the Court Bangalore, 1966.) Organisations took careful note of the Central of particular communities have Government's suggestion (incorpoproved much more durable. Thus, rating the recommendations of 1_6 E g, theo resolutions of the All-India ironically, the government's policy the All-India Council for Technical Backward Classes Conference, against communal criteria has disEducation) that reservations in held in New Delhi in March 1966. couraged the more broadly based higher education should not exceed The Federation is of the firm composite organisations and left 25 per cent (or, in exceptional opinion that even though ultithe field to organisations that are areas, 35 per cent). AIR 1963 SC mately a class of people are to communal in the literal sense. I at 656. be judged by the econornic encountered no organised groups 132 The "State" in Articles 15(4) and well-being, in the transition of recipients of benefits distributed 16(4) must be 'interpreted as deperiod when large sections along economic lines. fined in Article 12 as including suffer from social disabilities 128 But cf Professor Tripathi's argugovernments as well as legislatures in addition to economic and state and local as well as cenment (1972:206) that the way to poverty it would not be in the tral authorities. v/indicate rights against caste disnational interests to determine crimination is to confine the power 133 This was early established by backwardness in terms of ecoRamakrishna Singh v State of to make provisions for Backward nomic criteria alone. Social Mysore, AIR 1960 Mys 338 at 343. Classes exclusively to Parliament. backwardness - as laid down The latest assertion of this point Tripathi 1972 :206. Presumably he in the Constitution -can only is in Triloki Nath Tiku v State of would then confine the power to be determined in terms of Jammu and Kashmir, AIR 1969 SC designate Other Backward Classes castes and communities to 1 at 2. to the Centre as well. On the which the stigma- applies as a failure of textual arguments to 134 See note 124 above. whole and till the society bethis effect, see 135 Government of Kerala (1966); comes casteless it only injures 129 Jacob MffathewNote 130 below. v State of Kerala Government of Jammu and Kasbthe interests of the 'socially AIR 1964 Ker 39 at 56. mir (1969); Government of Andhra backward' to determine back- 130 Article 338(.3) served as the corof Pradesh (1970); Government wardness in terms, of economic nerstone of an ingenious argument Tamil Nadu (1971); Government criteria only. that the Constitutional plan for of Kerala (1971). Cf Punjab WelThe Federation supported generous designation of Backward Classes is fare Department 1966. help for the "poorer sections of analogous to the exclusive central 136 Government of Karnataka (1975). socially advanced classes" but ascontrol over designation of Sche- 137 Eg, in Andhra Pradesh the numserted that while economic tests duled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; ber of groups on the list fell fromn might be appropriate for these, that Articles 340 and 338(3) provide 139 in 1963 to 112 in 1966 to 92 "for the Backward Classes, the for exclusive central designation in 1970. See State of AP v Balacriterion should be 'Social' ". Cf corresponding to Articles 341 and Tram, AIR 1972 SC 1375 at 1387ff. Sathi nd who expresses the view, 342, the only difference being the 138 In this broad meaning it is more widely shared in Bdckward Classes additional step of the Commission or less equivalent to "'weaker seccircles, that Article 340 represents Report. This argument was rejecpolitical usage. tions" in current a definite (and uinfulfilled)committed in RamakiiishnaSi-ngh v State (Cf the reference to "weaker secment to a specific stratum of comof Mysore, AIR 1960 Mys 338 at tions of the people" in Art 46.)' mTninities; he decries the income .342. The Court, noting the absence 139 This notion is set out by the test as of any provision corresponding to Supreme Court in Balaji v State of against Article .340 of the InArticle 366 (24) or (25), pointed Mysore, AIR 1963 SC 649 at 658, dian Constitution since Article out that there is no indication that and has been invoked by many 340 mentions all those castes the presidental specification of subsequent courts (eg Sagar v State which have heen considered Backward Classes for purposes of of Andhra FJradesh, AIR 1968 AP low like the barber, potter, the operations of the Commissioner 165 at 187). blacksmith, carpenter, or the of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled 140 This view is neatly epitomised in household servants, the shepTribes was to define Backward the remarks of K Hanumanthaiya, herds, etc. Classes exhaustively for all constia Congress MP from Karnataka. Rao 1968:781 reports that at the ttutional purpoEes. over the 1976 during the debate Conference of the Yadava MahaAnother variant of this argument ievision of the lists of Scheduled sabha in 1968, implementation of for exclusive central control over He observed Castes and Tribes. the BCC Report and the revival of designation of Backward Classes that he welcomes reservations for the caste criterion were among the puit forward in Balaji v State of the latter, hut: most prominent demands. Mqlsore, AIR 1963 SC 649: 657-8, 127 All of these composite groups are relies on the provision in Article It is the middle or the backoriented to the 'caste' basis and .340 for the appointment of the have been ward classes that there is some indication that they Backward Classes Commission. It and they completely ignored have declined in direct corresponwas argued that "BackwardClasses" are the neople who are sufferdence to the slackening of the flow couild he designated only by the inig the most' in this set-up. of benefits along these lines. The President in pursuance of recom... it is the middle classes which desuettude of the All-India Backmendations of the Commission. the time stuffer most during ward Classes Federation can he Noting that Article 340(1) refers of inflation. These most negrounlghlymeasured by the fact that to measures that might be taken by classes or the lected middle the last of a series of nicely printthe states and the Union goverinclasses ... [should] b)ackward ed reports begun in 1955 appeared ment, the Supreme Court found be helped in the spirit of the in 1961. (There was a quickening that exclusive presidential power reKalelkar Commission['s]... oIf activity after the 1967 elections. in this area was not contemplated commen(lations. The Federation began publishing .a b)y the Constitution. (This concluSession) (17th Debates Lok Sabba pulblicatio>n called the Backwnrd sion is reinforced by the fact that Vol LXIV, No 16 Cols 76-77 (SeptClasses Reuiew, whose first issue the Commission is not a continuing ember 2, 1976). appeared in December 1968.) -body with power to revise its list. 141 The 1977 election manifesto cf The Mysore State Backward Nor is there any provision for rethe Janata Party called for an end

