Sub-categorisation of SC communities

Sub-categorisation of SC communities

This article covers ‘Daily Current Affairs’ and the topic details of “Sub-categorisation of SC communities” .This topic is relevant in the “Polity and Governance” section of the UPSC CSE exam.


Why in the News?

The Indian government has formed a high-level committee, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, to examine the issue of dominating Scheduled Caste (SC) communities obtaining more benefits than the most backward. This initiative is specifically in response to the Madiga community’s requests in Telangana.

Mandate given to the Committee

  • The committee’s principal goal is to investigate alternate approaches to resolve issues raised by diverse SC communities across the country.
  • While the group was formed in response to the Madiga community’s concerns, its scope goes beyond a single community or state.
  • It strives to examine and devise a mechanism for the equal distribution of benefits, plans, and initiatives to the most backward communities among the country’s over 1,200 Scheduled Castes, which have been pushed out by more forward-thinking and dominating ones.


About Sub-categorisation of SC in India:


  • Sub-categorisation is the process of dividing or classifying a larger category into smaller, more precise subcategories depending on certain criteria or qualities. In the context of SC in India, sub-categorisation may imply further classification within the SC group based on characteristics such as socioeconomic position or historical disadvantage.
  • Madigas of Telangana: The Madiga community, which accounts for 50% of all SCs in Telangana, has struggled to gain access to government incentives intended for SCs due to the Mala community’s dominance. Despite their large number, the Madiga group claimed to have been excluded from SC-related projects.They have been fighting for the sub-categorisation of SCs since 1994, and it was this demand that prompted the establishment of the Justice P. Ramachandra Raju Commission in 1996, followed by the National Commission in 2007.


Legitimacy of Sub-categorisation Within Castes


  • Several states, including Punjab, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu, have attempted to implement reservation laws at the state level in order to subdivide SCs over the last two decades. The Supreme Court is building a larger Constitution Bench to decide the case, causing all plans to be stalled in the courts.
  • E. V. Chinnaiah vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (2004):  In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that once a community is listed on the Presidential List for Scheduled Castes under Article 341 of the Constitution, they are merged into a single bigger class of people, casting a wide net for reservation reasons. The Bench ruled that the State lacked legislative authority to create sub-classifications within a single class, which would violate the Right to Equality.


The Union Government’s Stance


  • In 2005, the Union government investigated legal possibilities for sub-categorising SCs. At the time, the former Attorney General of India stated that this was feasible, but only if there was “unimpeachable evidence to indicate a necessity“.
  • Furthermore, both the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes opposed altering the Constitution at the time.They contended that establishing a sub-quota within the present quota is insufficient, highlighting the urgent need to prioritise the disbursement of existing initiatives and benefits to these areas.


Arguments In Favour:


  • Graded Inequalities: The primary justification for sub-categorization arises from perceived graded inequalities among Scheduled Caste (SC) populations.
  • Access Disparities: The argument is that even within marginalised areas, some have less access to basic facilities, resulting in more forward communities continually receiving advantages despite outnumbering the more backward ones.
  • Requirement for Separate Reservation: Advocates contend that the best course of action is to divide towns into smaller groups and reserve separate reservations for the less developed SC category.


Arguments against


  • Addressing the Root Cause: The SC and ST Commissions dispute the idea that making different reservations within a category addresses the issue’s underlying causes.
  • All Levels of Representation: The commissions stress the importance of representation at all levels and argue that the more regressive SC communities lag far behind the more progressive SC groups.
  • Inadequate Candidates: Even with reserved seats at higher levels, the consideration of the most backward SCs may not have enough candidates to maintain the current disparity.
  • Prioritising Current Programmes: To ensure thorough upliftment, both commissions advise sending current programs and government benefits to these sections before considering any further classification.

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Prelims practice question


Q1) Consider the following statements:

1) The primary objective of reservations in India is economic development

2) The Mandal Commission was established during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi

3) 103rd Amendment  introduced Article 16(4B) allow the State to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SCs and STs in public services

How many of the statements above are correct?

a) One 

b) Two

c) Three

d) None




Q2) In the context of reservations, what does the term “creamy layer” refer to?

a) Economically privileged individuals within reserved categories

b) Individuals with fair skin complexion

c) Highly educated individuals

d) Individuals from urban areas


Answer: A 


Q3) With reference to Indian Constitution, consider the following statements: 

1) Under Article 340, the President can establish a Commission with members chosen by him to study the situation of socially and educationally disadvantaged groups in India. 

2) Article 340 was added by the 102nd Amendment to the Constitution. 

3) National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was formed under the provisions of the 102nd Amendment Act, 2018.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only 

d) None 


Answer: C


Mains practice question


Q1) In your view, has the reservation system led to the emergence of a more inclusive and diverse society in India? Why or why not?

Q2) Do you believe that the reservation system fosters a sense of dependency among certain communities, or does it empower them to compete on an equal footing? Share your perspective.

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