Scheduled Castes(SC) , Scheduled Tribes(ST) and Other Backward Classes(OBC) | UPSC Notes

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Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes

Scheduled Class and Tribe | OBC

Sc st obc issues upsc
  • Muslims and Christians cannot be SC
  • SCs comprises 16.6% of the population (2011 Census) | 522 districts have >50% SC Population 
  • OBCs are about 42% (NSSO 2009) of the population 
  • SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Scheme — Allocation for the welfare of SC (AWSC) | Financial Management thought PFMS 
  • Swachh Bharat — Gramin 
  • PM Adarsh Gram Yojana — for the integrated development of SC majority villages (>50%) by providing central-gap filling assistance.
  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment — publishes the list of SC/ST communities (state-wise)

Scheduled Castes 

Similar criteria 

  • Extreme social, educational and economic backwardness.  

Different criteria 

  • Previous proved record of suffering from untouchability 
  • Creamy Layer concept does not apply 

Constitution guaranteed positive rights to the SCs to correct the historical wrongdoing of untouchability.

They enjoy more govt. benefits when compared to OBCs 

Other Backward Castes

Similar Criteria 

  • Extreme social, educational and economic backwardness 

Different Criteria 

  • Lack of adequate representation in govt posts and services 
  • Creamy layer concept apply.

Constitutional Provisions — 

  1. Article 46 — promotion of educational and economic interest of SC and ST and other weaker sections.
  2. Article 366(24) — definition of SC and ST
  3. Article 17
  4. Article 23 — human trafficking and abolition of beggar (generally SC/ST)
  5. Article 25(2)(b) — Hindu religious institutions of public character to be opened to all class and sections of Hindus 
  6. Article 15(4)
  7. Article 335 — relaxation in the qualifying marks 
  8. Article 243D, 243T — reservation of SC and ST in every Panchayat and Municipality
  9. Article 330, 332 — reservation of SC/ST in Lok Sabha and SLA
  10. Article 334 — reservation to cease after (60) years after the commencement this constitution 
  11. Article 16(4) and 16(4A), 16(4B)
  12. Article 164 — Tribal welfare Minister in MP, BR, OD
  13. Article 275 — grants-in-aid for tribal welfare 
  14. Article 338/338A/338B — NCSC, NCST
  15. Article 340 — power of president to appoint a commission for SEBCs and report to Parliament — Mandal Commission was formed under this provision 
  16. Article 341 — power of the president to notify the list of SC and ST after due consultation with the concerned State’s Governor

Educated Class among SC/STs — 

  1. Scholarship schemes | Reservation @education and @employment — based on social and educational backwardness 
  2. Sub-Plans of Ministry of Social Justice for promoting entrepreneurship among the backward class
  3. Such programs have worked and from it has risen a new class — the new educated middle class among SCs and STs
  4. Fist Generation SC/STs have broken the glass ceiling of social mobility and thereby empowering them in all respects — social, economic and political. 
  5. Empowerment has given them the most important thing — Increased Aspirations to excel in every field 
    1. Literacy has gone up considerable 
    2. Drop-out rates took a huge plunge 
    3. Elementary School — GER has increased tremendously (higher education also)
    4. Rate of retention has also gone up 
  6. SCs/STs have now understood the importance and relevance of good quality education. 
  7. Employment at top positions in the administration in civil service has also gone up.
  8. Now the % of SCs/STs going abroad for educational/employment avenues has gone up | increasing and widening the diaspora in abroad.
  9. Problems and Stumbling Blocks — 
    1. Grade IV employees are still predominantly SCs/STs
    2. Huge Gender Disparity in higher education and employment 
    3. Several Incidents of atrocities and discrimination have been surfacing of late at the national stage.
    4. Increasing privatisation of education and employment opportunities — no reservation there and abysmal ratio of SC/ST in such institutions. 
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Promoting entrepreneurship skills among weaker section — 4-fold scheme 

  1. Provide Entrepreneurship Training among SC/ST Youth 
  2. Create Collaborative Synergy among various stakeholders — institutional interaction 
  3. Create awareness and benefits for the identified target group 
  4. Proper documentation of programs for continuous and periodic evaluation and monitoring exercises. 

