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Backward Castes


Who are the backward classes?

  • Other Backward Class (OBC) is a collective term used by the Government of India to classify castes which are educationally or socially disadvantaged.

  • The list of OBCs maintained by the Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is dynamic, with castes and communities being added or removed depending on social, educational and economic factors.

  • OBCs were determined to be 41% in 2006 when the National Sample Survey Organisation took place.

  • The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes comprise about 16.6% and 8.6%, respectively, of India's population (according to the 2011 census).

Constitutional Provisions

  • FRs- Articles 15(4), 16(4A), 17

  • DPSP- Article 46

  • Others- Article 243D, Article 340, 102nd Constitution Amendment Act inserted new Articles 338 B and 342 A & amended Article 336, Article 338B, Article 342 A


  • Problem of untouchability- considered to be unclean and polluted

  • Lowest Status in the Hierarchy: In the Caste hierarchy the Scheduled Castes are ascribed the lowest status.

  • Prevention from the use of public places

  • Dissociation from the mainstream society

  • They suffer from being economically backward- the problem of poverty is generated due to material deprivation, landlessness, educational backwardness, health and nutrition, atrocities, indebtedness and bonded labor etc.

  • The STs mostly face issues related to forests and agriculture. Lack of communication, education, Issues of migration, displacement and identity aggravates their causes.


  • NCSC is a constitutional body that works to safeguard the interests of the scheduled castes (SC) in India; likewise NCST works in the interest of SCheduled Tribes, and NCBC works for the welfare of other backward classes

  • Composition: It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members. They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.

  • Functions:

  • Monitoring and investigating all issues concerning the safeguards provided for the SCs/ STs/ BCs under the constitution.

  • Enquiring into complaints relating to the deprivation of the rights and safeguards of the SCs/ STs/ BCs.

  • Taking part in and advising the central or state governments with respect to the planning of socio-economic development of the SCs/ STs/ BCs.

  • Regular reporting to the President of the country on the implementation of these safeguards.

  • Recommending steps to be taken to further the socio-economic development and other welfare activities of the SCs/ STs/ BCs

  • Any other function with respect to the welfare, protection, development and advancement of the respective community.


  • Strengthening the legal and judicial protection of Dalits under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

  • Capacity building and sensitisation of the institutions

  • Ensuring effective implementation of existing government policies

  • Incentivise Good Social Work: Innovation, effectiveness, and positive impact of the work done by a department or a body can be rewarded by the Commission.

  • Better engagement with civil society: The Commission can create a platform for structured engagement with civil society groups working on Dalit issues.

  • Behavioural nudge: The Commission can identify social practices that promote discrimination and can help civil society and the government organise debates, deliberations, awareness campaigns around them.

  • Facilitate economic empowerment and entrepreneurship: for example, Stand Up India Scheme.

  • It can encourage a participative approach to promote economic empowerment by engaging with the ideas proposed by the members of the community.

  • It can promote skills and small business development in the service economy.

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