pants in a 1969 Seminar on BackwarcdClasses ancdthe Fouirth yive-Year Plan (organised l)y the All-[n(lia lBaek\war-d'(l (Clalsses Fled(et'rationi) Vl' Sinlgh imlenitioned the figure of 60-70 mlillioni Backwaicd Classes. The chief guiest, A N Jha, Lieutetnant Governor of Delhi, used the 85 per cent figire while warniing the (lelewates of the futility of attempting to define Backwar(d Classes. Backwaard Classes Review 1 (3):18.

the Political CultuLre of a Community in Change". Berkeley: University of California Press. Harrison, Selig S 1969 "India: The Most Dangerous Decades". Princeton: Princeton University Press. Irscbick, Eugene 1977 "Social Movements and the Indian Nationalist Movement: Tamilnad in the 1930s", Chapter I: "The Theory and Practice of Backwardness" (Mimeographed Draft, 1977). Latthe, A B 1924 "Memoirs of His Highness Shri Shahu Chhatrapati Meharaja of Kolhapur". 2 Vols, Bombay: Printed at the Times Press. Majumdar, Nabendu Dutta 1960 "The Backward Classes Commission and Its Work", in "Social Welfare in India' (isstied on behalf of the Planning Commission). New Delhi: Government of India, Revised and abridged edition. Mehta, Subbash Chandra 1962 "Persistence of the Caste System: Vested 'Interest in Backwardness", Quest No 36: 20-27 (Winter 1962-63). Mukherji, Panchanandas 1920 "The Indian Constitution... and all Relevant Documents Relating to the Indian Constitutional Reforms of 1919". References Calcutta: nacker, Spink and [11 Books. Articles, Memoranda, etc. Co. Omvedt, Gail All-India Backward Classes Federation 1976 "Cultural Revolt in a Colonial 1954 Memorandum to the Backward Society: The Non-Brahman Classes Commission Movement in Western India, 1955 Report of the working of the 1873 to 1930". Bombay: ... Federation from the date Scientific Socialist Education of its formation up to 30 Trust. September 1955 Rao, MSA 1957 Report, 1 October 1955 to 31 1968 "Political Elite and Caste March 1957 and Caste Association: A Re1958 Report, 1 April 1957 to 31 port of a Caste Conference", March 1958 and Political Weekly Econonmic 1959 Report, 1 April 1958 to 31 3: 779-82. March 1959 Sathi, Chedi Lal 1961 Review, 1 April 1959 to [nd ca 1960] Nehrzu Sarkar Dtara March 1961 Pichare Vargo ke Adhikaron ki Backward Classes Review (A publicaHatya? [Crushing down of tion of the All-India Backward rishts of Backward Classes in New Federation). 1968 Classes Nehru Government], Luicknow. Delhi, Vol 1, No 1, December. Stubbiab,A Anil Chandra Banerjee, 1963 "The Caste System: Vested 1948 The Making of the Indian Interests of the High Castes", Vol 1, Constitution 1939-1947, Quest, No 37: 85-87 (Spring Documents. Calcutta: A Mu1963). kheriee and Co. Tripathi, P K Barnabas, A P and Mehta, Subbash C 1972 Somne Insights intto Funda1965 "Caste in changing India". Bombay: Rights. mental New Delhi: The Indian InstiUniversity of Bombay. tute of Public Administration. [IIl Government Documents Bose, Nirmal Kumar Government of 1954 "Who Are the Backward Andhra Pradesh,of the Backward Classes 1970 Report Classes", Man in India 34 (2): Commission [Manohar Pershad, 89-98. Reprinted in "Culture Chairman] Hyderabad: Govand Society in India". Bombay: Asia Publishing House, Bombay, ernment Secretariat Press. Governmen,t ,of (Transferred 1967. Departments). A ChronoThe Depressed Classes 1930 Report of the Depressed