Train → Collaborate → awareness for support → documentation → evaluation → monitoring 

Manual Scavengers (Safaai Karamchari)

  • Manual scavenging refers to the unsafe and manual removal of raw (fresh and untreated) human excreta from buckets or other containers that are used as toilets or from the pits of simple pit latrines. The safe and controlled emptying of pit latrines, on the other hand, is one component of fecal sludge management.
  • 2011 Census — about 8 lakh cases of manual scavenging across India 
  • Ministry of Social Justice — 300+ deaths in 2017 itself due to Manual Scavenging 
  • Statistics show that 80% of India’s sewage cleaners die before they turn 60, after contracting various infectious diseases.
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013


Manual Scavenging Act, 2013

  1. Eliminate the insanitary latrines.
  2. Prohibits Employment as Manual Scavengers & Hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks
  3. Definitions of manual scavengers and insanitary latrines widened to cover not only dry latrines but other insanitary latrines as well.
  4. Offences are cognizable and non-bailable and attract stringent penalties. 
  5. Provide alternate jobs and rehabilitation of the workers.
  6. Vigilance/Monitoring Committees at sub-divisional levels 
  7. National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) — to monitor implementation 

Engineering challenges | Affordability issues 

RSTV Debate — 

Reservations for SC/ST

Reservation and Migration

A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi held that “a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste in one State cannot be deemed to be a Scheduled Caste person in relation to any other State to which he migrates for the purpose of employment or education.”

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Reservation in Promotion to SC/STs 

SC — Promotion in govt. offices should go ahead

  • In ‘accordance with law’ — A.16 (4A) and (4B)
  • 2006 Nagraj Case modified — now there is no need to have a quantifiable data to back the claim of a Dalit community about backwardness. 
  • 1992 Indra Sawhney Case clearly ruled that the ‘test or requirement of social and educational backwardness of social-educational backwardness cannot be applied to SC/STs”. These communities indubitably fall with the expression of ‘backward class of citizens’. 
  • 2006 Verdict is violative of 1992 Indra Sawhney verdict and hence illegal. 
  • Now it is solely the prerogative of the State Government to give reservations to SC/STs and ‘accelerated promotion with consequential seniority’ in the State government services.  

2006 M Nagaraj Case — SC (now modified)

  • Apex court has held that it is not mandatory fo the State to make reservations for SC/ST in matter of promotions. 
  • The reservation in any case should not exceed the ceiling limit of 50% 
  • If the state did wish to exercise its discretion, it is supposed to gather quantifiable data showing backwardness of class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment, in addition to compliance with A.335
    • Issue — In the philosophy of the Constitution, the test of ‘quantifiable data and inadequacy in representation’ is not mentioned for SC/ST unlike in the case of OBCs. 
    • Supreme Court ‘cannot’ put the clause of testing the inadequacy in case of SC/STs. 
    • Note — Till date no State or the Centre has collected the ‘quantifiable data and inadequacy in representation’, nor carried out any survey to find out the efficiency.
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When to give reservation in promotion in Government Services to SC/ST as per the Nagraj Case (2006)?

  • Prove quantitatively that the particular Dalit community is
    1. Backward 
    2. Inadequately represented 
    3. Such promotion will NOT affect (negatively) the overall efficiency of the public administration.


  • Problem of Judicial Inconsistency — Indra Sawhney and M Nagaraj case 
  • A. 16(4B) — provided accelerated promotion to SC/STs | 6 years of advantage in seniority
  • Test of ‘quantifiable data and inadequacy in representation’ applies on OBCs | Concept of Creamy Layer also.

Important Court Cases — 

  1. Indra Sawhney (1992) 
    1. A.16(4) is not an exception to A.16(1) 
    2. Difference between ‘Backward’ and ‘Most Backward’ in OBCs 
    3. Maximum reservation should not exceed the 50% cap — until and unless special circumstances do arise.
    4. SC/STs are ‘definitely backwards’, in fact, Most Backward. 
    5. Creamy Layer concept in OBCs 
  2. Nagaraj (2006)
    1. Went away from the 1992 judgement 
    2. The backwardness of the SC/STs should be backed by proper data and evidence | quantitative data 
    3. Suspended the provision of Reservations in promotion of Govt. employees
  3. Thakur Case (2008)
    1. The concept of Creamy layer has no relevance in SC/ST reservation either in recruitment or in Promotion.