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Voices rise for a flexible creamy layer

By Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi
April 15, 2008 02:30 IST
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Apprehending that the government may stick to the definition of the 'creamy layer' that is applicable to reservations for Other Backward Classes in government jobs, the OBC parliamentary forum will hold a meeting of its 150-member strong organisation to demand a more "realistic" criteria.

The definition, many fear, may deny a large number of students the benefit of the OBC quotas in central educational institutions that were given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court last week.

Forum President and Congress parliamentarian Hanumantha Rao says the income ceilings in the earlier definition have to be upwardly revised and a different criterion used to define the creamy layer.

"After the VIth Pay Commission, it is necessary to raise the income ceiling from Rs 2.5 lakh per annum to at least Rs 6-7 lakh per annum. After all, it will take a certain amount of income to afford education," he said.

"The forum will also discuss the need to expedite the passage of a Bill for reservations in private educational institutes," he added.

The arguments in favour of a revision are very strong. Quoting a 2006-07 report by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Janata Dal (United) President Sharad Yadav says that all debates on the creamy layer should take these figures into account.

According to the report, OBC representation in central jobs is as low as 4.7 per cent in group A, 2.3 per cent in group B, 5.9 per cent in group C and 6.9 per cent in group D.

"This is well below the 27 per cent quota. Tell me where is the creamy layer? The entire question of creamy layer has meant that people who are in a position to use the reservation benefit are not being allowed to do so, and this is bound to get worse in educational institutes. After the implementation of the Mandal Commission report, the OBC representation has seen only a 1 per cent rise," he said.

"The income ceiling is so low that even children of peons and clerks will not be allowed to take admission," he added.

The Union Cabinet is meeting this week to look into the matter but Yadav says unless a joint parliamentary committee meets on the issue, the reservation will be meaningless. "This is a reservation given by Parliament and taken away by the courts," he said.

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Nistula Hebbar in New Delhi
Source: source