Claslogical Docunpentation ses and aboriginal Tribes Com19.35- Part I: Ranchi, Rev Fr J mittee, Bombav Presidency, Jans, S J, Catholic Press March 1930 [0 H B Starte, 1?937 Part II-XI: Kurseong: St Chairman] Bombay: The Gov>Mary's College. ernment Central Press. Great Britain, India Office (Indian Hardgrave, Robert 1969 "The Nadars of Tamilnad: Constitutional Reforms) to caste distinctions and promised the establishment of an independent and autonomous civil rights commission "competent to ensure that the minorities, scheduled castes and tribes, and other backward classes do not suffer from discrimination or inequality". It promised a radical reduction of disparities by a "policy of special treatment" ir. favour of the "weaker sections of our society". In connection with the provision of "preferential opportunities for education and selfemployment to these sections" the Party promised to ... reserve between 25 and 33 per cent of all appointments to Government service for the backward classes, as recOmmended by the Kelkar [sic] Commission. The Party will formulate a special programme within the framework of the five-year plans for the substantial advancement of the scheduled castes and tribes and other backward classes and will provide adequate funds for the purpose. Special machinery will be set up to implement the programme and assure fulfillment of the relevant Constitutional guarantees.

1919 RReports of the Franchise Committee [Lord Southborouh, President], etc. Calcutta: Government Printing Office. Great Britain, Indian Franchise Committee

1932 Vol I, Report of the Indian Franchise Committee [Marquess of Lothian, Chairman] Calcutta: Government of India Central Publication Branch. Great Britain, Indian Statutorv Cornf I I S; i

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from horse races paid by bookmakers WVtINNINGS -jrd race clubs have also become liable to deduction of tax at source with effect from 1st June, 1978. If you a7e responsible for payingjany winnings from horse races, your obligations under the Income-tax law are: * As and when you pay to any person resident in India such winnings exceeding Rs. 2,500DEDUCT tax (7 34.5 per cent (30 per cent as income-tax and 4.5 per cent as surcharge) at the time of payment. 3 DEPOSIT the tax so deducted to the credit of the CentralGovernmentwithin one week from the date of deduction.The deposit may be made at any office

of the Reserve Bank of India, or the State Bank of India or its subsidiaries conducting Government business or at a branch of specificd public sector bank authorised to accept the payment of tax at the concerned station, through an income-tax chalan in FormNo. 39. blankcopies of wuhich maybe obtained from your Income-tax Officer. *FURNISH to the person to whom the winnings from horse races are paid, at the time of payment, a certificate in regardto the,tax deducted at source in the prescribed FormNo. 19-838. 0SEND to your Income-tax Officer a statement in prescribedFormNo. 26-BB quarterlyon 15th July, 15th October, 15th January and 15th April in tespect of the tax deductions made by you during the immediatelypreceding quarter. If you need any guidance or assistance, you may contact your l.T.O.or the Public Relations Officerin the office of the Commissionerof Income-tax.


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